There’s a curse that constantly affects business owners and that’s the curse of bright shiny objects.

Bright shiny objects are often disguised as money making ideas, a new bit of kit that might transform our businesses or an exciting but ethereal lead. Now I’m not saying that we should dismiss ideas, new kit or potential leads but we need to ensure that they don’t distract us from our priorities. I see too many business owners pursuing endless ideas and never landing any so their businesses struggle to grow or even survive. I speak from experience, I’ve pursued more than the odd bright shiny object myself!

It’s natural for business owners to be thinking constantly about ways to develop the business. We have to be open to possibilities and change or our competitors will be likely to overtake us. However, chasing too many ideas leads to confusion and overwhelm. Not every idea will be worth pursuing.

Bright shiny objects disguised as great ideas

Too many ideas are the curse of the small business owner.

Will the idea work?

Most of these bright shiny objects quickly lose their sparkle so design a system that allows you to capture the ideas but to park them for a while, a notebook or a file on your computer perhaps. Re-visit the ideas in time that you have set aside for business development and see if they are still as attractive, if they are, schedule time for research and development.

Ideas need to be evaluated against a number of criteria, for example:

  • will it make money?
  • is it consistent with our brand and our business plan?
  • will our ideal customer want it?
  • what impact will it have on other aspects of the business?
  • do we have the resources to make it happen at this time?

Consider how the bright shiny object fits with your current business and your position in the market place. Will it help differentiate you from your competitors? Will it give you additional business from your current customers? Could it replace a tired and outdated product or service?

The importance of focus

Many hugely successful business owners will attribute at least a part of their success to their ability to focus. It’s a skill we all need to learn if we are to achieve our full potential. Pursuing too many bright shiny objects will lead us to lose focus.

That’s why it’s important to limit the time you spend on evaluation and then focus on the one idea that has the most potential for success. Allocate specific time to developing that idea whilst still allowing quality time for your current business. I find the Power Hour really helpful, for me that’s the first hour of my working day before I get distracted by emails, clients and the to do list. I set a timer, grab a cup of coffee and focus on the one task I want to achieve that day. At the end of the hour I make a note of the next steps and put the task away for tomorrow. It’s amazing how much I can get done when I really discipline myself to focus!

How do you manage to focus on those activities that will have the most impact on your business? I’d love to hear your tips.

This article is based on a section of my forthcoming book, Founded after 40: How to start a business when you haven’t got time to waste. It’s a practical guide to starting a business complete with case studies and a workbook that turns into a business plan. If you’d like to know more, get further insights and receive an invitation to the launch party please join my book mailing list below.

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