The Cure for Bright Shiny Object Syndrome

Every entrepreneur (god, that word is awful) ever must go through this.

Something in your mind changes when you start your own business. The longer you’re in it the worse it gets. You start seeing ideas literally EVERYWHERE. While walking down the street, hanging out at the shops, drinking an overpriced beer at a pub, you name it. Not only that, but people will start throwing ideas at you left right and center. Before you’ve finished a couple of beers, you’ll have at least 6 apps that would be awesome for at least one person.

All of a sudden, you’ve got a brain full of potential businesses. Inevitably, most of them will be crap (read: unmarketable or unscalable) ideas, but there will be a few gems. Most of them will be in completely different directions. You will want do all of them.
bright shiny object syndrome
A common trait among successful people is at some point, they took one thing and ran with it. If it failed, they tried something else. There are of course exceptions, but I guarantee you none of them developed 10 ideas simultaneously in a bootstrapped, sole-director businesses.

How then do you decide which idea is going to be killer? This decision can be insanely painful if you are the type who struggles to make decisions on the spot.

You’re going to look everywhere for the answer. Guess what? This one is completely on you. No one else is making the decision. Not even Google.

People can offer advice, but you better make sure it is qualified advice. Your mate saying “oh yeah that’s awesome, I’d use that”, does not count as qualified advice (unless your mates are your target audience and have money). A guy who has built multiple businesses in a similar industry probably counts. Unless you’re already well networked, you’ve got some searching to do to find the latter.

A good place to start is forums, podcasts, LinkedIn groups, or anywhere you can find either a) your target audience or b) some potential mentors hanging out.

You should also be doing your own research into market size, number and size of potential competitors, and talking to people in your target audience about the problems you are going to solve. Their reactions to the problem (not solution) you describe will be a top indication. You can look at Google Adwords to see how many people are searching for specific terms to get an idea of market size. Try plugging competitors into tools like SEMRush to see how people are finding them and what ads they are running (Hint: lots of ads generally mean lots of money)

The idea is to gather as much information about each of your ideas as possible before making a decision on which idea you think is the most valuable. There will always be the risk of failure, but you can at least minimise it by making an informed decision based on real metrics. When you rush a decision like this, chances are that a year down the track after wasting huge amounts of time and maybe money, you’ll look back and think “oh man, that was dumb.”

Maybe some of your ideas will have elements that overlap with each other. If you talk to enough people in a given industry, this is pretty much guaranteed. The overlap itself could be an ever better idea for your first product, and you can expand later. MVP that shit.

Eventually, you’re just going to have to make a call and hope that it is the best based on the research you have done. For Job On Time, this took me like 5 months. WAY longer than it should have, but at least I’m feeling pretty confident.

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