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Pink Goldfish: The 5 Factors that Influence Growth

Pink Goldfish Image

Image by Coyle Studios via AMA Baltimore

There’s a good chance you’re not the only organization in your field. What are you doing to grow and stand out from your competition? Are you leveraging what makes your organization unique? Do you have a strong handle on what that is?

Stan Phelps, customer experience and engagement expert; speaker; author of ten books on driving growth and differentiation, increasing loyalty and promoting positive word of mouth, spoke to StarChapter customers and prospects and discussed the importance of understanding and embracing “different” and how taking advantage of being different can be used to grow an organization.

On average, goldfish grow to around three inches long. But some can be as long as 20 inches. Phelps' basic premise is that the five factors affecting the growth of a goldfish are the same ones that drive the growth of organizations.

  1. The size of the bowl. The bigger the bowl, the bigger the fish. How big is your bowl, i.e. the market you serve? Your organization has the potential to grow big enough to serve your entire market.
  2. The total number of goldfish in the bowl. The more goldfish in a bowl, the harder it is for them to grow. You’re competing against other organizations for attention, mindshare, and dollars, and with a lot of competition, there’s a good chance you’ll see less growth than an organization with less.
  3. Quality of their water. The nutrients in the water and the clarity of that water directly impact the size of goldfish; the more nutrients they get and the clearer the water, the bigger the fish. How’s your water quality, i.e. the environment you’re in? How do outside forces like the economy impact your ability to bring in revenue from sponsors and new members? Your ability to grow is impacted by things like consumer confidence and the willingness of companies and individuals to pay for what you offer.
  4. Their first 4 months. Goldfish are tiny when they’re born, and they have hundreds of brothers and sisters. Many survive and thrive while countless others do not; their beginnings determine how big they ultimately get. This first 120 days of life is equivalent to your startup phase. How strong your organization is “out of the gate,” directly correlates with your growth. Do you have all of the necessary processes in place to keep you growing for the long-term?
  5. Genetic makeup. What separates one goldfish from the others in the bowl? Does he have bigger gills that allow him to take in more oxygen? Is she able to access more food because she’s stronger than the other goldfish? What makes you stand out from others that offer similar services? Those differentiators are a big part of your continued growth.

Which of these factors can you control? You don’t have much control over outside influences, like the number of competitors or the size of the overall market you’re in, but you can control those things that make you stand out and allow you to better engage with your audience.

Remarkably, the number of organizations that clarify their differentiators and figure out how to use them to their advantage is small. In a future post, we’ll talk about Phelps’ 7 types of pink goldfish and how being a specific type of pink goldfish can make you stand out above the other fish in your bowl.


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