If you’re a new business owner, you’ve probably gotten Shiny Object Syndrome – or SOS – whether or not you even realize it.
Everyone goes through it and it can give you analysis paralysis and stunt the growth of your business.
We want to avoid it as much as we can.
I’m going to dig into what SOS really is, and how you can avoid it as a small business owner.
Hi, I’m Mei Pak and I help makers, artists, and designers make a living selling their handmade products online.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Your business is moving along, but you just don’t feel quite satisfied.
So, you decide to jump into a new, more exciting, project before you finish your current one.
Or maybe you have a great idea for a new business!
The only problem is that you already have a business – so how can you just start a new one without neglecting the current one?
According to a study by Inc. Magazine, 9/10 business owners have admitted to falling into the SOS trap.
Honestly, it’s easy to see why.
Most of us entrepreneurs have a fantastic quality in common – we love to create, to move, to generate new ideas and opportunities.
While this part of us is what makes us good at what we do, it can also hurt us.
That’s why it’s so important to know how to recognize SOS and when to keep it at bay.
Shiny Object Syndrome
What exactly is shiny object syndrome?
It happens when we become distracted by something that seems exciting, fresh, and trendy – and we chase after it, ultimately neglecting important work that should be a priority.
It’s the same syndrome that drives a child to chase after a shiny new toy – just to shove it to the side when they see a shinier object they could be playing with on the other side of the room.
The business owner equivalent might be making a new product, marketing strategy, or even an idea for a whole new business that you ultimately don’t have the capacity for.
SOS doesn’t always have to be a bad thing – after all, it’s good to stay on top of the market – but it can get bad fast.
And when it does, it can lead to an inability to finish projects, poor organization and planning, falling behind, and worst of all, wasting money and time.
In short, SOS could seriously hurt, or even kill, your business.
If you’ve ever felt that hamster wheel feeling, like you’re never really getting anywhere…
It’s probably because you’ve had SOS.
But don’t worry!
Once you learn how to recognize SOS for what it is, you can learn to steer clear from it altogether, and keep your business right on track.
It takes some practice, but with the right tools, you can become a master at ignoring even the shiniest distractions.
You probably saw this coming, but social media is one of the shiniest objects of all.
Social media marketing is necessary for any business, but we spend way too much time tinkering with all the new features.
Here’s the thing: new trends are usually never the next best thing.
They’re called “trends” for a reason, because they tend to disappear just as fast as they popped up.
That’s why I’m rarely an early adopter of new features on social media.
I know that social media alone is not going to make or break my business – or help it go from slow sales to a full-time paycheck.
So, instead of wasting precious time on all the new social media bells and whistles, I like to focus on doing the bare minimum.
A thoughtfully written post that leads to a great landing page is a tried-and-true tactic that I know works.
Why waste time on a risk just because it’s trending?
Stick to what you know works, so you can spend that valuable time working on the rest of your business or on more effective ways to get sales.
It’s not just social media that can be a huge and dangerous distraction.
It’s also social media in general!
We get sucked into our competitor’s Facebook pages and Instagram posts, and get totally lost in comparisonitis!
Stay. Away. From. Comparisonitis.
As tempting as it is to see what your competition is doing, I guarantee that the time you’re spending scrolling through their page, they’re spending making their business better.
So stay focused on yours!
Instead of spending time on your competitor’s page, focus a consistent effort in one or two marketing initiatives.
I recommend daily media outreach, email marketing, and paid ads if you have the budget.
Keep it simple, focus on what matters, and do not get lost in the zombie scroll.
On a similar note, vanity metrics can be a huge killer to online business owners.
While we might want to base our business’s worth on how many followers we have, our reach and engagement have no correlation with sales.
At the end of the day, sales and profit are the most important numbers.
Not “likes,” comments, or followers.
Now I know, followers can indicate how far your business is reaching – but if you really think about it, they’re pretty weak indicators because they point you in the wrong direction.
What if TikTok or IG reels help you to get a ton of reach?
Sure, it’s great that more people have seen your product.
But if you have no way to convert that reach into traffic to your shop, and convert that traffic into sales, then reach by itself is meaningless.
You don’t want to chase metrics just because they LOOK good if they have no impact on your bottom line.
Instead, focus on making sure your website is user friendly so you can actually reel in those sales.
Another SOS distraction I see way too often is following too many gurus.
Now, coaches are important – and having that guidance can make a huge difference.
I would not be where I am today without having invested in a few coaches along the way.
But if you’re following a handful of different gurus, then you’ll wind up with a confusing, inconsistent mixture of ideas and philosophy to follow.
Everyone is going to have a different philosophy.
You’ll be pulled into way too many directions until you become overwhelmed and lose focus.
I’m not saying other gurus are all wrong and I’m right, because there are many ways to build a successful business!
But when you invest in just one great coach, you can focus on the work that coach prescribes you, instead of getting lost in a large and tangled mixture of ideas and choices.
The work you do with your coach needs to be consistent, deep, and focused – otherwise, you won’t get anywhere.
You don’t want to spread yourself thin, that’s never a recipe for success.
On that note, you might find that friends like to give well-meaning, but unsolicited, advice.
You don’t have to take every piece of advice you get – trust your own gut and follow the feedback that is best aligned with your business and brand.
Finally, falling for sales and special offers can be a huge hindrance to any business owner.
I know how tempting it is to have the latest and greatest crafting equipment and supplies – and I know it’s important to stay on top of the game!
However, if you’re consistently breaking the bank to buy the latest products, then you might lose money buying things that you really don’t need or had plans for to begin with.
Or you might find a deal on some software that seems like a steal, but makes you rethink all the other software you’ve been using and took the time to build and get familiar with.
That just gets messy.
Don’t let sales phase you – trust that you know your business best and don’t be tempted to fix what isn’t broken.
I know that a lot of us can suffer from pretty bad FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out.
We can’t help it!
When we see a competitor with the latest equipment we can’t really afford, or notice that other businesses have more followers than we do.
We can easily fall into a pit of jealousy and resentment.
Just know that these feelings really don’t help anyone.
Next time you notice yourself getting a bad case of FOMO, try to channel that energy into diving into your existing projects.
Sometimes all you need is a boost of confidence – and you can get that by simply getting through your to-do list and staying on top of your priorities.
If you ignore your to-do list and waste a few hours on vanity metrics, you’ll end up behind and feeling even worse.
We all fall into SOS at some point or another – but when we know what to look out for, we can do a pretty good job avoiding it altogether.
Next time you find yourself getting distracted, I want you to head back to your priority list and start checking things off.
Over time you’ll learn how to create a lifestyle and environment for yourself that removes all distractions and SOS so you’re focused on doing the good work.
You’ll get the most satisfaction from staying focused and helping your business grow.
Rather than chasing after new opportunities that are ultimately wasting time and money.
Have you ever gotten SOS?
Tell me about it in the comments below!
And don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel for more great handmade business tips and tricks.