Shiny Penny Syndrome


Distractions. We all have them. There are the regular distractions like cat videos on the internet ( or my personal obsession with how-to cake decorating videos) and then there are big picture, big idea type of distractions that can cause more heartache than they are worth. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can be known to suffer from shiny penny syndrome.- every idea we have is a new shiny penny- and we want to shift our focus to it.

The fact of the matter is we are idea people, and all of our ideas are shiny pennies that often distract us from our original, or bigger goals. You need to be careful otherwise you might inadvertently derail yourself. Take George for example.

George has a new product that is well thought out and designed for consumers who don’t want to use plastic grocery bags. His product is a specialized re-usable bag with unique imagery and branding that he is launching online, and in the geographic area of a city that has recently disposed of the use of plastic bags. Before launch, however, he has a new idea- what if we can customize the imagery on the bags?! What a great idea. George gets distracted by this new shiny penny and runs with it, offering custom orders online. The problem is that the amount of work and overhead it takes George for the custom bags is much higher than the standard ones, and his original idea. He switched gears too early with offering the custom bags that he never gave the standard ones a chance, and now he is underwater in both time and money.

This isn’t to say that George’s custom idea wasn’t a good one- it just maybe wasn’t the right time to switch gears so quickly before giving the original idea a chance to grow. Ultimately, George had to close up shop because he realized he didn’t have time and financing to cover the custom orders. He may relaunch and try to start again, but what’s to stop him from being distracted by the next shiny penny idea?

That’s why having a clear business growth plan is important. You will have new ideas, and that is a blessing, but knowing when to follow those ideas and when not to make a huge difference in your business. It’s not saying “no” to your shiny pennies, it’s being disciplined enough to say “not now” and take note and work it into your overall plan.

The moral of the story: keep and save your shiny pennies and use them wisely when it makes sense to do so.