Startup Founders, Beware of Shiny Objects

After years working with Startups one thing is crystal clear. Focus is one key to a startup’s success. Of course there are many factors which will determine if a company succeeds to live another day or gets left on the side of the startup road, but without focus there is minimal chance of success.

Watching CEOs who follow or search for a shiny object in lieu of putting in hard work and keeping their team focused is painful to see. It is almost the same as watching a car crash in slow motion. You know what is about to happen and you don’t want to see it.

Beware of the Shiny Object

Too often teams get distracted by shiny objects or the grass is greener mentality. I have seen this many times and it comes in different flavors. Such as:

  • Let’s work with XYZ company since they had success with fill in the name of a big initiative (often the initiative is unrelated to the core business).
  • This new product / widget will drive the business.
  • Why don’t we get a major Instagram influencer to work with us?
  • Who can we find on YouTube to share our video?
  • Sometimes new hires “who have all the answers” can be the shiny object.

The list goes on but I imagine you get the idea. None of these are strategic in nature and almost all are shots in the dark. Each will distract from the daily goal of running and growing the business. Instead of driving focus to the key parts of the business these shiny objects take valuable time and mind space away from those who know what they “need” to do to drive the business.

Don’t fall for the “it’s too good to be true” hype and stay focused on driving the business using strategic planning, sales and marketing.

Note — This is very different from testing new tactics and trying to find new levers for your business. Your teams should be doing this as a matter of their daily tasks. Make sure you give them all the support they need as long as their goals are the same as the business.

Great startups don’t react based on the latest fad or jump on the latest social media bandwagon hoping for a grand slam. Nor do they fall prey to the hype of marketing buzz. Keep focused on the fundamentals and drive the business.

So how does your startup maintain focus? Or have they fallen for a shiny object approach and ended up crashed in the process?

What are your thoughts about startups and shiny objects? Leave me a comment to continue the discussion.