I have some bad news. I don't have a magic formula to always keep you focused.
However, what I can share is my own struggles and small triumphs that have allowed me to stay focused long enough to build a very successful business.
I recently completed a survey where over 300 of you responded with your biggest obstacles to starting a profitable blog or website. One of the top reasons that people struggle is to a lack of focus, or shiny object syndrome.
Unfortunately, I'm not perfect either.
Even with a successful business, it's very difficult for me to focus on just one business venture at a time. However, I have been able to focus ENOUGH on my projects that they've taken off.
So, today I'm going to share some of my own ups and down with pursuing “shiny” objects…and hopefully some of the small lessons learned can help you as well.
You know the problem. You get REALLY excited about a new business venture or project. You get started with all your enthusiasm…and then something happens.
Maybe you get frustrated with technical challenges.
Maybe you read a blog post about ANOTHER great idea.
Whatever it is, you suddenly stop the “old” idea and move onto the new SHINY idea! This will be the one!
Unfortunately, it rarely is and you find yourself starting a new project every couple of months with rubble of half completed projects cluttering the path behind you.
I've been there too.
When I first got started online, I began with a financial blog. I had expectations that it would become huge and I would become the next great Dave Ramsey.
However, after some point of not seeing any results and reading forums or other blogs, I decided that if I created an ebook, that would be the next best thing!
I completed the ebook (which I've never mentioned here before), and it flopped. Rather than trying some real marketing, I got slapped with another shiny object…lead generation!
I built a lead gen site in the financial space and got bored with it. Finally I discovered small niche sites back in 2008 or so…and this was a good fit for me!
I saw some early success with my first couple of niche sites, and then I finally learned to focus on this one strategy and it allowed me to quit my day job just a couple of years later.
In a sense building niche sites was a way for me to still go after lots of shiny objects (building a new niche site on random topics), but I was still focused on just one-strategy (ranking in Google quickly for long tail keywords).
While building these niche sites, I was of course tempted along the way to dive into other projects, but I focused for the most part and it paid off for me in a big way. I went from making almost nothing in 2009 online, to making over $16,000 a month shortly after quitting my job in 2011.
My problem recently
I've made some good decisions in my business that played off my strengths of building niche sites. That includes starting this blog and sticking with it for over 4 years now and creating Long Tail Pro; which has become a very successful software business in it's own right.
So, I'm not a perfect example of avoiding additional projects…by a long shot. I enjoy building new sites, I have a software company, and I run this blog. However, in a strange way these are all related and I can handle most of it because I have my employees Perrin and Jake helping me out.
However, I've allowed myself to drift a bit too far after some shiny objects, even recently. Let me explain.
I mentioned briefly in a blog post a few months ago, that I was going to rent an office in a coworking space locally. In conjunction, I mentioned that I was becoming a partner in a software development company.
The company itself launched in September and we picked up several software development contracts. However, I found that the original idea of the business continued to morph into something bigger and bigger that required more and more of my time.
I could see that I was starting down a road that would be hard to back-track from if I didn't do something. The shiny object of a local software development firm was taking me away from my core business that all of you are so familiar with.
As a result of some SERIOUS thinking, I decided to leave the company in order to allow me to focus my time on my core business. It was a tough decision, but I was immediately relieved.
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The software development company is actually doing well and has recently made some new hires, but I'm glad that the current owners can give it the time and attention it deserves, rather than me.
As crazy as it sounds, even when you hit your income and business goals, you might still be like me and try to pursue additional options.
The syndrome never goes away completely.
[bctt tweet=”Shiny object syndrome is kinda like alcoholism, you are never really cured, just in remission.”]
Again, I don't have all the answers to cure your unfocused ways. I will simply say that you are likely to do MUCH better in business if you focus on one thing at a time. It's not easy; I've been there…however, you really will do better to stop chasing your tail.
I have 3 successes from my business that have in part come because I was able to stick with it and focus enough to grow these revenue streams.
First is my niche site business that I mentioned. When I finally took to the time to focus and pull all my effort into niche sites (for a few years straight), I was able to quit my day job because my business income had exceeded my day-job income. I continue to focus on building out sites, with Perrin and I putting a lot of effort into our authority site project and Kindle books right now.
Second is Long Tail Pro. I launched Long Tail Pro right around the same time that I quit my job back in 2011. I've been able to grow that software business each and every year, and that business is currently on pace to have another record year. Again, this is something I've just “stuck” with for about 4 years now…it's paying off immensely now.
Finally, is NichePursuits.com itself. I've been blogging for over 5 years now…crazy! If I had tried to chase every opportunity that came along, I probably would have not had time to blog. While NichePursuits.com does not make me a significant amount of money directly, it has helped me build a large audience, generate large amounts of traffic naturally everyday, and provides a platform for anything I might want to do in the future.
4 Ways to Help Overcome Shiny Object Syndrome
I don't have a magic wand or special words that I can say to change your shiny objects tendencies; however, here's a few thoughts that might help you think differently about how you are operating.
- Set goals. I've always been a big believer in goal setting as it really does help you focus your energies. As you know, your goals should be specific and measurable. And if you are having a hard time focusing, set goals that specifically mention the 1 or 2 projects that you are going to work on.
- Plan your day. I don't have any fancy time management or planning tools. However, each morning I jot down with a pen and paper (old school!) the 5 or so things that I most want to accomplish for the day. I number them in priority and work on number 1 until its finished before moving onto the next ones. This helps more than you might think.
- Remove distractions. For me this is email. However, for you this may be reading other blogs or following social media. I would set up specific times a day where you are “allowed” to check email or read blogs. You will find that being a little more strict with your time will help you accomplish much more.
- Pick your own winning strategy. In other words, don't just follow the crowd. Think of a business strategy that makes sense to you and pursue it. I've said this many times before, but the best business to go into is the one that makes sense to you and hopefully you've developed with a unique angle. While it's okay to glean business information from others, if you solely rely on a “blueprint” you will likely always be looking for the next blueprint to your success.
Unfortunately, doing all these things won't guarantee your business success, but it will at least give the opportunity to focus long enough on one idea to see if it has legs or not.
Overall, hopefully some of these ideas will help you realize that it's to focus a little more if you hope to succeed. Also, I'm not perfect at this either!
I've shared some of my own ups and downs getting distracted with other projects, but I can point directly to where my business income has come from and see that it's the projects that I've focused that have succeeded.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.