Shiny Object Syndrome

Shiny Object Syndrome

It’s tempting to think that Shiny Object Syndrome is a new condition associated with unidentified airborne objects currently being shot down on a regular basis in North American airspace. Or perhaps it’s not new and has been commonly associated with starlings who really, really, like shiny objects and spend time collecting said shiny things.

[Author’s note: I was once the victim of a starling who went after my hair clip one sunny day in Canada while riding my bike. My own personal version of Hitchcock’s The Birds.]

But I digress…

It’s actually a phenomenon that happens to even experienced entrepreneurs and can be one of the biggest problems for business owners today.

So what is Shiny Object Syndrome?

One thing it is not is entrepreneurs being irresistibly drawn to shiny, metallic things for a personal collection of sorts.

Broadly speaking it’s when entrepreneurs get distracted by new and exciting opportunities or new technology, all bundled up with a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) and getting left behind while some competitor snaps it up.

If someone else is using this new thing and finding success, it’s an urge to try it with their own business too.

The problem with this is that it affects the business focus and may draw entrepreneurs into a state of ‘have-to-have-it’ at whatever cost despite the potential.

What are some of the shiniest objects around today for business owners?

They can be new business ideas, joint ventures, marketing strategies, or target clients. Buzzword technology like automation, AI, blockchains, new social media platforms, and even robotics depending on your industry.

It’s tempting to want to jump onto the hottest new thing, but it can come at the expense of losing focus on your current business plan and what is working for you now.

Why is Shiny Object Syndrome a bad thing?

New businesses need focus, persistence and effort. When a chosen course of action isn’t given enough time to yield results, it never really had a chance to prove if it worked for the business or not.

Instead of being consistent in your thinking and business practices, it leads to spreading your focus thinly over too many things, which means almost nothing gets the full attention it deserves.

Jumping onto trends can give business owners that short-lived high that they are ahead of the pack. But it never lasts long and then they are onto the next quick fix that might save their floundering business. Slow-moving growth can be a precursor to developing SOS as the appeal is high to find your revenue saviour.

In contrast, some entrepreneurs fear rapid success and according to, it can become a form of self-sabotage.

When the entrepreneur tries to use too many strategies, too many niched-down client profiles, and marketing channels it can become confusing to your audience. Confusion rarely results in sales.

It can also result in burning through cash and confusing staff which we can all agree is not ideal for profits or your business culture.

SOS! What to do if this sounds like you

You can enjoy keeping up with news of all the latest ‘things’ that might apply to your business sector. But before abandoning your current strategies and existing investments you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is this something my target client audience wants and will pay for?
  • Do I have the time necessary to invest in getting this new object up and running and where is the time being taken from?
  • Are there existing projects not yet completed that I should finish before taking on something new?

Ideally, you need to sit on the idea before jumping in with both feet. More than the token ‘sleep on it’.

Where is this shiny object in its trajectory? It’s often the early adopters that gain the most out of said shiny object before it goes mass market and becomes par for the course. This can create the urgency entrepreneurs feel to get their foot in the door early. But it doesn’t mean that it will benefit everyone in the same way or with the same timeline and speed.

Know your strategy and stay with it. Keep your focus on your short and long-term goals steadfastly. Avoid being a high consumer of media and newsletters and business-related social media for periods of time so you can breathe and not remain in a constant state of looking for the next big thing. Use that period to focus wholly on your current strategy and see it through.

It’s a balancing act to figure out the truly brilliant opportunities from the time, resources, and energy wasters out there.

May I also further recommend to those of you who style your hair with accessories – adopt unreflective options. Don’t say you weren’t warned!