time management

What You Need To Know About Bright Shiny Objects

By Asa Beavers

They come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are monumental distractions and time-wasters. Others are opportunities that seem almost too good to pass up. The one thing they have in common is, you and me and other entrepreneurs who constantly have their radar up and attract these things known as Bright Shiny Objects (BSOs).

If you're affected by BSO syndrome here's ways to quickly determine if something is worth your time to explore...


Just this week I had one appear out of nowhere. An acquaintance from several years ago contacted me to ask if I might be interested in submitting a proposal for a project he was involved in. I said I’d like to take a look, so he sent me the RFP – yes, a RFP (Request For Proposal for those of you who haven’t had the privilege of responding to this corporate formality). After receiving the document we spoke on the phone so I could get a few clarifications on exactly what they were looking for. Basically it was a proposal to assist a Board of Directors of a not-for-profit association by facilitating a retreat where they were going to work through a planning process for their upcoming fiscal year. Sounded like a pretty darn good gig, and at the time I shown a great amount of interest to participate.

Stop right there, and queue the dramatic music soundtrack – TA-TA-TA-DAAAAA. As I sat down that night to review all the documentation including their previous year’s plan and preparing to formulate a formal response, my inner voice began questioning whether this project is really in my wheelhouse. I’ve spent the last 9 years working with individual small business owners. And while I have the knowledge and skills to prepare and execute a program for this group of corporate employees who volunteer their time on the Board, I’m now asking myself whether this is where I should be spending my time and effort. There it was, a Bright Shiny Object, and I had to determine whether this was a really good opportunity or a distraction keeping me from focusing on my core business.

Here’s a few questions I asked myself to help me make a determination:

  • Will this opportunity generate profitable revenue? How soon and at what cost?
  • How much time will I need to invest? Will I recoup my investment?
  • Will it increase my business exposure? How much? And with whom?
  • Does it make sense for my business? Why and how?
  • How will I make room for this? What will I have to give up?

The next thing I did was reach out to my business coach. If you don’t have a mentor or a coach or someone you can contact during these times when the BSO is blinding your focus I strongly suggest finding that one person. And I’m sorry for saying this but it usually isn’t going to be your spouse or close friend. They won’t be nearly objective enough to call you out if you’re being drawn into a BSO like a Star Trek tractor beam. You need someone who knows you and your business well enough to break the trance and help you look at the BSO objectively, before you invest a lot of time and money into a “project” not aligned with your current business model.

Several final thoughts on dealing with BSOs:

  • Listen to your inner voice and follow your gut. Your subconscious will lead you down the right path if you let it.
  • Resist the urge to act promptly and delay the decision. It’s funny how time will help create clarity.
  • Seek counsel but choose who that is carefully. It’s easy to find those who will cheer you on, except that’s not what you always need.