We’ve all been there, you start your small business and you do lots of learning along the way. You find things that are useful to your business and lots more ‘stuff’ that cloggs up your brain and inbox. I wanted to write this to help you get away from shiny object syndrome as a small business. Clients often say to me ‘I read that you should do this’ or ‘Someone I know has moved to this system…should I?’ and they start comparing their journey with someone else’s. Shiny object syndrome is real and easy to fall into when you are a small business so I’ve put together some ways to stay in your own lane.
To be driven toward shiny objects. Usually related to projects, in the sense that you won’t finish one project before starting a new one.Urban Dictionary
1. Changing Systems
So this is a biggie in the world of small business – we often take the advice of others or see a new system being used. Instantly we think life would be better if we too could just implement that system and our sales would sky rocket. Don’t get me wrong, they very well could but don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. Just because they’ve moved their email system to a different provider doesn’t mean yours doesn’t do the same thing or isn’t already good enough.
You can waste a lot of money on a system that you aren’t ready for yet and there are lots of free alternatives until you can cover that cost. For instance you could be using free email software and your list is 500 people strong. You have a business buddy who has moved to an all singing and dancing system that they don’t stop raving about. They may have changed as they have hit the threshold of people on their list or that they need to do more with their list. When we compare the two – yours could be doing exactly what it needs to do for your business right now. You can upgrade or change when the time is right for you…not because someone else has. Don’t give your business unnecessary overheads that don’t pay for themselves. If you can justify the cost (and recoup it easily each month), you will use all the new features from the get go…then go for it. Otherwise wait until you business has caught up with the need for it.
2. Keeping on top of Changes
The world of social media moves at a rapid pace and changes are happening all the time. Clients often say ‘Oh I’ve heard that if you don’t post using a scheduling tool you get more traction’ or ‘The best times to post are at 8am and 4pm’. But this isn’t always the case, yes algorithms do change regularly to keep up with us. As long as you make sure that you are being consistent and focused on your ideal clients then you shouldn’t see a problem. It’s all about building a community and nurturing your crowd so if you are doing that then people will find you.
This goes the same for new platforms that arrive – you don’t need to be doing it all. So relax into it, if the new platform aligns with your message, your potential clients are there and you have time…then go for it. Otherwise don’t just jump aboard because you feel you should as it will overwhelm you.
3. Courses / Mentors / Memberships
This is another thing most of us have done, jumped on board some training or other. The trainer promised all sorts of things to us and how they can help us make a million. Except when you do the training it’s all set up for a bigger business than yours and the level is wrong for where you are currently at.
By all means do some training but don’t get bogged down with other peoples promises of what you’ll get out of it. Also remember that you get out what you put in, simply buying the course or membership doesn’t make you an instant success – that bit takes time and dedication.
It’s imperative that you find the right membership / mentor or course for you and where your business is. It takes some time to figure out where you want to go (spoiler…it may not be where someone else is) and what success means to you. Do your research and find a good fit before you part with any cash.
4. All Singing and Dancing Websites
A flashy website is lovely and we all want one but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you haven’t to have one. Some people pay lots of money too early on to get the all singing and dancing website. It’s fab and worth investing in a decent website provider but it isn’t essential when you start out. Sometimes a big flashy website is overwhelming if you are only dealing with other small businesses. They often take an age to load too which can put people off.
As long as you have all the information a potential client needs to make a decision then you are good to go. It takes on average around 8 seconds for us to make a decision and if your website is still loading in that time then you could potentially miss out on a sale. Remember you need to make it as easy as possible for people to purchase from you.
It’s important that people find you in the first place so making sure your SEO is in tip top condition will help just as much. Otherwise you can have a spangly website but no one visiting as they don’t know you are there. Keywords and blog posts are just as valuable to getting your message out there. Oh and also directing people to your website…
5. 5k Months and ‘I only work 5 hours a month’
Now this one has got me trapped a few times…wondering how all these people are hitting 5k months when they’ve just started out. Or worse, the “I only do about 5 hours a month of work and I’ve got all this passive income rolling in”. Now shame on me as I should really know better. I’ve definitely not stayed in my own lane on this one and found myself down a rabbit hole in the internet trying to find out how they do it. It can be done and good luck to those who do it easily but the rest of us it takes a little time and effort to reach those figures. When you start out you need to make sure you are covering your costs and also making a profit that can sustain you. Otherwise you’ve just got a really expensive hobby.
More often than not, the simply truth of this one is that yes they might not work more than five hours in their business but someone does. As a virtual assistant offering small businesses help, I often hear people say ‘Look at what I’ve created’ and then I’ve realised that it was actually me who created it for them. Which is great for both of us because that’s my job but if you are looking from the outside it’s easy to beat yourself up about not hitting those dizzying heights. Also the times that they think they aren’t working or what they don’t class as work…you might. So all the Instagram engagement and Facebook lives telling you how they aren’t working…well it is them working the room. They are working and to a time strapped parent with kids doing laps around their ankles this would evoke a breakdown if you tried to take time out to tell people you are taking time out! This is also true of people who ‘don’t work much’ but then you see them on holiday…well working!
To get to 7k months and the like, the business owner is getting a lot of support in one way or another. This could be childcare, a virtual assistant, expensive tech that automates things or they are working when they don’t think they are! It rarely comes without cost and a team of support. Plus don’t even get me started on the figures, is the £7k months profit or turnover…very different things and make a huge difference.
Shiny Object Syndrome
So by all means have goals for your business but don’t leap from one idea to the next. One new way of working to replace an already (working for you) solution. It can be daunting to think that you need to do it all and be it all. You may also forget from time to time that what you see online is someone else’s highlight reel and we don’t often get the nitty gritty behind the scenes.
So always do your research on a system or procedure and make sure it fits within your business. If you need any support finding solutions then please drop me an email. I work with lots of different entrepreneurs at different stages and can often recommend what might work for your business as it is.