When you look at the world through the eyes of an entrepreneur you may feel like a kid in a candy store. There are so many opportunities, and you want to try everything! (If you don’t feel this way and your problem is coming up with an idea, I have a post for you coming up…).
However, a problem that plagues many entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs is “Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS)”, the desire to try out several of their ideas at once. Steve Jobs once said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” Can you identify with that?
When you fall victim to SOS, you may:
- Give up on a good idea when you start to meet some resistance, because the newest shiny object sounds easier and more exciting when you’re in the trenches with your current project
- Burn out from the energy required by pursuing several ideas at once
- Begin and fail to follow through at all on good ideas and miss out on seeing them come to fruition
- Waste precious time and money
I often think back to some of the ideas I started to pursue years ago and wonder what would have happened if I had been focused and followed them through. I am a classic sufferer of SOS, but here are a few ways I stay focused when I see a Shiny Object:
Extrapolate your current trajectory
Look at the project you’re currently pursuing (if there is one). Where do you hope to see it 5 years from now? What do you need to do to get there?
Analyze your Current Project (see: How to Know if your Idea is a Good One)
If you are thinking of pursuing an alternate path, study your current one intently. How much time, effort, and money have you invested in it? Is it thriving? Is it at the point where you could outsource most of the tasks? If you have a thriving business and can find a way to automate it, you may be in a position to pursue another path. If not, decide what you need to do to improve the current project and get to the point of automation, and go all-in.
Ask Yourself if the Barrier to Entry is High Enough for any New Idea
It’s easy to fall victim to the promises made by people trying to sell courses, multi-level-marketing proponents, and anyone otherwise invested in you signing up to try a particular idea. But if the barrier to entry is low (just buy this $100 starter pack and you’ve got a business!), then anyone can do it, and the law of the universe is that your success will probably be limited. Don’t be tempted to stray when the going gets tough; hang in there, that may be an indication you’ve got a good idea!
Wait Before Taking a Leap
Despite what people may tell you who are trying to sell you an idea, you will not miss out by waiting a month. Time brings clarity; do your research.
Abandon if Necessary
If you have followed all the steps above and decided that the idea du jour is actually the one you want to pursue, be sure you are ready to abandon your current idea. Prepare to dive head-first into the new project!
Advertisers of Shiny Objects are really good at getting your attention. When you see their ads on social media channels, ask yourself “is this something that will improve my current business, or is this a divergent path?” before you even click. Save your time, money, and energy for things that will further your current project and contribute to your long-term plans; you are not missing out by ignoring the rest.
Good luck and stay ambitious!