Mike Michalowicz, author of “The Pumpkin Plan” and director of outreach at Nextiva.com, surveyed the crowd as he stepped up to the microphone last Thursday night.
At 24, Michalowicz and his family lived out of a retirement home. He had quit his job and decided to start his own business with no contacts, no experience and no savings. That changed as he founded three multimillion-dollar businesses, wrote two books and resolved himself to help other entrepreneurs do the same.
“Mike’s ability signifying how to nurture business ideas and then grow them into multimillion-dollar successful businesses in a simple and common sense way excited the entire student body,” Prof. Zarik Boghossian, a professor at Seaver College and Graziadio School of Business and Management, wrote in an email. “He is a genuine human being with great respect for life and loves mentoring our young generation and our future leaders.”
Michalowicz explained how collegiate entrepreneurs have access to powerful business-class technologies that equalize the playing field with big business. Michalowicz suggested tools and services such as Nextiva.com for phone systems and Google Drive for data storage.
“I want to show students simplified ways to manage cash flow in a business and become profitable in the business,” Michalowicz said. “I am doing this for a couple reasons: one is to spread the word to collegiate kids about the process of becoming an entrepreneur, and the other is to educate kids on the advantages they have as millennials … You can accomplish today what 5 or 10 years ago was impossible.
“What I wanted to share in this presentation is what I studied — colossal pumpkin farming,” he said. “Once you understand this process, it also applies to many facets of life.”
Michalowicz used the colossal pumpkin as a metaphor for a successful entrepreneurial business.
He broke down the process into five steps: seed selection — the entrepreneur must choose a unique product that has high demand. Sprout analysis — the entrepreneur picks the few things he or she is exceptional at and then exploits them. Watering process — the entrepreneur markets the product just the optimal amount, not too much and not too little. Root analysis — the entrepreneur works with the other companies their customer has hired to achieve optimal service. Pruning — the entrepreneur only focuses on the things that could help the business, or the colossal pumpkin.
One of the many things Michalowicz focused in his speech was the importance of uniqueness in starting a business.
“On my desk I have a quote from Oscar Wilde … it says, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is [already] taken.’ That is uniqueness,” Michalowicz said. “Uniqueness is often something you were picked on for in grade school.”
Michalowicz stated that if a unique product has a high demand, and the business is able to turn prospects customers, customers to money, money to service and service to referrals, then that would be a successful business.
Every action made by an entrepreneur should be for the sake of the colossal pumpkin. “When a little opportunity sprouts up … If it isn’t serving the colossal pumpkin, its gone,” said Michalowicz.
According to Michalowicz, similar to growing a colossal pumpkin, starting a company may fail, but a colossal entrepreneur does not give up. “They simply say ‘It wasn’t my season,’ and then go for it again and again until it sticks.
“When I teach this process to entrepreneurs, they’re too scared,” Michalowicz said, “but there is nothing better, nothing more rewarding and nothing will teach you more about yourself than entrepreneurship.”
Although the risks are high, Michalowicz urged students to stick with their dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
“It may not be your season, but if you stick with it, over time your season will come, you will have your process and you will have your success,” said Michalowicz.
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As published in the Oct. 31 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.