Shiny object syndrome is the tendency to chase something new and shiny… all the time. You might be working on a great business idea when suddenly, a new idea pops into your mind. You abandon the old idea and chase the new one until something shinier catches your attention. It’s a continuous and potentially dangerous cycle that can have a detrimental effect on your business.
On the other hand, having shiny object syndrome as an entrepreneur can also be a positive thing. You just need to know how to use it to your advantage without letting it destroy your productivity and business.
So, let’s find out to stop letting shiny object syndrome distract you from growing your business while also using it to your advantage where possible.
What is shiny object syndrome?
Shiny object syndrome (SOS) is a double-edged sword for entrepreneurs. You can use it to spark innovation, creativity, and growth. Or you can let it haunt you forever until you have a massive stack of abandoned ideas and projects that have been left to collect dust.
The media, and society in general, have given shiny object syndrome somewhat of a bad reputation. We’re told to stay away from it because it’s nothing more than a distraction. I mean, they have a good point. It can stop you from getting things done and cause you to become a jack of all trades but a master of none.
Shiny object syndrome: the pros
Shiny object syndrome can be a positive thing if you know how to leverage it in the right way. Entrepreneurs are innovators. Having shiny object syndrome helps you discover new solutions to existing problems and turn those solutions into a profitable enterprise.
If you are an entrepreneur, you have an inherent desire to keep looking for new solutions. Ideas come to you seemingly out of nowhere. You’re always looking for the next best solution and the one after that. Then, you explore these new ideas further and think about ways to make it even better.
As long as you don’t let your desire to find new solutions distract you from growing your business, you’re on the right side of shiny object syndrome.
Shiny object syndrome: the cons
Now it’s time to consider the dark side of shiny object syndrome. The most obvious con is that as entrepreneurs, we can get consumed with the notion that the new shiny thing is the key to our success. Of course, our attention on the new shiny thing is temporary because another new shiny thing will come up, and we’ll move to that one.
Not only do we distract ourselves constantly, but we also convince ourselves that we are productive. We might be on the lookout for a new productivity tool, so we spend far too long searching for one. In reality, all we need to do is write out a to-do list on a piece of paper and get on with it. However, we keep looking for ways to make something better to the point where we’re jumping from one thing to the next so much that we never get any actual work done.
When you keep distracting yourself with new and shiny things, it can become destructive to your business. To have an entrepreneurial business, you need to have an innovative side and the side where you run the business. One of the main reasons why one business fails, and another succeeds is the difference in how systematic and consistent they are in running that business.
There are ways that you can use shiny object syndrome to your benefit. Here’s just a few to get you started.
Benefits of shiny object syndrome
Be more strategic
No matter what industry you’re in, every business owner must be strategic. If something isn’t going to drive your business forward, don’t waste your time on it. Think about your goal and the ultimate destination that you want your business to reach. Then, strategize about how you are going to get to that destination. If something will help you reach that destination faster, do it. Otherwise, let it go!
For further advice about strategies and why all businesses, yes even small businesses, need one, read my previous blog “Why Your Small Business Needs A Strategy”.
Nobody ever got anywhere without focusing on what they wanted to achieve. With your strategy in place, the next thing to do is fine-tune your focus on that goal. Try to limit distractions as much as possible and yes, that includes new shiny things begging for your attention. Find ways to keep focused and if it helps, create a vision board to help remind you why you’re working so hard and what you will achieve when you accomplish your goals.
Sometimes, we need to slow down to speed up. As entrepreneurs, we can get so wrapped up in getting everything done as fast as possible that we don’t have time to optimise what we’re doing. Consistency is vital to growing your business. It isn’t easy to remain consistent and optimise your processes when you’re going from one thing to the next at lightning speed. If one thing doesn’t work, think about how you can optimise and improve it instead of giving up and jumping to something else. Slow down, take stock, and optimise what you’re doing so that you can master it.
Less is more
Be careful that you don’t take on too many things at once. If your plate is too full, you will struggle to master anything that you’re taking on. Shiny object syndrome allows you to discover new things. However, you don’t want to take on too much at any one time. Instead, focus on one thing and optimise that until you can master it. Less is more. By doing less, you will have more time to optimise the things that will help grow your business.
How to balance the pros and cons of shiny object syndrome
Shiny object syndrome can be a distraction, or it can benefit your business. So, how can you leverage shiny object syndrome, so that doesn’t get in the way of your businesses or your growth?
First, allow yourself playtime within your business. No, I’m not suggesting you bring a box of Legos to work and waste time building Lego towers in your office. Instead, I’m talking about playtime to try new things that may or may not drive your business forward. If you discover something that works, you can find a way to integrate it into your business. If it doesn’t work, move onto the next new thing. However, don’t spend all of your time playing around with new, shiny objects. Set aside time for this purpose, and don’t let it overlap with your other duties or responsibilities.
Another thing you can do is make sure that your business has a visionary and an integrator. Entrepreneurs are typically visionaries, which means we love to bounce around different ideas. However, we are usually not fans of implementing those ideas and coming up with systems, processes, and methods to measure progress. We need an integrator to handle those things because we burn out if we keep doing it ourselves.
So, find an integrator that allows you to play around with shiny object syndrome while they can actually put the necessary steps in motion to get things off the ground.
Shiny object syndrome does not have to be your downfall. You can learn to utilise it to help you find new innovative ideas and solutions to grow your business. Of course, it’s all about moderation. Don’t let shiny object syndrome distract you from what needs to be done to actually grow your business!
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