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How to Overcome Entrepreneur “Shiny Object Syndrome” In 4 Simple Steps

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Entrepreneur Ideas

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice tells the Queen, “One can’t believe impossible things” and the Queen confidently replies, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice. When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Without a doubt, the Queen must be an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are like idea machines. Churning out ideas like candy coming from the Willy Wonka factory. We are creators. Innovators. But there’s a problem that most entrepreneurs face somewhere down the line—having too many ideas.

At first, it seems like having a constant influx of great ideas isn’t a terrible thing, but when you have tons of new ideas flooding into your brain day after day, you can run into two problems:

1. You become stalled. You never take action on any of your ideas because you don’t know how to get started or even what to start.

2. You get easily side-tracked. You’re always chasing the white rabbit. You start project after project and you’re always onto the next thing before you’ve even completed the first.

The latter is what I like to call “Entrepreneur Shiny Object Syndrome”—always chasing that next “shiny” idea. Many of the entrepreneurs that I know (including myself) suffer from this “disorder”. If you’re one of these people, sometimes having only 6 impossible ideas would feel like a relief.

The issue with having Shiny Object Syndrome is that you run the risk of not using your time wisely and not being able to operate your business efficiently. Since your time and energy is money (especially if you’re a solopreneur who’s in charge of everything), your business’s bottom line will undoubtedly suffer if you can’t stay focused.

As a business owner, you need to get really good, really fast, at effectively filtering through your fishing net of ideas and only selecting the right ones to work on.

Below is a helpful 4-step process that you can use to get a handle on this “disorder” and continue to stay on track and focused every time a new idea arises…

 

Step 1: Create a running list of all your ideas

Write down every business/marketing/blogging/etc idea that you have throughout the day by keeping a running list in a journal or on your Smartphone. When something new pops into your head, jot it down and then immediately go back to whatever you were doing.

Keep in mind that just because this certain idea magically occurred to you in the moment does not mean that…

1. It is top priority
2. It needs your full attention
3. It needs to be implemented straight away

When you write everything down, you can come back and build on an idea later without worrying about forgetting it. Try scheduling 30 minutes a day for “idea time” to think through some of your recent ideas. This way, you won’t get distracted from your current tasks, but you’ll still give the necessary attention to your innovative thoughts.

 

Step 2: Pause before you start anything

This is a lesson that I find myself having to learn over and over again. When you have a new idea, take a pause. Don’t execute it right away. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small idea like “I should send a Twitter message to so-and-so” or a big idea like “I need to do a complete overhaul on my business website”—both ideas can wait.

Decide on a specific delay time between your idea conception and execution. For example, every time a “big idea” for my business occurs to me, I let it sit and think about it for 7 days before giving myself permission to consider implementing it. If in 1 week, I’m still excited about the idea and certain that it will help my business, I will make a plan to execute it. If not, then the idea falls onto the backburner and I don’t have to worry about it.

Find delay times that work best for you and do your best to stick with them.

 

Step 3: View your new ideas through the lens of your long-term goal(s)

After you’ve written all your ideas down and given them a little space, it’s time to figure out if a specific idea is worth implementing.

To do this, you have to look at your new ideas through the lens of your long-term goals. With every idea, ask yourself the question: “Does this idea take me closer to reaching my ultimate business goals?” If it does, go for it. If it doesn’t, let it sit on your idea list a little longer.

Some ideas might need to stay on your business’s backburner until you get more important things accomplished. In the meantime, if something does seem urgent (maybe you really really hate your website design), try outsourcing the task and continue to spend your time working towards your ultimate goals.

 

Step 4: Don’t make crucial business decisions every day

If you attempt to make important decisions about the long-term objectives of your business on a daily basis, you run the risk of falling off track every time you have a new killer idea (or something bad happens like a revenue dip or you receive negative feedback). Instead of making these important decisions on the fly, have a 6-month or yearly plan that spells out the direction that you want to take your business.

Think about it this way—say, for instance, you want to drive away from Los Angeles and be on the road for 2 days. Well, you have two options:

1. You could choose which way to turn each time you encountered a stop light, on-ramp or fork in the road
2. You could choose your destination to be New York City in advance which would influence every directional decision you make along the way

With the first option, you could end up anywhere in the country, or even back where you started. When you make business decisions based on the specific circumstances that you face each day—this is unlikely to lead you to your final (desired) destination. With the second option, you will arrive at your destination in 1 day and 16 hours and find yourself exactly where you want to be.

Writing out the overall plans and ultimate goals for your business will help you stay steadfast and focused in the long-term.

In the end, in order to overcome Entrepreneur Shiny Object Syndrome, you should always be filtering your ideas through these 4 steps to keep yourself and your business moving towards your ultimate goals and on target for success.

Laurel Staples runs a popular blog & podcast called Go Fire Yourself that gives you the insider secrets to successfully escape your day job, grow your own business and live life on your terms. Connect with Laurel and download her free ebook: Income Switch: How to Replace Your 9-to-5 Income by Building a Profitable (& Unstoppable) Online Platform by visiting her website: www.gofireyourself.com

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Wendie Kause

    Nov 23, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Great article, great steps that I will apply, starting right now. But do you know what I like most about it? Knowing that this syndrome is not mine alone. It’s as if there’s a little gremlin in my brain, clicking on all these ideas all the time. I thought perhaps I was alone with these little guys! It’s good to know there are others!

    Thanks much!

  2. Pat Royston

    Jan 1, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Such good information. You pegged me!

  3. Michael Levanduski

    Feb 22, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Excellent post. This is a very big problem for anyone working online! These are great tips for everyone, especially those just starting out.

  4. Janine Gilmour (@JanineGilmour1)

    Jan 11, 2014 at 12:08 am

    I’m thinking “all that glitters isn’t gold” … and knowing I gravitate to my own shiny objects when I’m doing something difficult. Nice to know I’m in good company. Better still to working with a process that staves off starting 50 things and not finishing many. Thanks for the perspective on how to see my big goals over the finish line. Thanks!

  5. Curt

    Jan 6, 2014 at 3:47 am

    I am so glad you wrote this article, Laurel. My friends have described me as a serial entrepreneur…I thought they were just being nice. I seem to come up with a new idea with each breath I take. I own several successful small businesses. I am blessed with good employees to run each business. I have list upon list of additional projects that I am working on that are not related to my businesses: titles of nearly thirty books to be written, a producer has ask me to develop two of my ideas for TV programs, my multiple real estate projects that are in various states of completion and valued from $240K to $29M, and a list of twenty-two additional ideas that I would love to develop. To say the least, I am spread thin. The best thing I have done recently is to start working with a business coach that helped me to focus. I now write thoughts on my list and revisit the list every 30 days. Since starting this, I have not started one new project…and I have been able to finish, or make subtancial headway, on several of my pending high-priority projects. I don’t know if everyone will have the same success, but for me, I now prioritize, focus and accomplish. Without my business coach helping me to understand how I think/work, I would still feel like I had severe ADHD. I sincerely appreciate reading that others face these same hyperactive idea issues, and appreciate your efforts to assist us. Your writings are spot-on!

  6. Goodtogo

    Dec 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I’m cleared, thanks Laurel.

  7. Diana Schneidman

    Nov 29, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Laurel,

    I heartily endorse Step 1, maintaining a running list.

    I keep a list in Word every time I come across another idea for marketing my business. Sometimes I simply list a website to revisit; other times it’s a big concept.

    Once I have captured an idea, I free myself up to go on to the day’s work, comforted that the new, shiny idea won’t be lost.

    I rarely look at the list, but I know where to find all my ideas when I want them.

    -Diana

  8. Micah

    Nov 28, 2013 at 2:55 am

    Great article. I love the idea of a running list. I often have to remind myself to focus on what I need to focus on right then… And spend time researching all of my “great” ideas later.

  9. Laurel Staples

    Nov 28, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Thanks! So glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Ahmed Muse

    Nov 28, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Very useful tips here. Thanks!

  11. Margaux Dela Cruz (@Margaux_Dela)

    Nov 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

    These are practical suggestions to help entrepreneurs stay focused on the more important things. True, once ideas come running in, there’s no way to stop entrepreneurs. But another thing I learned to help me focused on the priorities is segmenting. It would help if entrepreneurs learn to visualize their business on a map. By adding data by category, they can analyze each category individually and identify which is the most important. Then, they can analyze the connections between each data set – another simple and practical way to ignite more ideas but this time, in a more systematic way.

    • Laurel Staples

      Nov 28, 2013 at 2:26 am

      Thanks for your awesome tip! That’s a really great way to stay focused on your objectives. I’ve known many entrepreneurs who do that it say it works wonders.

  12. Abe Stone

    Nov 25, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Excellent… It really helps to acknowledge the issues and then create an understanding of how to fix it… So many times we don’t want to admit that some of our ways of living are problems and they never go away.. I think coaching helps in this too.
    Having someone who can objectively help you question the ideas and ask new questions you may not be thinking of…

    • Laurel Staples

      Nov 28, 2013 at 2:23 am

      Great points Abe! I think in business, we get too close to our own situation and it’s hard to see things from an objective point of view. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Jodi Barthold

    Nov 25, 2013 at 5:46 am

    Great article – I’m going to memorize these and use them.

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Success Advice

3 Areas You Should Focus on to Become a Great Leader

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how to be a great leader
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Having listened to all of our stakeholders and being fully aware of the situation, spring is a good time to conduct a quarterly review to see exactly where we are in order. This helps us have a clear starting point to re-adjust our goals for the coming year.

One of the main problems tends to be that we look back at the things we haven’t done and where we didn’t get the results we intended. Because of this, we get ourselves in a state of anxiety which is hardly a resourceful state for setting positive goals.

A better approach is to be nice to ourselves. Have a look back over the last three months and check all the things you have achieved. Give yourself a treat for all of the things you planned to achieve and did. They may be something as simple as maintaining a to-do list or smiling more.

Afterwards, think of all the things you achieved which weren’t planned and congratulate yourself on your flexibility and creativity; for the person with the greatest flexibility of behaviour controls the outcomes.

For those results that weren’t as you intended, remind yourself that we all make the correct choice at the time we make it. We don’t deliberately make the wrong choices and whatever the outcome, there’s always a positive intention. There’s no failure, only feedback, and we learn more from our failures than we do our successes.

“Be good to yourself. Listen to your body, to your heart. We’re very hard on ourselves, and we’re always feeling like we’re not doing enough. It’s a terribly hard job.” – Marcia Wallace

Look to yourself

It is vital, especially for sole proprietors or owner/managers, to manage themselves in order to be fit, healthy, and relatively happy. Evidence points to a clear relationship between our moods and assorted aspects of job performance such as decision-making, creativity, teamwork, negotiation and leadership.

While success may put us in a good mood, an organisation that sees the glass as half full rather than half empty, stands a better chance in these difficult times.

Depressed individuals will always see the glass as half-empty and even rapidly emptying. This attitude saps energy and leaves those affected feeling worthless, helpless, and hopeless. In its worst case, depression can impair the ability to communicate and it’s not hard to see the organisational parallels.

Below are three elements within all of us that need to be taken care of:

1. Your mind

The key to a healthy mind is variety, so take an interest in other people, things, events and current affairs. Adopting an open and curious mindset allows us to see future possibilities and hence be more empowered.

2. Your body

A healthy body requires a solid routine. Ensure you eat and drink healthy products (especially water) and get plenty of rest and exercise. Knowing our own limitations and taking action to stay within them ensures we operate at our best.

3. Your spirit

Much has been written about feeding or maintaining the spirit but I believe there is one simple rule. Believe in something that is true to you and spend time each day with your true beliefs. Solitude is the nurse of enthusiasm and is as needful to the imagination as friends are to our character.

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton

Beyond individual performance, there are broader issues at stake. None of us are islands, happy in our own little depressed world. Moods, good or bad, are infectious and some people or positions can have a greater ripple effect than others. If a shy apprentice has a gloomy outlook, few may notice. But if people like the owner/manager are wandering around looking like the end of the world is coming, that can directly affect team spirit.

Water bearer or well poisoner

So what can the organisation do? Firstly, as individuals, we must show a positive and upbeat demeanor. That’s not easy and faking it will easily be spotted as the deception will be transparent. This isn’t unauthentic, but merely an attempt to empower ourselves.

Congruent leadership offers the means to put into words what it is you are experiencing with the person in order so your behaviour is consistent with your own values and beliefs such that you always appear to be what you desire to be.

Your mood as a leader then is highly contagious. Even though leaders or opinion formers aren’t always in leadership positions, they’re at the centre of informal networks. They have charisma and magnetism, possess strong opinions, and express them forcefully. Therefore, they have considerable social power and can have a direct effect on morale by being a water bearer or well poisoner. Which are you today?

What resonated most with you about this article and leadership? Share your thoughts below!

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The 6 Step Process for Delivering Critical Feedback in a Constructive Way

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We have all been in the position where we knew we needed to have a difficult conversation at work that involved delivering constructive feedback. Maybe a major deadline was missed, there was a clear decline in performance, or someone blatantly dropped the ball. Most of us avoid delivering the feedback, and the conversation can get pushed back again and again, wasting valuable time and money.

Delivering constructive feedback is challenging, and uncomfortable for most people, even highly trained leaders. Yet, delivering and accepting feedback is one of the most important keys for success. So why do we avoid these conversations? Because we never learned how to have them.

Open, honest, direct communication is not a skill we are taught in school. There is no “How to Have Tough Conversations” 101. As a clinical psychologist that specializes in couples work, I see just how important communication is in maintaining thriving relationships. I understand that good communication is the foundation of every successful relationship; both intimate relationships and your work relationships.

Below is a 6-step guide to providing constructive feedback:

Step 1: Clarity on the Goal of the Conversation  

The first step is to get clear on the goal of the feedback conversation. Are you planning to see a change in performance, simply communicate how you felt, or receive an apology? Get clear on what you are hoping to get out of the conversation. Be honest with yourself about what you need, what is most helpful to the relationship, and what is most helpful to the organization. Getting clear on the goal also ensures you are speaking with the right person.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

Step 2: Invitation

Set up a time to talk. Feedback conversations are not meant to be had in the hallway. It is important that both parties can set aside adequate time and have the space needed for dialogue. Additionally, there must be respect for both parties’ need for time to process information. For example, if you are delivering feedback, and the receiver needs time to process the feedback before responding, setting up a subsequent meeting will be most helpful.

Step 3: Ownership

Own the role you played in creating the situation. When you model ownership of blind spots, failures, or missteps, you set the stage for the receiver to do the same. For example, you may acknowledge that you were not aware of how to support your employee and not aware of the problem until x situation occurred. Equally important as owning your role, is owning your emotions. Own your emotions using “I” statements. For example, “I felt disappointed when I realized your sales performance had substantially declined”.

Step 4: Open, Honest, Direct Feedback

Feedback that dances around the problem does not do anyone any good. It only increases anxiety on behalf of the receiver, and potentially causes the feedback to get totally lost. The conversation needs to be open, honest, and direct. For example: “I felt concerned when you did not attend the last two strategy calls this month…It brought up questions for me about your commitment to the company.”

Step 5: Listen, Validate and Accept

When providing feedback, it is important both parties maintain an open mind, and respond in a way that communicates validation and acceptance. As soon as an individual gets defensive, feedback cannot be taken in, and the value of the conversation dramatically decreases. When providing feedback it is important to listen, validate, and accept your receiver’s viewpoint. Notice, I did not say agree. This looks something like saying: “I can see why X led you to commit Y , I understand you were under a great deal of stress/dealing with a personal situation/frustrated.”

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

Step 6: A Clear Plan for Moving Forward

In providing feedback, the magic is that now things can change! If feedback is never given, relationships end, things will stay the same, businesses will die, and money will be lost. If you have gotten to this step, that means you did the hard work, and now you get to put change into action. A clear plan includes an acknowledgement from both parties regarding what they will do differently to prevent the situation from occurring again, and how they will stay accountable in making the change happen.

The good news about delivering feedback is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. Remember, giving and receiving feedback is one of the most surefire ways to open yourself up to massive growth.

As a giver of feedback, it is your job to model openness and a desire for growth, so that the receiver may take in the feedback and make the necessary changes. Exceling at feedback delivery will help you set you apart from others and enable you to achieve extraordinary relationships, in both your personal and work lives.

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Success Advice

Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Podcast, Youtube Channel or Online Show

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Confidence comes from a place of strong understanding of self. After close to three years on radio, I’ve grown from a shy introvert to a shy introvert with an extrovert persona. When the mic is turned on, I can channel a version of myself that some say is attractive, strong, and of course, confident but it wasn’t always this way.

What I want to share with you is what I discovered on this journey into broadcast that you can apply to your life, your ventures, and your personal development. This doesn’t require any fancy gear. It does require a leap of faith on your part because once you go down the road of media; it can change your life.

1. Perceived Expertise

When you go to a doctor, you expect their knowledge will guide them to a solution to your problems. When you have a show, you become your listeners’ doctor. For all the multiple thousands, maybe millions, of YouTube channels, podcasts, and user-created content in the world, each person that gets behind a mic takes a position on their passion, their opinions, and their themes.

They challenge the status quo for the benefit of their listeners in hopes to entertain and educate. With consistency on your side, those fans place you on a platform and give you permission to influence them.

2. Global Acknowledgement

One of the benefits to increasing confidence is when you receive thank you notes from people you may never meet. The feeling of enriching someone’s life from halfway around the globe, provides validation you’re enhancing someone else’s life with your wisdom and your wit.

The very first time I was told I was making a difference in someone’s life in a country other than my own, I felt like I caused massive impact that transcends my circle of influence. When you experience just how much you can cause impact and it comes back to you, it’ll change your worldview.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Backed By Numbers

One of the most exciting ways to measure success is to quantify your growth. It’s not enough to just broadcast. Having subscribers and downloads helps to know, numerically, how well you’re doing. Word of caution. This can be a way to set yourself up for distress because of number envy but if you understand what the numbers mean; you can control the narrative of the numbers.

The major number that makes most people smile is 10,000. I’d advise it to be 1. Here’s why. As you grow in your industry, so does your reach. If you learned that the one person that subscribed totally changed for the better because of you, wouldn’t that be worth the effort?

4. Effective Communication

While it’s not talked about much, having a show is documentation. You create a dynamic account of your life, your industry, and the pulse on what’s important simply by having a show. When you find a channel to improve your communication skills, you demand attention and people will listen to you. You become more trusted as a leader and people will follow you once they believe you can lead them to their wants and needs.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

These insights have helped many people become leaders and, ultimately, move others to their best selves. It’s worked for me and I hope it works for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about showing up and showing out.

Have you ever thought about having a radio show? If so, what would you talk about? Let us below!

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Success Advice

5 Essential Skills to Drive Success in Every Niche

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There are many people who don’t have the courage to launch a business in a niche as they think they don’t have the right skills and experience to obtain success. While there are specific skills which determine the success in every niche, there are also some general skills which ensure success in any business you would try.

Below are 5 essential skills you need to drive success in every aspect of your life:

1. Ambition

When you launch a new business, you need to be prepared for difficult moments such as fighting the competition and winning your target audience. Moreover, if you follow some successful entrepreneurs, you should keep in mind that they also faced difficulties and continue to experience them. So, how does a successful entrepreneur get over all the difficulties?

The essential skill you need to possess is called ambition. Set small and clear milestones in your development plan and use your ambition to go over each difficulty and finalize what you had in your mind. It doesn’t matter how hard the path is going to be. Visualize your target and put in all the efforts to achieve it. Staying organized and scheduling each step to get things done are some of the techniques you can use to achieve success.

2. Listen to those around you

While listening to your instincts is necessary if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, this is not enough. As your business develops, you will have an entire team to manage and lead to success. Therefore, you cannot be a successful leader and have success in every niche unless you learn how to listen to the people around you.

You should listen to your employees and discover what they are expecting from you. This is the way to follow if you want to keep your team motivated and help them give the best of themselves.

On the other hand, you will need to listen to your customers to improve your products and services and provide excellent customer support. By listening carefully to the voice of your customers, you will be able to stand out of the competition and ensure their loyalty towards your brand.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos

3. Courage

When you decided to become an entrepreneur and build your own business, it means you are a courageous person. Courage will help you harness the power of creativity. Don’t be afraid to take risks if you feel a specific action will bring more success to your business.

Apart from doing intensive research on your ideas and developing the exact steps you are going to follow, you will need the courage to implement them. Not all the ideas will turn out to be successful.

Regardless, you will have something to learn from each success or mistake and this will help you move your business even further. When you have the courage to follow a path which is not very familiar to you, this is going to be the moment when you will widen your horizons and exceed your limits to achieve success.

4. Creativity and imagination

If you already implemented your idea and you see that it works, you most probably think that you don’t need to change anything to achieve more success. You need to keep in mind that customers’ preferences change and your competition is waiting for your mistakes to “steal” your clients.

Therefore, you need to use your creativity and imagination to improve your products and services to meet your customers’ expectations. What is more, creativity can also mean that you are open to talk to new people and use their experience to improve something in your business.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs

5. Continuous learning

If you want to drive success in every niche you will need to show a willingness to learn. You need to stay updated with what happens in your niche and what your customers expect from you.

Education is not only something for school. It is a lifelong process, and you should be open to seek knowledge and improve your skills with every opportunity. An efficient trick is to stay close to people who are already successful in your industry, ask their opinions on various subjects and learn from their experience.

The above five essential skills will help you build a successful business in every niche. A true leader is ambitious, knows to listen to the people around him, and is always open to learning from others.

No matter the size of your business, you will need to be creative and use your imagination to improve your products and services. These skills will help any leader develop new skills, stand out of the crowd, and strengthen his position on the market.

What skill do you think is most important to be successful in life? Let us know below!

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