Is it a good thing to be ahead of the curve?
I was talking to a client who described himself as being ahead of the curve and we got to discussing the significance of being in that position.
Then I got to thinking about what it actually means.
The ‘curve’ is the bell curve, a statistical model of standard deviation showing results that peak in the middle with fewer examples at either end (massive oversimplification).
If you’re ahead of the curve, it means you’re ahead of the majority which can have mixed blessings.
I’ve often been an early adopter of tech in the communication field (first computer in 1986, blogging, Ning, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, Google plus, Hangouts, podcasting, Zoom, etc.) so you could say I was ahead of the curve but it was generally a pain waiting for other people to catch up.
Being ahead of the curve with ideas is different.
If you try to bring new ideas to the market most people aren’t ready to hear what you’ve got to say. They’re certainly not looking for your solutions because they don’t know they exist.
A version of this post relating to tech ideas appears on the Dress Code Shirts website.
By the time they do, your competitors will likely have caught up too.
So what’s the advantage of being ahead of the curve?
Your competitors will love you. They won’t have to do the leg work – you’re doing it all for them. They’ll keep an eye on you and jump on the band waggon as soon as it looks like its popular.
This can obviously be very frustrating but its no reason to give up. These people are not in the same market as you and by the time they’ve started copying your ideas you’ll have already moved on. (They’ll still talk like they’ve just invented ice-cream but you’ll be serving affogatos.)
The people who really appreciate new ideas are also ahead of the curve. They’re the ones who like to hear about new, innovative, brave, breakthrough, disruptive opportunities.
They’re the people who know you don’t get new answers unless you ask new questions.
If you’re ahead of the curve with the answers, the people who are ahead of the curve with their questions are your market. There are fewer of them but they’re more exciting to work with.
You don’t want to work with the people who’ve always done it that way, who don’t want to take risks, so the way you talk is important.
Talk about new solutions, how you’re helping the most innovative, brave, breakthrough, disruptive businesses do things better.
Make them want you like a jaded diner wants a different way to have ice-cream and coffee.
Want to be wanted? Get in touch and I’ll help you work it out.