Sigmoid curves

Everything in life goes through cycles. A useful way to think about these cycles is by using sigmoid curves. The Sigmoid curve is a mathematical concept that has been widely used to model the natural life cycle of many things, from biological organisms to schools and companies, marriages, and careers. The curve is basically a stretched-out S shape lying on its side and can be thought of as having three sections, each of which corresponds to a phase of growth.

Learning Phase

At the start of any business or career, there is lots of learning. This is really hard work and often there is no tangible reward. It’s like when you plant a seed and it takes weeks to sprout. You may not see anything happening but there is a lot of growth happening. This stage is especially hard for startups and many give up here. However, you need to persist and learn as much as possible about your business. This knowledge will compound over time and you’ll be better prepared for the growth phase.

Growth Phase

Things begin to take off at this stage. You get promoted at work. Revenues increase. You scale your business. Things are generally good on the way up. Growth is evident and tangible during this phase.

Decline Phase

All good things don’t last and the growth phase leads into the decline phase. Revenues level off and may indeed fall. There is a bit of stagnation and if you are not careful things can become worse. 


The best strategy when you reach the peak is to start climbing another sigmoid curve. This can be scary and humbling because you have to start at the bottom once again. This may mean changing careers or starting a new business. Now if you manage to consistently ascend successive sigmoid curves you will end up quite far indeed.

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