The Five Keys to Entrepreneurial Growth and the Importance of Differentiation


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This post was originally posted on the site Entrepreneurs Questions:

goldfish-growth-five-factorsYour growth as an entrepreneur is similar to the growth of a goldfish. The average common goldfish is four inches, yet the largest in the world is almost five times that size?

Five Times Larger!!! Imagine walking down the street and bumping into someone 25 feet tall? How can there be such a disparity between an ordinary goldfish and their monster cousins? It turns out that the growth of a goldfish is determined by five questions. Your growth as an entrepreneur and that of your product or service is similar to that of a goldfish:

Let’s examine the FIVE key questions:

1. How big is the size of your bowl?

We’ve all heard this before about goldfish. Their GROWTH is based on the size of the water the goldfish is in. It’s a direct correlation. The larger the bowl or pond, the larger the goldfish can grow. The smaller the bowl, the lesser the growth.

As an entrepreneur, the bowl or the pond is the size of the MARKET for you product or service.

2. How many other Goldfish are in the Bowl or the Pond?

The number of other goldfish in the bowl or pond will determine how big a goldfish can get. It’s an inverse correlation. The more goldfish, the less growth.

Who are the other goldfish if you are an entrepreneur? They are your COMPETITION. The less competition, the more growth opportunity exists.

3. What is the quality of the water in the bowl or the pond?

The clarity and amount of nutrients in the water will determine how big a goldfish can get. It’s a direct correlation, the better the quality, the larger they can grow.

Your water as an entrepreneur is the overall ECONOMY. Factors such as the ability to raise funds or obtain access to capital markets. The more cloudy the business environment, the more difficult it is to grow.

4. How is the goldfish treated in the first 120 days of life?

The nourishment and treatment a goldfish receives as a fry (baby goldfish) will determine how big they can get. This is another direct correlation. The lower the quality of the food / water, the more the goldfish will be stunted for future growth. FACT: The difference between the largest and smallest goldfish is by over a factor of 10. The difference between an average and the largest is by a factor of 5.

These four-months as an entrepreneur are the first 120 days of a START-UP or a new product or service. The stronger the start, the better the growth potential.

5. What’s your genetic make-up compared to other goldfish?

The genetic make-up of the goldfish will determine how big it can grow. Once again, this is a direct correlation. The poorer the genes or the less differentiated, the less the goldfish can grow.

As an entrepreneur, these are your unique points of DIFFERENTIATION. The more differentiated the product or service from the competition, the better the chance for growth.

Summary: Which of the five factors can you control? Let’s assume you have an existing product or service and your startup has existed for more than four months. Do you have any control over the market, your competition or the economy? NO, NO and NO. The only thing you have control over is your genetic make-up or how you differentiate your product or service. How do you rise above the noise in the marketplace. How do you stand out in a “sea of sameness?”

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a look at “Goldie,” one of the World’s Largest Goldfish:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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