Online business is always changing. There are always new techniques, systems, and emerging challenges you need to address to keep your business running properly. Everyday, hundreds of websites release countless numbers of articles bringing you exciting new strategies and business models to tackle these obstacles and keep your business fresh and on track. These suggestions can be great reads, but sometimes they make life too complicated with a plethora of options or they distract you from seeing your existing projects through.
I call these things “shiny coins” and the tendency of some business owners to drop whatever they’re doing to pursue them the “shiny coin syndrome.”
Staying on Target
Businesses can take a long time and a lot of work to become successful, which can be a serious problem if you have an Internet-based business like a membership site. It can be easy to get depressed and feel like everyone else is doing better than you while you’re spinning your wheels and never getting anywhere. Or worse, your business may not be doing well enough to support you and you might have some serious urgency to “turn things around.” It’s during these times that shiny coin syndrome is most likely to take hold.
As I am a programmer, I’ve been susceptible to this syndrome myself, but I’ve taken steps to try to stay out of that groove. I’ve seen many independent technologists and entrepreneurs fail in their businesses because they kept chasing the shiny coin without finishing what they’d already started. Sometimes, avoiding the shiny coin may involve sticking with a more tried and true methodology rather than the latest fad technology. It may also mean ignoring the advice of one of your favorite business gurus.
One of the techniques I use to stay on target is to simply keep a running list of new business ideas that pop into my head while I’m working. I write it down and come back to it later instead of interrupting whatever I’m working on. Once I’ve finished my tasks for the day, I come back to my list and really hash out the ideas in detail – I may even spend half a day on it. After spending a substantial amount of time fleshing things out with a clear head, I’ll usually be able to determine how much time, effort, and expense it will realistically take and decide whether or not to pursue it. There’s something about just getting it down on paper and out of my brain that really helps me to stay focused on the task at hand and keeps me from making rash decisions.
Sometimes You can Embrace the Shiny Coin
Sometimes it IS okay to “pivot” your business, completely change what you’re doing, or completely switch out your whole software system. Usually though, you should think very carefully before making such drastic changes. They can be very expensive and time consuming. Some reasons to make a big switch in your business could be if your system is running on obsolete technology and it’s costing you too much time or money to maintain it, or if your business model just isn’t working at all anymore. These are extreme but excellent reasons to consider making a grand change to the way your business operates. Consider whether the ROI (in terms of time, money, and effort) will be worth the hassle. Talk to your colleagues and clients and see what they have to say on the matter before giving in to the allure of the shiny coin.
There’s nothing worse than taking a wad of cash and three months to solve a problem that nobody else sees. Or worse yet, to put a bandaid on the problem that only lasts for a month or two.
Remember that there are a million and one ways to run a business, but that doesn’t mean that you need to try them all.