Achieving Critical Mass

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May 31, 2022

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What Is Critical Mass?

It can sometimes appear as if major changes occur at random.

A country is stable one minute, then a revolution breaks out and the government is ousted the next. A new piece of technology seems innovative one day, then everyone has it the next, and we can’t picture life without it. Alternatively, an idea may persist on the periphery of society before becoming mainstream.

Critical mass, also known as the boiling point, the percolation threshold, the tipping point, and a variety of other terms, is the point at which something (an idea, a belief, a trend, a virus, or behavior, for example) has gained enough traction to grow or sustain a process, reaction, or technology. Critical mass can help us understand the world around us as a mental model by allowing us to predict changes before they happen, make sense of turbulent times, and even delve deeper into our own behaviors.

Critical Mass in Physics

The smallest amount of fissile material required to establish a self-sustaining fission chain reaction under specified conditions is known as a critical mass in nuclear physics.

Nuclear power plants operate on the principle of nuclear fission, in which huge atoms are broken down into smaller ones by firing neutrons at them, releasing a large amount of energy. This energy is released as heat, which causes water to boil; the steam generated by the boiling water powers a turbine, which generates electricity.

However, a nuclear power plant requires a specific amount of nuclear material to operate. The critical mass is the amount that is required. Critical mass is the smallest amount of nuclear material required to keep a chain reaction going indefinitely. The critical mass of a material is determined by its characteristics as well as its temperature.

The phrase critical mass comes from nuclear physics and refers to the smallest mass that can keep a nuclear reaction going at a steady rate. It refers to a point where a self-sustaining state is reached in both physics and finance.

The reaction metaphor also connotes a business’s desire to expand. While a company can be self-sustaining at an operating capacity greater than its critical mass, its executives must ensure that future expansion is sustainable.

Critical Mass in Sociology

A critical mass is a word used in sociology to describe a group of people who make a significant change in their behavior, views, or activities.

Only a few people in some societies (for example, a small Amazonian tribe) have the power to change the status quo. For a shift to occur in larger civilizations (in particular, ones with a great lot of control over individuals, such as North Korea), the figure must usually be higher.

“When enough people (a critical mass) think about and truly consider the plausibility of a concept, it becomes reality.”

—Joseph Duda

Critical Mass in Business

The size of a company’s workforce, resources, sales, and market share determines its critical mass. A corporation is said to have attained critical mass when these elements have grown to the scale that allows it to operate efficiently. The point at which a corporation becomes profitable is known as critical mass.

Consider the case of Company A, which has been experiencing stable growth and increasing market strength. Company A was able to spend more cash and hire more people because of consistent revenues. A’s productivity grew as a result, and their sales exceeded their expenses, making them profitable. Because the company’s capital and people resources have reached a size where they can sustain themselves through productive efficiency, it is considered to have hit critical mass.

Depending on the business, competition, initial costs, products, and other economic factors, the exact threshold and time to reach critical mass very greatly.

Critical Mass in Investing

Robert “Bob” John Brinker, a famous financial radio talk show host of Money Talk, defines Critical Mass as “A state of freedom from worry and anxiety about money due to the accumulation of assets which make it possible to live your life as you choose without working if you prefer not to work or just working because you enjoy your work but don’t need the income. Plainly stated, the Land of Critical Mass is a place in which individuals enjoy their own personal financial nirvana. Differentiation between earned income and assets is a fundamental lesson to learn when thinking in terms of critical mass. Earned income does not produce critical mass……critical mass is strictly a function of assets.”

If you’re doing it right, you’re putting aside a significant portion of your monthly income (say, 25-50 percent) and investing it in stocks, bonds, and real estate.

Even if you save a lot, your net worth will be low at first, and the money you make from investments will be small, perhaps a few thousand rupees each month. Your investments, on the other hand, will grow in value as your net worth grows. Your assets will eventually pay you the equivalent of a minimum wage job, followed by a lower-middle-class salary. Something wonderful will happen at some point. Your assets will outperform your annual spending, and you will be able to accomplish whatever you desire with your life – or as Bob Brinker says, you’ve reached the land of critical mass.

Establishing Critical Mass

It takes five years for a Chinese bamboo tree to grow. Every day, it must be watered and fertilized in the ground where it was planted. It takes five years for it to break through the ground. It will grow 90 feet tall in five weeks after five years, once it breaks through the ground. Reaching critical mass is quite similar to growing a Chinese bamboo tree.

Establishing your Critical Mass might be a difficult task for some people. When determining your Critical Mass, all elements must be examined, including inflation, life expectancy, health care, long-term care, future inheritance, increasing/decreasing bills, less activity in later years of retirement, future investment returns, and future interest rates.

The most effective strategy to reach Critical Mass is to save heavily in the early years and accumulate as quickly as possible. It’s not a bad idea to take it slowly and steadily until you’re in your 50s if you save well. By keeping this in mind, one can transition from highly difficult professions to less stressful ones well before retirement.

It is only by putting in consistent investments, efforts, and resources for a significant amount of time, you can experience growth as high as a Chinese bamboo tree.

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The author of the blog Mr.Suyog Dhavan is a Full-time Investor / Value Trader and Value investing/Trading Mentor. His style of Investing is inspired by Mohnish Pabrai, Peter Lynch, and Porinju Veliath. He is the founder of Strategic Alpha Wealth, A Premier stock market mentorship firm with a mission to touch the lives of 1Lakh people through its mentorship program.

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