The Dip

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

Another fascinating book from one of my favorite authors is entitled “The Dip: When to Quit and When to Stick” by Seth Godin.

It’s all about knowing when to quit because you are no longer the best or second to the best, especially applied in running a business.  He starts by explaining why it’s important to be the best.  “We reward the product or the song or the organization or the employee that is number one. The rewards are heavily skewed, so much so that it’s typical for #1 to get ten times the benefit of #10, and a hundred times the benefit of #100. Why? People don’t have a lot of time and don’t want to take a lot of risks. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer of the navel, you’re not going to mess around by going to a lot of doctors. You’re going to head straight for the “top guy,” the person who’s ranked the best in the world. Why screw around if you get only one chance?”

Let’s say you are into a new business.  You were struggling with that business at the start but then after two years it picked up and went on to become one of the best in the market.  But then after five years you are experiencing a downturn in sales.  You are now in a dilemma if this downturn is a sign to quit and start a new business or persist because you are just experiencing the so-called temporary “dip” in business.

The author says, “Quitting when you hit the Dip is a bad idea. If the journey you started was worth doing, then quitting when you hit the Dip just wastes the time you’ve already invested…The people who set out to overcome the Dip—the people who invest the time and the energy and the effort to power through the Dip—those are the ones who become the best in the world.”

Here are his 3 Ways to Make the Best Decision when experiencing the Dip:

Decide When You’ll Quit in Advance

Seth says, “Quitting when you’re panicked is dangerous and expensive. The best quitters are the ones who decide in advance when they’re going to quit.” Before entering a Dip, ask yourself: “How much time and money am I willing to sacrifice? How much short-term

discomfort am I willing to endure?” Based on these limits, are you likely to get through the Dip? If yes, proceed and only quit if you’re pre-defined quitting limits have been exceeded or something fundamental has changed.

In our previous business example, you might say, if I exceed a million in loses it’s time to quit and shift to a new business.  Or if your limit is based on time, let’s say after a year if sales don’t improve then it’s time to move on to a new venture.

Influence a Market not an Individual

The odds of successfully influencing an individual (changing the mind of a manager or client) are quite low. After a few failed attempts at influencing an individual, persistence turns into pestering and the individual will resist all future influencing efforts.

However, the odds of successfully influencing a market are quite high. Although some people will ignore you (or even reject you), there are still people in the market who haven’t heard of you. You can you use your failed attempts to improve your solution and influence another area of the market.

J.K. Rowling the author of Harry Potter books was rejected 12 times before she was accepted by a publisher.  She succeeded because she tried influencing a market of publishers and not just a few ones.

Place Your Focus on Small Progress

If you think you are experiencing a dip, try to make changes in your business that will make a small progress.  But don’t fall for the saying “surviving is succeeding” that although you are making a small progress but you are stuck with that little progress.  The author says, the challenge is to surface new milestones in areas where you have previously expected to find none.  It would mean making more sales from a product that was previously doing badly and so you should continue with your business, otherwise it’s time to quit.