As entrepreneurs, we have all fallen victim to Shiny Object Syndrome: the desire to use and interact with new tools, platforms, and ideas without realizing that they are distracting us from growing our businesses.
Few opportunities that come across your desk are clear winners - many are a big question mark and require a lot of time and effort to assess. Using the below method for assessing opportunities will make the process faster and ensure due diligence has been done.
1. Have a Plan
Without my annual success plan, I would never reach my goals or even come close! Jumping into a new project with just an idea and no plan almost guarantees similar results. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement that comes with new projects or opportunities, but it’s important to consider the hard work and effort that go along with executing them.
Before you can confidently commit to adding another project, you need to create a plan for the core of your business that details all of the steps, roles, and responsibilities that the project will need to succeed. Such as:
Who does the project involve?
What roles do these people play and what are their responsibilities?
What needs to get done for this project to be successful?
These are all important questions to ask when creating a plan for your project.
Once you have a plan and you understand what your personal role and responsibilities would be with the new project, you’ll need to consider if you have enough time in your current schedule/workflow to take on the new project and contribute effectively, without burning yourself out. If you can’t justify adding the required time it will take to work on the new project to your schedule, then you need to put that project on the shelf for later.
Focusing on the projects you already have in progress will allow you to reach your current goals, which will then give you more time to start and complete your future projects. If you spread your efforts across too many projects, you’re less likely to succeed in any of them. Instead, focus on fewer opportunities to ensure your best effort is being put into the work that will bring the most ROI to your business.
2. Use an Ideas Journal
When a new idea or opportunity presents itself try writing it in an ideas journal. This journal can sit on your desk or even a note taking App on your phone. Try to discipline yourself to always write the idea here first. Then schedule a time in your calendar to review these ideas. Maybe twice per month. Find a time in your daily schedule where you know you are usually in a positive mindset. This will allow you to be a better critical thinker. Oftentimes, we are in a negative state when we first discover this new opportunity in the first place. When we are not progressing with our most important targets, we often wander and unconsciously look for a quick fix. In my experience, these “ideas” won’t look as good when reviewed later while in a positive mindset.
3. Vet ideas with your team
We all have a team around us. A group of people that we approach with our ideas, problems, and solutions and then trust their opinions and value their feedback. Situations where you find yourself getting excited about a new project are no exception. Bounce your idea, plan, and how you expect to manage your time effectively off of your trusted team. With a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective, your team could point out potential roadblocks, opportunities, or strategies that you have not yet considered.
From your team’s insight, you will have a more concrete idea on whether you have the time to add your new project to your plate, or if your new project needs to rest until you have more time to dedicate to it.
Your team doesn’t care about your immediate need for something exciting. They will be able to evaluate any opportunity or change much more intelligently.
Without a decision matrix for opportunities it can seem impossible to decipher its value. Having a model to quickly evaluate if you should consider an idea or flat out walk away would save a lot of time and energy. We often don’t think about the opportunity cost as it relates to everything else we are working towards. Our decision matrix takes 1 minute to run through - it’s a series of questions that will provide a score. This score is attached to a legend that directs the next action. Depending on the score you may walk away, or otherwise enlist one of the other 4 strategies listed in this article. Download our decision matrix below!
5. Run a micro test
You have a plan, you’ve had your team look it over, but you’re still on the fence on whether your new project is going to help or hinder attaining your goals. Why not test your new project out at a very small scale first?
If you see some potential value in your project, but you are not 100% convinced that value is real yet, creating a minimal viable product (MVP) can give you more insight into whether the project is right for you. An MVP is simply a small model of the actual version of the project.
For example, if I was considering offering a free course on influencer marketing to my audience, I would create a blog post describing the basics and benefits of influencer marketing first. The blog post would represent the MVP in this scenario, and would be shared with a trusted group of my audience to see how they react and gain their feedback. Or, if I wanted to start a new business it would make more sense to go talk to future customers and ask them: “if I created this business model would they agree to be my first few customers?”. The only caveat to running a test is doing it quickly. I would say that within 60-90 days you should be able to make an educated decision.
Distractions are part of being an entrepreneur, but they don’t have to pull the business off track. Some simple strategies to avoid shiny object syndrome are all you need. Planning, recording ideas, consulting your team, having a decision making matrix and testing will bring the growth you’re looking for.