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Do you always get excited about new projects? Does your heart start to beat faster whenever new business ideas pop up to your mind? About 543,000 new businesses get started every single month. Yet, only half survive five years or more, and a third don’t pass the two-year mark.

Shiny new technologies, such as machine learning, IoT, and artificial intelligence, open up a world of opportunities. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get excited about it and forget your priorities. This hurts your productivity and keeps you from reaching your goals.

Just because you have a great business idea, it doesn’t mean it will work. The latest technology doesn’t guarantee your success.

What’s the Shiny Object Syndrome All About?

The scenario described above is an example of the so-called shiny object syndrome. Even though it’s not a diagnosable affliction, it can set you back and affect your business — and your revenue.

Those who are dealing with this issue are constantly distracted by new ideas, technologies, or ways of working that come along. They hear all sorts of success stories or read about new business strategies, which convince them that they should be doing something different from what they’re doing now. Perhaps their business is going really well. Yet, they’re always after something else.

A good example of Shiny Object Syndrome, that I have experienced first-hand myself, is what I call the AppSumo effect. Click To Tweet

In case you don’t know, AppSumo is a daily deals site for online software and services. It’s like Groupon for entrepreneurs. 🙂 Just like over 700.000 other entrepreneurs, I’m subscribed to their mailing list and they often grab my attention with their very tempting discounts for interesting tools and services.

In the last 6 months, I have bought 10+ lifetime deals already (a low, one-time fee instead of a monthly subscription), saving me literally over $1000. But they have a downside as well, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to buy every piece of software, just out of fear of missing out (FOMO). And while I would save money compared to paying full price for these products, I don’t really need every SEO software tool there is. It’s easy to distract myself with the shiny new toys that come along. It’s not getting out of hand, but definitely something I need be aware of. 🙂

The same happens in business. Just because everyone is talking about the next big thing, social media platform or marketing tactic, it’s not an indicator of its high-quality and value. Sure, there is nothing wrong with starting new projects and creating new things. But there are a couple of things to consider before you jump in. Ask yourself:

  • Does this new idea align with your values?
  • Will it make your life better or easier?
  • What makes you believe that it works or that it’s better than what you already have?
  • Are you able to start this new project, plus implement and finish it?
  • Do you have the time, energy, and resources to put into this and make it work?
  • Is this business idea or project relevant to your clients? Are they willing to pay for it?
  • Is it worth the risk?

Unless you can answer Yes to all these questions, think twice about it. The allure of a new challenge is hard to beat, but the consequences could be disastrous. You might end up achieving nothing. In the worst case scenario, this constant chase for the unknown could ruin your business.

How to Beat the Shiny Object Syndrome

Your Twitter feed is full of bright, shiny ideas. Not to mention Facebook! As entrepreneurs, we’re bombarded with news about technological advancements and marketing strategies day in and day out. Everyone is talking about the latest software, gadget, or business opportunity. Furthermore, they back up their claims with success stories and amazing case studies, so it’s hard to resist.

But let’s face it: variety is the spice of life. We’re always in a rush for the next big thing instead of making the most of what we already have. The key to running a successful business is to take calculated risks. It took you lots of sweat, blood (hopefully not though), and tears to get where you are today – it is worth throwing everything away just because you’re bored, challenged by an issue, or eager to try something new?

The shiny object syndrome is a recipe for a failure. Because of it, you get distracted from the goals and projects you already have. Every time you start something new, you must give up something else in return. After all, you can’t do everything at once. Weigh the pros and cons, assess your options, and determine the risks.

For every new technology or idea that drives business growth, there are hundreds, if not thousands, that don’t. Investing your time and energy in the wrong projects will shift your focus from what really matters. On top of that, you’ll lose customers and revenue in the process. But saying No is always easy.

Use these strategies to beat the shiny object syndrome and set your priorities straight:

Focus on the Customer, Not the Product

Before starting a new project or a new business, consider your audience. Do you have an audience in the first place? How many people would be ready and willing to pay for your products? Will you be able to cover your expenses and generate profit in a timely manner?

Always focus on your customer and how your products benefit them. Be realistic about the outcome. Just because you have a brilliant idea, it doesn’t mean people will be willing to pay for it.

Always focus on your customer and how your products benefit them

Always focus on your customer and how your products benefit them

Sleep on It

Another strategy you can use is to postpone your decision for a week or two – or even longer. It’s easy to get excited when you stumble across new opportunities.

The same happens when you’re in a store and can pick just about anything from the shelves. You find yourself surrounded by cool stuff, whether it’s a new gadget or a new perfume brand. Remember how you feel a few days later? Most likely, you couldn’t care less about it.

Don’t make a decision right away. As time goes by, the excitement wears off and you start to see the drawbacks. Perhaps that new, shiny idea is costly or doesn’t appeal to your audience. Or the market is oversaturated with similar products. Maybe it’s not that great after all.

Research, Research, Research

Still thinking about it? That’s fine. Just make sure you take the time for research. Go online and look for information about the project, software, or business opportunity you’re interested in. Since it’s so popular, it should be easy to find reviews and forum threads on the topic.

Join Facebook groups and discussion boards to see what others are saying about it. Read the comments, ask questions, and gather as much information as possible. Don’t forget about online business magazines like Forbes and Entrepreneur. A product or technology that’s truly popular will likely be featured in the media. This should give you a pretty good of what to expect.

Also, discuss with other professionals and ask for their opinion. The more you know, the higher your chances to make a smart decision. Remember that sometimes quitting is the right thing to do. Focus on what you have now and strive to make it better.

Beware for analysis paralysis and the perfectionism quicksand though, but those are topics for another day 🙂