02/26/2013 05:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Pumpkin Plan for Stuck Entrepreneurs

"It doesn't matter how much you get knocked down in life, you've got to get back up," said the once written off actor Ben Affleck in his Oscar acceptance speech Sunday night.

Other than the rare emotional moment in an award ceremony how much do we actually talk about failure? Whether it's celebrities or successful entrepreneurs we like things served up picturesque. We hear about kids who never went to college raising millions, we hear about platforms generating hundreds of thousands of users overnight, but do we hear about failure?


We don't talk about how Sergey Brin's pre Google idea was ordering pizza by fax machine. We prefer Richard Branson in a space shuttle surrounded by long-legged stewardesses as opposed to outside an empty wedding dress shop called "Virgin Brides."

The road from good to great includes many trips "back to the drawing board." But we don't talk about that.

In The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy To Grow A Remarkable Business In Any Field, author and successful entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz encourages entrepreneurs to dig deep. He compares building a successful company to growing a monster-sized pumpkin, an epiphany he had while in an over-sized pumpkin patch with his kids.


Michalowicz suggests you have a "straight" talk with yourself. Get real about what you're offering, who you're targeting and how you're improving your approach.

One of the tips in the book includes top-scaling your customers. Provide over the top service for your best clients and fire your customers that underpay and over-demand.

Michalowicz encourages small business owners to conduct research with clients. He has a questionnaire that includes, "what are your frustrations with vendors like me?"

The questions aren't that of an egotistical business person. These are the questions uttered by a no nonsense, results driven and service-oriented business owner.

The Pumpkin Plan provides this plan of action to grow a bigger pumpkin:

1. Plant promising seeds.
2. Water, water, water.
3. As they grow, routinely remove all of the diseased or damaged pumpkins.
4. Weed like a mad dog. Not a single green leaf or root permitted if it isn't a pumpkin plant.
5. When they grow larger, identify the stronger, faster-growing pumpkins. Then, remove all the less promising pumpkins. Repeat until you have one pumpkin on each vine.
6. Focus all of your attention on the big pumpkin. Nurture it around the clock like a baby.
7. Watch it grow. In the last days of the season, this will happen so fast you can actually see it happen.

You're not going to grow a bigger pumpkin by doing what you've always done.