I’ve been around long enough that I’ve seen many people achieve great success in the various communities I’ve participated in.

One of the patterns I’ve noticed is someone new to entrepreneurship building up to $1-5 million in revenue in three to five years (as an aside, this fits the 1,000 Day Principle- which I’ve been critical of elsewhere.)

I’ve also seen plenty of smart and diligent people wash out in three to five years with ho-hum growth in their business.

What separates the two is that the self-funded newbies who achieved exponential growth have always been in an emerging market.

We tend to treat these successes as, “Look! There was a hidden genius in our midst!” But it might be more accurate to say that someone was competent enough to ride a good wave.

I say “might be more accurate,” because I really don’t know. I don’t have full visibility into their efforts and what they brought to the table. But I can’t recall ever hearing a story about someone new experiencing quick exponential growth in an established market.

The other side to these stories is that for each of those newbies who find success in emerging markets there are many more where the market fails and takes them down with it. Many of those waves dissipate before reaching the shore.

But if you want the opportunity for rocket fueled growth, the leading edge is where you need to position your board… some of the time.

Featured image is The Triumph of Bacchus, a Roman mosaic from Africa Proconsolaris, dated 3rd century CE, now in the Sousse Archaeological Museum, Tunisia. Used under public domain.