"I have a great idea for a new business or product!"

It's a statement that I hear almost every day, and for the majority of business owners, it isn't necessarily a good thing. 

Let me explain. 

I coach business owners who have been in business for several years. They have a product or service that has proven itself and has shown the capacity for tremendous growth. So when someone comes to me, with an already successful business, excited about a new product line or service, I can't help but approach the conversation a little guarded. 

Entrepreneurs are particularly susceptible to a condition called Shiny Object Syndrome.

Shiny Object Syndrome: A Definition

Shiny Object Syndrome is a condition that inflicts millions of business owners each year. Instead of focusing on the big picture tasks that fuel growth for their business, they get side-tracked by a new business idea or project that feels new and exciting. What is sexier: a new product launch or a customer retention campaign? A new product launch wins everytime. 

At a recent workshop, we polled our attendees and nine out of ten business owners said that they have struggled with Shiny Object Syndrome at least once in their own business journey.

A Cure

Now, not every new project is a bad idea. In fact, a new product or service may be just what your business needs to take things to the next level. The key is being able to determine what is a good idea and what is just a shiny object meant to distract you from your goals. 

When you are overworked and stressed, you are more prone to get distracted by something new. So, keep Shiny Object Syndrome at bay by focusing on what truly matters in your business. Choose one day a week where you block three to four hours out of your day to focus on the 1 percent that produces 50 percent of your results. Turn your cell phone off, shut down your email client, and work on the A-level tasks and projects that really matter. Avoid distractions and other shiny objects. 

Professional athletes don't step out onto the field without a group of coaches and teammates behind them helping them to succeed. If you want to keep your eye on the ball and avoid distractions, enlist the help of a business coach or mastermind group. They will not only help you determine the best use of your time, but they will help you flush out new ideas to pinpoint what has potential and what is just a distraction. 

You are most susceptible to Shiny Object Syndrome when you are faced with a task or challenge that seems difficult or time consuming. It's much easier to push your to-do list aside and work on something more exciting and rewarding. So, I suggest that you create a one-page quarterly action plan that breaks things down into manageable task list. 

The key is to pick one to three focus areas each quarter, and then invest a portion of your best resources, because you know that these are the areas that will really help you scale and develop your business. And then as you move towards the goal, you get the thrill of checking things off your to-do list and staying on task. 

Shiny Object Syndrome is a difficult thing to beat. But if you follow the three steps, you should be able to stay on task and focus on growing your business the right way. 

Published on: Jan 16, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.