“When all is well and you are at the top of your game, then you know it is time to plan your exit.” – Michael, The Lesson of the Sigmoid Curve
The Sigmoid Curve is a concept that originated in mathematics (see formula to the right), but represents a phenomenon in businesses, life and relationships.
Essentially, all things run in a cycle. Every growth curve will plateau, and that’s when you should begin a new curve.
For example, a new venture has a learning and adjustment period wherein lots of hard work may not produce any tangible results. You could network, invest in prototypes, and spend late nights trying to fix one coding error without seeing any progress.
Then, a period of growth occurs where your business or career grows; your connections pay off, a prototype works, or a website is taking shape. The upward curve continues.
It’s when you are almost at your peak (about 75 to 80 percent of the way) that you need to begin thinking of your next curve; jump off as you near the top and start again from there. Invest in a new venture, remake your blog, branch into another sector of your industry, offer a new product, change the way you advertise, switch up your marketing plan, etc.
You need to jump, because if you continue to do what you always do, eventually profits will decline. Your audience will get tired of seeing the same ad over and over again. Your customers will require change.
“Successful people are regularly reinventing themselves, their careers and their relationships, rising to new challenges and pushing through painful new phases of growth. The junction between the first and second is not easy or clean. There is always a period of confusion, where the first curve is being abandoned and the second one embraced. This is a time of overlap, or ambiguity and of confusion,” Michael says.
The dangerous part about sticking to your original curve for too long is that when it eventually falls, you will fall with it…and often the second curve relies on the profits of the first curve to begin.
“Preparing for the second curve too early is far better than waiting until it is too late and the decline has set in. If you reach phase three before jumping off, you won’t have the energy and the enthusiasm to make the change so easily and there is less chance of success. Riding the first curve while cultivating the second is always the best option. Clinging to the first and trying to prolong it is a pointless waste of energy.”
The solution is education and an unyielding sense of adventure. Learn new skills and explore new pursuits before your current ventures grow stale.
Learn more about the Sigmoid Curve (and the “strategic inflection point”) by watching this great video.