Beating Shiny Object Syndrome

Beating Shiny Object Syndrome

It took me over 2 years to launch With Jack. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Insurance is a regulated industry, but it was a minefield for me to navigate. I had trouble knowing how to even get started.
  2. Insurers didn’t want to work with me. I had no existing customers or any indication I could build a successful business. I also had no money to fund it. This was a red flag for insurers.
  3. I wasn’t focused enough.

Today I want to write about number 3. Not being focused enough. Or in my case, executing on so many of my ideas that I was being pulled away from my ultimate goal; to launch With Jack.

Here are just some of the projects I was working on:

  • Wedding photography
  • Weekly podcast
  • Gaming blog
  • Photo course
  • SaaS app for landlords
  • Photo walks

The list goes on…

A list of my projects

I had all of these projects that I was giving a little of my time to. I wanted to build and launch With Jack, but I wasn’t putting 100% into it.

I thought I was, but in hindsight I was giving 5% to one project, 20% to another etc. What did this leave for With Jack?

I was good at dreaming up ideas and executing on them. I thought this was something to be proud of, but now I realise it was holding me back. We all have a limit of time, energy and focus. Having so many projects meant spreading myself thin.

I was owner of a bunch of half-baked projects or inactive domains that never had the commitment they need to become great projects.

Maybe you are, too.

Ideas need an extraordinary amount of work behind them to become great projects. An extraordinary amount of work. Unless you’re Superhuman, you can’t do that with 3, 4 or 5 projects on the go. I wish I’d learned that earlier.

Two unrelated events brought me to this conclusion. It first struck me after reading about Nathan Barry’s experience. His product, ConvertKit, was failing and he was considering shutting it down. Instead he decided to focus on it full-time.

What resonated with me was the following quote from Nathan’s post on growing ConvertKit to $30,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

“Have I given my company every possible chance to succeed?” If the answer is no (as it was for me), then truly give it everything you have.

And look at ConvertKit now.

Secondly, getting admitted to hospital with pneumonia caused me to reconsider where I was investing my time. I love my life and I’m very lucky, but one of my businesses was failing and the other wasn’t even up and running. I was stressed and my body was trying to tell me something.

Realising this, I culled my personal projects and gave With Jack my full commitment.

I don’t have anything against personal projects, and I’ll certainly come back to some of mine in the future. They’re great for learning a new skill or figuring out what you enjoy doing. But they played a vital part in holding me back from launching.

With Jack still doesn’t yet have 100% of my focus. Due to a lack of funding, I’m still juggling wedding photography with building With Jack (wedding photography has funded a lot of my development costs).

Ruthless Prioritisation

Once I’d culled my personal projects, I saw a big difference in my output with Jack. This was when everything changed for me. The results spoke for themselves.

I sat (and passed) my first insurance exam. I flew to London and met the person who would help me launch my business. Three months later With Jack was live. A little over a year later I have 150 customers.

Ruthless prioritisation is where the magic happens.

We’re creatives, we’re makers. We come up with new ideas and—because we have the skill set to execute on them—end up being pulled in different directions.

Are you guilty of shiny object syndrome? Are you owner of a bunch of halk-baked projects or inactive domains? My advice is to pick one idea, give it the resources it needs to become a great project and cull the rest.

Each idea needs an extraordinary amount of work behind it to become a great project. Understanding that and realising I couldn’t do that with multiple projects is what helped me beat shiny object syndrome.

Ashley Baxter's Picture

About Ashley Baxter

Ashley is building With Jack, business insurance on a first name basis. She likes video games, photography, and her dog, Indie. Based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Glasgow, Scotland iamashley.co.uk