The Pumpkin Plan: A 7 Step Process for Fast Business Growth

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I recently read what I believe is one of the best business books on the market. It is called The Pumpkin Plan by Michael Michalowicz. This book lays out a simple strategy to grow a remarkable business in any field.

No matter what business they are in, entrepreneurs more often than not reach a point where they are worn down, facing burn out and are likely to be overwhelmed most of the time. This is particularly true in those first years when you are trying to get your business off the ground.

This is where Michael found himself a few years ago. He was working long hours; he was completely worn out and in spite of bringing steady money in the door, he rarely had any left at the end of the month. He learned that in trying to please everyone, you often end up pleasing no one, and he knew he had to make a change.

Related: BiggerPockets Presents : The Best Real Estate Books Ever

Then something happened…

One day Michael read an article about a local farmer who had spent his entire life growing giant pumpkins. You know — the ones that win the prizes because they are huge. In that moment, after reading about the pumpkin farmer’s process for growing that one perfect pumpkin, he realized that anyone could use this same process to grow a remarkable business.

He went to work creating a “Pumpkin Plan” for his own business. Since then, he has grown multiple successful businesses using these effective strategies.

The Process

Here is the 7 step process to grow a giant pumpkin.

  1. You have to plant the right seeds.
  2. Water, water, water.
  3. Remove all the diseased or damaged pumpkins from the vine.
  4. Weed like crazy!
  5. Remove all of the less promising pumpkins that are still on the vine. Put all your attention on the best one.
  6. Nurture your one special pumpkin. Put all your attention on this pumpkin; stand guard over your “baby.”
  7. Watch it grow. Eventually, this will happen so fast you can actually watch it unfolding.

So What Does this Have to Do with Real Estate?

The pumpkin plan is perfect for real estate.

Here is a 7 step process for pumpkin planning your own business.

1. Focus like a farmer.

If you want to grow a really big pumpkin — aka a really successful business — you have to focus like a farmer. Identify and leverage your biggest strengths.

Stop doing things that don’t come naturally. Let someone else do those things.

2. Sell, sell, sell.

Figure out where you want to be positioned in your market.

  • Are you the cheap guy?  (It’s never a good idea to compete on price.) You will never get ahead of the “JetBlues” and the “Southwests” by competing on price alone.
  • Are you the luxury brand? Trying to be a “Mercedes” or “Virgin Atlantic” is tough. You will always have to invest a lot of money in your business to stay on top of the luxury brand, and there will always be someone on your heels trying to knock you out of that #1 position.
  • Are you the best overall solution to your target market’s problem? I think this is the place most folks can build an outstanding business. After all, with some exceptional customer skills, anyone can be better than just about everyone else. Most companies are just getting by when it comes to customer service.

3. Fire all your rotten clients.

Yes, this can be painful when you really need a paycheck this week. In real estate that might mean passing on deals that don’t strictly fit your criteria.

You can pass on them and still pass them on to another investor who is looking for those types of properties (aka wholesaling).  If you want to be known as the guy who turns out great rehabs in nice middle class neighborhoods, don’t confuse folks by buying property in the “hood.”

4. Don’t be blinded by “shiny object syndrome.”

Don’t let things disguised as new opportunities grab your attention; stay focused on your giant pumpkin. Identify the one thing you want to be known for and do it exceptionally well.

5. Identify your top clients and focus all your attention on them.

Remove the rest of your less promising “pumpkins.” In real estate, find your niche and focus all your attention on those people or that niche in your business.

If you are a rehabber, resist the urge to jump into another sideline until you have mastered your “thing.”

6. Focus all your attention on your “one thing.”

That might be rehabbing your properties to a level that makes them sell like hotcakes. Are you known as THAT rehabber?

If you are a wholesaler, that might mean focusing all your attention on finding only the properties that your best buyers on your buyer’s list want. Sure, you might make a couple of bucks on a house in one of those less desirable neighborhoods, but then you can’t sell it to your top buyers, and you have to waste a lot of time finding a buyer the hard way.

If you are a landlord, focus on finding properties in the best areas that will attract the best tenants, then wow them with your superior service.

7. Watch your pumpkin grow to a giant size.

The Secret Sauce

Here is the “secret sauce”: find out who your ideal client or customer is, exactly what it is that they want or need, and then do your best to give it to them. Once you know what this is, you can replicate the same process over and over.

Related: The Best Books You Can Read To Succeed in Real Estate

Remember what I said earlier? You can’t be the perfect solution for everyone. You can, however, be the perfect solution for your perfect clients.

Final Thoughts

This is a great book with actionable steps that can be used in any business, but it is really perfect for real estate investors, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy and start to “pumpkin plan” your business.

Will you implement any of these steps into your business? Have you read a great book lately?

I would love to hear about it! Please comment below.

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. WOW! Amazing article. I really enjoyed and picked great ideas from it.
    Sharon, I always look forward to reading your articles, you deliver great content that anyone can implement.

  2. “Do one thing, and do it better than anyone else”
    -Orval Redenbacher

    I’m glad to hear this point re-emphasized. Focussing on one thing can be one of the toughest things to do, but necessary for great progress.

    Thanks for the guidance!
    – Jordan

    • Yes it can Jordan. Shiny objects are everywhere.

      I think one of the biggest lessons I got from this book was to really figure out who your ideal customer is. That is the person you want to build your business around. Not the ones that you have to work so hard to please. Find your ideal customer (or work in the niche where you can use your “core genius”) and do everything in your power give them what they want or need. This is a great book.


  3. Really good article Sharon.
    Lots of good points to ponder and act on.

    Good timing on doing the first book review in a while.
    Just sent my wife an email with the Amazon link letting her know to let anyone looking for birthday or Christmas ideas know I want this. 🙂

    • it’s really a great book Shaun. You will like it.

      Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to please everyone that we end up wowing no one. That was one point that really hit home with me. I also really like the analogy of the pumpkin farmer trying to grow that (one) great big pumpkin.


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