The Pumpkin Plan
The Pumpkin Plan

The Pumpkin Plan

almost nothing—I still had both of my nuts…so far. I was a freakin’ slave to my business and all I had to show for it was stress-induced red blotches all over my face (never did find out what those were). The hours were insane, and when I did spend time with my wife and our five-year-old son, it was fake time—I was on my laptop, or on the phone, or talking business, or thinking about business—completely unfocused on the two most important people in my life. (Location 122)

Huge, right? Nope. Total bullshit. Our costs were so high, our cash so not flowing, that bringing in close to a million felt like a joke—a cruel, cruel joke. (Location 128)

Enter Frank, my personal Yoda. I met him at my first ever chamber of commerce meeting. In a room full of overconfident, desperate salesmen, he was the only guy who didn’t pitch me. He just sat in a corner and watched. He really didn’t care if you hired him to coach you. He didn’t have to care—as president of a major medical services company, he had taken the company from $8 million to $80 million without breaking a sweat, so he didn’t need the work, or the money. (Location 175)

“You’re not an entrepreneur yet, Mike. Entrepreneurs don’t do most of the work. Entrepreneurs identify the problems, discover the opportunities and then build processes to allow other people and other things to do the work.” (Location 181)

“List your clients in order of revenue,” Frank told me. “Then, take your top-paying clients and separate them into two categories: great clients and everyone else, from the ho-hum clients to the clients who annoy you so much, you cringe when they call you. Keep the great, top-paying clients, and cut the rest. Every single one.” (Location 190)

Holy crap, I thought. Pumpkin farmers hold the secret formula for big-time entrepreneurial success. My get-out-of-jail-free card. The Holy Grail. The missing link. My golden ticket. (Yes, it was all of those things to me, and more, so much more.) (Location 222)

I shared my revelation with Chris and we followed the Pumpkin Plan in earnest. Almost immediately, everything became easier. We saw results lightning fast—so fast that within a couple of months, I was able to jump off the hamster wheel for good and stop freaking out. (Location 253)

Two years after I implemented my first Pumpkin Plan I opted to let Chris buy me out so I could go my own way. I wanted to apply the Pumpkin Plan from the ground up. The very next day I started a new, different company. (Location 259)

That is, until you decide to Pumpkin Plan your business. You start with the Assessment Chart, which you have trouble filling out because you really don’t have a lot of repeat business. Still, you follow through and realize that your worst customers are tourists who make unreasonable demands in-flight—better movies, new headsets, more snacks—and only use you when you have a half-off promotion or some other limited-time offer. (Location 299)

As he gave me a tour of the space, Bruce told me he’s so broke, he’s had to borrow money from his parents. (To be clear, he’s no college kid who bit off more than he could chew. He’s been at this for twenty years.) (Location 358)

When our businesses are in a state of collapse, entrepreneurs go through three stages. First, we deny that we’re struggling. You know what I am talking about. Someone asks how your business is going and you say, “Great! Just landed a big client!” But inside you can feel your lungs compress as the stress builds. Things aren’t great. Money is draining away, fast. But you’re afraid to admit you’re struggling because what if people think you’re not capable? (Location 368)

Many entrepreneurs continue on like this, year after year, always behind the eight ball, under constant stress, doing the same shit they’ve been doing since day one. (Location 383)

As I laid out exactly how we would Pumpkin Plan his business, Bruce’s expression changed. He looked concerned. Maybe even a little scared. I could see his mind rolling over the expenses he “had” to keep, the projects he “had” to keep alive, the chaos he “had” to keep feeding. “You will resist me,” I said. “But if you follow my plan, you will save your company.” I wanted to add, “and your life,” but since he seemed overwhelmed enough already, I decided against it. (Location 392)

When I asked Eric how he could scale his business he said, “When you figure it out, let me know.” Like so many one-man bands, Eric believes his knowledge and skill set isn’t teachable, and if you can’t teach it, you can’t systematize it. (Location 432)

Employing the strategies that worked when you started your business won’t get you a giant pumpkin. In the beginning, you had to trust your gut, say yes to all clients and opportunities, do the work yourself and fly by the seat of your pants. (Location 2706)

You have it in you to grow a remarkable business that attracts droves of clients worthy of your energy, time and great ideas. (Location 2710)

You have it in you to contribute to the world in a meaningful way—through innovation, by creating jobs, by setting an example of what is possible when you take a risk and go after your big, crazy, (and yes, attainable) dream. I believe in you. I do. I believe in you so much I wrote this book to prove to you that I believe in you. (Location 2711)