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What Pumpkins Can Teach Us About Sustainable Business Growth


A growing business requires expanding strategies. Many organizations are familiar with big decisions that eliminate products, reduce services or end large projects. Google closed endeavors like Google Reader; Moz ended Moz Content; and HubSpot stopped their keyword tool.

No matter what industry you’re in or the size of your company, situations like this will arise. And sometimes you have to cut down the elements that hinder the opportunities for revenue or growth. When you face that decision, turn to pumpkins.

What can pumpkins teach us about sustainable business growth?

During the Autumn, you’ll see fresh orange pumpkins everywhere! Carved on front porches, decoratively laid on tables, adorning shirts, and pictured on seasonal decorations. Take this Fall to learn a few valuable lessons from the farmers who grow pumpkins.

Pumpkin farmers (not the kind who grow a small amount of pumpkins for Halloween) strategically adjust how they grow pumpkins to yield a larger crop. Business owners and entrepreneurs can do the same thing; they can make a few small changes to produce huge results.

Apply the unique strategies of pumpkin farmers to your business to see sustainable growth.

First, plant your seeds.

These specific farmers grow pumpkins. Although their land could produce other crops or even raise animals, pumpkin farmers choose to plant pumpkin seeds.

What does your business “grow?” Are you overextending your resources to please everyone you meet? Or are you trying to offer products/services that are outside of your expertise?

Learn a simple lesson from pumpkin farmers: plant your specific seeds. Identify what your business is about and what you do well - offer that “crop” to your audience. Plant and water those seeds the way a pumpkin farmer tends his freshly sown pumpkin seeds.

Then, don’t be afraid to shift from quantity to quality.

This is tough, both for pumpkin farmers and business owners. First, accept the fact that more is not always better. More customers, more services, more products. More pumpkins, more, more, more! Shift that ideal to better is better.

Assess your current situation. Are your strategies suffocating because you’re attempting to do too many things at once? What would happen if you reduced those broad efforts and centralized your focus on just a few areas?

Now, think about your employees. Are your staff members being burned out by chasing after too many clients? This will continually be a struggle as you grow your company and expand your team. Plus, it’s easier for your employees to work with fewer clients that generate more revenue than to juggle multiple accounts that don’t deliver much revenue.

Next, consider your customers. Which ones don’t provide enough return for your efforts? Establish a plan to respectfully end those relationships in order to focus on the ones that deliver more value.

Pumpkin farmers are sometimes required to tourniquet vines so that the healthy ones don’t get choked out. It’s worth pruning the bad vines so you don’t hinder the growth of healthy vines.

I understand, that’s tough. Let go clients? That sounds crazy! But imagine how much more time, energy and attention you can offer to those valuable clients instead of floundering with invaluable ones. The pumpkin farmer knows what he’s doing when he eliminates vines; harness his confidence as you take the same approach to your business.

Wondering how to let customers go? Here’s a few suggestions:

  • When you decide to end engagement with a client, offer plenty of notice before you terminate the business relationship.
  • Suggest other reliable companies who would be better suited to meet that customer’s needs.
  • Detail a transition plan. Include how you they can transfer to another company. Perhaps you personally talk with the new company to offer insights into your history with this client, or maybe you can offer to train one of their internal company team members.
  • If a customer gets upset that you are phasing them out, be understanding. Remind them that another company will be better suited to meet their needs. End the relationship well, by staying in communication and being helpful.

Then, gaze at your crops.

You’re doubled down on your niche and reduced the tough customers that drain you and your team. Now your crops have room to grow!

As you observe your “crops,” are there any weeds sprouting up among your vines? Trim out the excess surplus that is squandering your growth. In addition to difficult clients, perhaps you spend too much on unnecessary expenses, pay for tools that you don’t actually use, or focus your efforts in the wrong areas.

This is also the perfect time to remind your customers of the value that you deliver, just like the Fall is the best season for farmers to advertise their pumpkins. Personalize a message to each of your clients, reminding them what you offer them and how your relationship is mutually beneficial.

Now, it’s harvest time!

Look at the big picture: how you took those little seeds and grew them into a field of pumpkins! You strategically took your business toward more revenue generating opportunities and strengthened client relationships.

As the seasons change, look out for future weeds. Is that new client extremely profitable but will eventually become another weed in the patch? Is that decision to grow something else during the off-pumpkin season a good idea? Keep in mind that you’re a pumpkin farmer (insert your niche here), and pumpkins (insert your niche here) are your speciality.

Would you like to learn more about being a specialized pumpkin farmer? Unfortunately, we don’t know a whole lot about pumpkins, but we know an awful lot about business! We can help you transform your business toward sustainable growth opportunities. Fill out the form below to get started!

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