What Is Bright Shiny Object Syndrome & How Can You Beat It?

By Jenni Syrjala

Your Facebook feed is full of them, as is Twitter, and don’t even get me started on Pinterest. As online business owners, we are surrounded by bright, shiny objects day in, day out. Everyone is selling the latest “must-have” gadget, software or program, and sometimes it’s just impossible to resist… Enter: Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. 

Bombarded by bright shiny objects – you don’t stand a chance!

You know that feeling when you are first starting your business, and there are so many things to learn? Too many to count, in fact! The sheer number of things you need to know to get started is mind-boggling, and you probably haven’t even discovered half of them yet!

In the world of the modern entrepreneur you spend your days being bombarded with Bright Shiny Objects. One post is talking about the Must Have software to take your business off the ground, while the next outlines the benefits of a program that will help you reach seven figures in seven weeks, and a third tells sells you a brand new gadget which you can’t live without if you want your business to be taken seriously.

You can’t seem to focus on what matters – doing the work to grow your business – as all your attention is taken up by all these bright shiny objects promising you a shortcut to financial success and glory. You get bogged down by what ifs and fear of missing out – “what if this is the person or product who will teach me the secret? What if this time I will learn what I need to get my business off the ground?”

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome kicks in, and you find yourself unable to resist. You get sucked in, and you end up spending more money than you are currently making on courses you don’t complete, software you don’t know how to use, and entry to Facebook groups you don’t even like.

How not to succumb to the lure of BSO

Your bank balance is suffering, your nerves are suffering and your business is suffering. This has to stop. So here are my 4 tips on how to beat BSO Syndrome:

1.  Why are you doing it?

The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem, so well done for taking this first step! Now you should try to figure out where this problem comes from. Are you just spending your days shopping for BSOs as a way of procrastinating (procrastaspending) to avoid doing the things you should be doing? Maybe you’re new to business, and it’s a whole new, unfamiliar world for you, and you’re just wanting to be as equipped as possible before you “head out there for real”? Or maybe you’re feeling insecure and experiencing impostor syndrome, and your mind keeps telling you that you have to keep taking courses and signing up for programs and getting certified in all sorts of things before you can really call yourself a writer or a social media expert or a coach, and before you can start charging people for your services.

If this is you, I want to say this: no one is ever ready, so you have to start before you’re ready – otherwise you will never start at all. Oprah wasn’t always Oprah, and the first 100 blog posts or videos or other types of creations you put out there won’t be that great anyway, but if you let your BSO Syndrome stop you from getting started, you will never get there. In at the deep end, I say! That’s where you learn.

2.  Analyse your situation

Sit down and take inventory of where BSO Syndrome has gotten you so far. Write down all the courses you bought and didn’t access, all the books you never read, all the software you never learned how to use – basically anything you regret spending money on or that you can see now you didn’t make the most of. Calculate how much BSO Syndrome has already cost you. Maybe even put the list somewhere visible, so that you can refer to it next time you get close to spending money you shouldn’t be spending.

Next, write a list of all the things you need to learn – they will feel a lot less overwhelming once you get them down on paper. And then go and find free online resources that will teach you how to do those things. The world is full of free webinars, blog posts and newsletters that will teach you pretty much anything from podcasting to website building – all you have to do is go out and find them.

3.  Get a proper overview of your business finances

How much money is coming in? How much of that is going out? Are you making a profit? It is also super important that you keep your personal and business finances separate. Make sure you have a business account (often this can just be a normal account, unless you live in a country with specific regulations regarding business accounts, so avoid expensive accounts when you can!) where all your business income goes and that you charge all business spending to, and pay yourself a salary out of this account. This will help you get a proper overview of how much money is coming in, how much is going out, and what sort of things you are actually spending your money on.

4.  Plan

This is key to keep BSO Syndrome at bay – plan for the things you really want or have to spend money on, and stick to the plan! This is basically a budget for your business. If you know there’s a big conference coming up that you really want to go to, you have to figure out how much that is going to cost you, and how much you have to set aside each month to get that money together – and then check your figures to see if you can really afford it. Remember – having the money and being able to afford something is not always the same thing!

By planning, budgeting and saving up for your purchases ahead of time you can enjoy that business retreat to the Bahamas or that swanky new laptop without having to feel guilty and getting into loads of debt. You can enjoy the experience or purchase so much more, because you know you’ve earned it!

In the shiny world of online businesses the battle against BSO will never end. But if you take these steps to become aware of the problem and prepare for it, the constant assault of shiny must-haves won’t seem as distracting.

Now, over to you: what is the craziest thing you have spent money on when you succumbed to Bright Shiny Object Syndrome? Designer clothes for a photo shoot? A $100 planner? Let’s confess and get it off our chests! Leave a comment below :)

Jenni Syrjala is completely obsessed with personal finance. When her friends stopped returning her calls, she took the hint and decided to stop pestering them with unwanted money advice, and instead become a money coach and speaker.

Jenni specialises in helping female entrepreneurs who have been hit by Bright Shiny Object Syndrome to steer clear of all the temptations that are thrown at us every single day, and to learn how to manage their money in a way that lets them focus on their business and achieve the freedom they so desperately want. She is passionate about teaching women to take control of their finances instead of hiding from them, and to help them see that money doesn’t have to be stressful – it can’t be exciting, too! Connect with her on her site, on Facebook and on Twitter.