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5 Simple Rules To Evaluate Ideas and Control the Bright Shiny Object Syndrome

This post is about a handful of rules I have tried to adopt when evaluating new opportunities. I don’t want to “fight” the bright shiny object syndrome as many new ideas are worth pursuing but this post is about how to “control” the urge to start too many different things!

Chasing the bright shiny object is a big part of what I do but I can’t endlessly pursue every exciting opportunity.

So this post is about a handful of tricks I use to try and determine if an idea is worth pursuing or not.

First Step is Admitting We Are Not Rational! In a perfect world I would put each new project on a list and use some calculation of NPV or IRR and determine the priority of the project. However, my brain is not that rational… the emotional side will skew the assumptions to the point that these calculations will turn into highly precise but inaccurate BS so I have made a handful of rules that try to trick/use my emotional brain to come up with an efficient way to get to the right decision on pursuing an opportunity or not!

I am a long way from perfect when it comes to this process so if you have any tips/tricks please share below.

Hopefully, if you struggle from chasing the bright shiny object syndrome or running after too many different projects this process will help!

Useful books:

  • TheOneThing
  • FooledByRandomness

So when a new idea comes my way here are the simple rules I try to follow to ensure I fight the urge to jump into projects I can’t fully commit to!

 

 5 Simple Rules To Help Evaluate a New Idea

 

ONE – Sit on an Idea for 24hrs

When an idea comes in I find it best to write it down and sit on it for at least one day. Many ideas that sound brilliant at the time later look completely STUPID!

By writing it down when the idea is fresh in my head I am able to give me the freedom to think through the idea and essentially scratch the mental itch quickly then shift back to whatever task I was on.

If I try and fight the urge to write down the idea I end up becoming less efficient on whatever task I am on.

Example – One example of an idea I forced myself to sleep on was pursuing an Amazon FBA business. Once I had slept on it for a day I made the much smarter decision of not blindly trying to pick a winner for a product but pursue an FBA business off the back of an already successful Amazon Affiliate Site (read more about this strategy here).

 

TWO –  Do I have less than 2 projects that are not sustainable yet and still need me to muscle them?

One concept I talk about a lot with my staff is the number of projects we have that are not sufficiently systematized. When that number of projects for any person is greater than 2 they(and myself) end up juggling multiple projects to just keep them afloat while not actually pushing the project forward efficiently.

So one of the most important things for me to consider is do I have 2 projects that are requiring a substantial amount of my time right now? If I do I need to push one to completion before I take on another big task.

The number of 2 projects is completely arbitrary and I thought it was because I wasn’t always great at focusing so I could only handle a couple… however, as I have worked with my 5 person in house team I see this repeating itself with them. If I load them up with more then 2 BIG tasks they have ownership of their attention seems to get split too much and the result is the work just floats along vs being driven to completion.

Example – I made a mistake recently where I took on overhauling the system for NicheWolf.com while I had other BIG projects on the go. This resulted in that project stretching out a LOT longer then it should have had I simply dedicated myself to it.

 

THREE –  Am I at email 0? If I am too busy to get to email zero I am too busy to take on more BIG projects!

My email systems are definitely not to be envied but basically, I have some help processing email and then every day either respond to email or boomerang it to return later for me to deal with.

If I am not getting through this process and getting all my emails dealt with (either responded to/read or boomeranged) then I am broken and don’t have the capacity for a new project.

I need to go into email cleanup mode and try to get projects or tasks off of my plate that are contributing to my inbox being a constraint.

Like all these rules this is a LONG WAY from perfect but I think of it as the canary in the coal mine… if I am not handling my inbox then I am broken and need to make some changes to get back to being able to process my email every 24hrs.

Example – Right now I have had a series of activities that have put me behind in my email and was unable to get caught up for almost a week. As a result I have pushed several opportunities off and focused on trying to identify what projects I can reduce the total number of email I need to deal with.

 

FOUR – Unless I have a competitive advantage don’t pursue projects!

Lots and lots of ideas sound amazing. Someone will bring me an opportunity and it sounds amazing… but one question that seems to push a lot of potential projects off my plate is “do I have an unfair competitive advantage?”

This advantage can take many forms and a lot of what I have been doing for the last 8 years is building skills, team, connections and knowledge that can be deployed to create a competitive advantage. However, there are still a lot of ideas where I need to admit that I have a limited competitive advantage(if any) and as a result, it doesn’t make sense to pursue.

Example – When evaluating would I start ContentRefined.com I needed to evaluate did I have an unfair competitive advantage? My thought was the combination of my content creation systems being a results in google focused (not $/word focused writing service like the competition), having an awesome manager and my audience here I thought I would have a competitive advantage.

 

FIVE – How does it fit within my mission/vision/values? 

Finally or maybe it should be first on the list but does whatever the task/project/idea is fit with my “why” or mission/vision/values/goals. Asking a handful of questions that check if this is aligned with my values helps… Does this add value? Am I able keep building a team member into an entrepreneur? Does a systematic approach to solving this problem give me an advantage? Am I able to do exactly what I say we will?

These questions and checking my mission/vision/values/goals definitely helps show if an idea is in the sweet spot of what I should be doing or if it falls well outside of what I want to be doing.

Example – One website that we were recently evaluating to purchase I thought added very little value (to be blunt I think it was likely tricking people to pay for something) the result was that although the opportunity looked great from a $ standpoint the idea did not get me fired up because it was not a fit with a couple of my values (always add value / do what we say we will always).

 

So there you have my rough 5 simple rules for evaluating new opportunities. I am sure everyone will be different but I think it is worth considering how you evaluate new opportunities!

I find a lot of us get overly distracted and as a result, don’t push any part of our business far enough along! Unlike most I embrace the bright shiny object and don’t mind having a ton of projects on the go but need to ensure they are the right projects getting the right amount of attention and the 5 rules above have helped (again not perfect) me do this.

How do you control your urges to pursue multiple projects? Any tips/tricks?

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

8 comments
Gavin Jackson says May 31, 2017

Good advice!

Reply
    Jon says May 31, 2017

    Thanks Gavin… now I just need to be more consistent about following it!

    Reply
David says May 31, 2017

Shiny object syndrome is one of my biggest weakness. And the third point has punched me in the face, so I go back now and work myself through some of those emails…

Thank you, really good article.

Reply
    Jon says May 31, 2017

    Happy to hear it was at least a little helpful!

    Reply
      David says June 10, 2017

      It was really helpful! I could keep myself at email zero almost every day since then. 🙂

      Reply
Nate Alger says May 31, 2017

Hi Jon,

I am thinking more and more what my competitive advantage is before starting a new project. When I first started I think I thought just copying others (like many in Amazon FBA) works. But money is found in the competitive advantage from what I have found.

Reply
Elena says June 1, 2017

Jon,
you have two bios on every page. One says you are 31 and father of 2, the other 33 and father of 3. Might be confusing to people who have not been following you for a while 🙂

Reply
Rohit says June 1, 2017

Nice advice. One additional check I have is “Does it make my other projects easier?”. Taking your business example, starting content refined will probably make content creation for your affiliate sites much easier. So it’s a go!

Reply
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