Shiny Object Syndrome is business babble for the all-too-common behavioural pattern many entrepreneurs follow where they become so enamoured with new projects and ideas that they become completely distracted, and end up spending too little time on the ideas they’ve already begun pursuing, essentially to the detriment of their already-existing projects.
It’s like having an A.D.D. approach to running a company, but where you never actually go back to give the original project the time of day it needs to make it grow. Shiny Object Syndrome can pretty easily wipe out any chance of an entrepreneur “making it” simply because things take more than a minute to rev up when you’re working on a business venture, let alone for them to finally reach full potential.
The issue as I see it:
Shiny Object Syndrome is not the only way of approaching new business ideas and starting up new projects. But because SOS is so common amongst entrepreneurs, it feels the most common advice you’ll get about adding a new project to the burner is to forget about it, concentrate on what you’ve got, and not get pulled into the “temptation” of any new ideas (since they’ll likely lead you astray from the pursuit of your current business plan).
But I think this is bad advice. I think new ideas are a healthy and important aspect of entrepreneurial life. They’re likely what got you where you are in the first place, and if you go about “handling them” the right way, your business life can really benefit from the so-called distraction.
Why Bother Thinking Up New Business Ideas?
So why the hell would you bother going down the rabbit hole, thinking up and potentially even working out the details of a shiny new project-object if you’ve already got an old one that’s got potential for growth if you only gave it the time of day it probably deserves?
The obvious reason: Your new business idea could be better than your old one.
Anyone who argues that dumping a load of time, energy, and effort into a business idea just because you’re currently working on it is an idiot. You can have enormously different results pursuing one idea over another. Your new idea might make you:
- Richer in the long run than your current project.
- Happier in the long run than your current project.
- More secure in the long run than your current project…
…as well as an endless list of other things you may value about any given business venture.
Discovering whether you should derail or stay on your current project and give it a proper go in my opinion looks a little something like this…
How To Know Whether to Pursue a New Business Idea
Do you stay and grow your current project, or jump ship and start working on the new one?
Step 1: Can You Afford to Switch?
First, ask yourself a few questions:
- How expensive might the new idea be to pursue? Will you be able to stomach this cost? If not, abandon ship.
- How much time will you have to invest before the new venture is on proper footing? Assume it will take you longer than it’s taken others who have done the same thing. Can you wait that long? Is the end result worth the wait? Again, if not, abandon ship, and go back to your old project.
Step 2: Would a Switch Be Worthwhile?
If the business idea passes the preliminary test, proceed to the next step: determining whether the new business idea is a better fit for you than your current idea. To do this, research and come up with the most accurate picture possible detailing..
- What your day-to-day life (daily tasks to keep afloat, estimated income, etc.) would be like during the process of taking the new venture from idea to reality.
- What your day-to-day life (daily tasks to keep afloat, estimated income, etc.) would be like when this new business finally got to its peak.
If you’d be much happier with the new company on both fronts, start the new project and don’t look back.
If you’d only be a little happier with the new company, decide if the difference is worth restarting from scratch.
If you’d be happier with the new company than with the old one in the long run, but not in the short, estimate how long it would take you to get to that point for both, and then try to determine if jumping ship would be worth it.
Finally, if you’d be unhappy with staying in the new company in the long run, but in the short run you’d be happier with the process, determine if it’d be worth switching to the new company, then selling once you got the business to the point where it’s reached its peak.
Salvage the Shipwreck: Benefits Reaped Even If You Don’t Switch
There’s something to be said for exploring new ideas, even if you don’t eventually pursue them.
Obviously, if you do think things through and don’t automatically start pursuing new ideas to the detriment of your old ones, thinking through and even planning the nitty-gritty details of potential new business ventures all the time keeps you open to opportunities that may in fact be a lot better for you than your current status quo.
Yet even if you can’t or don’t decide it’s ideal to jump ship completely on your present project, you may find it’s easier than you’d assume to salvage the shipwreck of a new idea.
How? By taking bits and pieces of your new idea to integrate back into your already existent project.
The jackpot? Finding there are ways of tweaking your current project with some of the salvaged ideas from your potential new venture to change your current project into something that works better for you.