As an entrepreneur, you’re creative, innovative, and eager to achieve new levels in your business. Often, that translates into a bit of a squirrel brain. There are so many wonderful opportunities — why say no to any of them?
However, that’s how business owners get overwhelmed and stalled. That shiny new equipment or exciting product idea sounds amazing. But if you take on too many projects or investments that don’t suit your business, you’ll be left without a clear direction.
And that, unfortunately, is a recipe for frustration among both yourself and your team.
Let me tell you a story.
A charming little taqueria opens up in a big city. Despite going up against well-known restaurants, they gain a loyal following. They’re known for their tasty sauces and unique taco fillings.
The business does so well that they open a new location. And another. And another. And another. The menu keeps expanding. The owner decides to broaden their target audience by installing big-screen TVs and beer taps. They push their staff to reach Taco Bell-levels of speed.
Suddenly, their revenue drops. The multiple locations go empty most of the day. Employees quit one by one. The once-loyal customers stop coming.
It’s a tale as old as time. The restaurant business is hard. But this dynamic happens in all sorts of businesses.
I call it “shiny object syndrome.” When you lack clarity in your business, you tend to say yes to everything. As a result, you lose sight of your core values — your “Why,” as Simon Sinek would say.
So many entrepreneurs get stalled because they don’t know this “why.” OR they do when they begin, but that happy squirrel brain leads them to overcomplicate their business.
As I always say, simple is better. Simplicity creates sustainability and strength.
So, what happened with the taqueria? Sadly, several of its new locations shut down within a couple of years. That capital investment became a drain. Worse, the brand’s reputation faded.
The owner had not kept their business plans in line with their promise. A bustling fast-food franchise with TVs was a huge departure from their initial experience. When all that changed, both the employees and the customers felt betrayed.
That’s one reason why it’s crucial to stick to your role as an entrepreneur — and that means strategizing your business’s growth. With so many locations and a lack of clear direction, the taqueria owner was stuck working “in” the business rather than “on” it.
Don’t let that be you. You have only so many decision-making juices in your brain on a given day. Focus those decisions on what’s going to propel the business forward.
That usually doesn’t involve deciding how many tortillas to order. That could be left to your managers or other team leaders. By creating a process, you cultivate simplicity, transparency, and — most importantly — accountability.
As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t be dealing with lower-level decisions for your business. It has several negative effects:
That’s why it’s vital to (a) delegate tasks and (b) create a strategic plan for your business. If you don’t know why you’re doing X or why you should say “no” to Y, you’re more likely to forget X and say “yes” to Y.
You end up taking on too much, losing sight of the big picture, and creating an unsustainable mix of misaligned people and products.
Had the taqueria owner had a clear strategic plan, their expansion and changes may have gone better. But instead, they let their shiny object syndrome take over, chasing revenue at whatever cost.
When you have a strategic plan, it allows you to say “no” or “yes” with greater clarity, because you have a reason behind those decisions.
To free up this space for yourself, let go of the minutiae. If a task already has a process or accountability behind it, let it be done at that level. Then, you can achieve clarity on how to grow your business.
I feel for those taqueria employees. They were either stretched thin or forced to bounce among locations. And because the owner never shared a strategic plan, they didn’t know why all these changes were happening.
When you thoroughly plan your business and create accountability, you allow others to buy into that plan. You can cultivate their sense of ownership and excitement. Anything you delegate to them carries meaning and motivation.
Put another way, if you don’t know your ultimate destination, it’s hard to keep your travel companions safe and happy. When your team can make decisions, so can you.
And you should involve them in those decisions. Don’t underestimate the power of buy-in. When you create accountability and clarity, you gain more loyalty.
People want to feel like a part of your mission. They want to own their decisions and feel confident in their job. That’s a clear lesson from the Great Resignation.
But if you’re gathering shiny objects for your business, or if you’re hurtling forward without a plan, your team doesn’t have clarity on your “why.” And frankly, neither do you.
Keep it simple. What works? What makes your employees and customers appreciate you? Why do they show up? What values do you all share?
By creating a strategic plan, you build a roadmap. It’s okay to tweak that journey. But your team and customers should know where you’re going, too.
Only then can you focus on your goals and truly invest your energy in your growth strategy. It can be scary. You may need to be more vulnerable.
But just imagine what would have happened if that taqueria owner had invited their employees to discuss the expansion. Or gained their input in what would entice customers. Or given them a way to feel ownership of their tasks.
I bet things would have turned out differently.
So if you feel your momentum has stopped or that you’ve hit a ceiling, reevaluate your plan. Or build one, if you haven’t yet. Bake your core values, your “why,” into the plan.
As I explain in my Wheel of Momentum, it all starts with clarity. When you know what you’re doing and why, it’s easier to delegate with confidence. That freedom gives you the chance to grow.
Plus, it creates accountability. Your team members understand their purpose. They’re excited to help the business grow.
From there, you can move forward with confidence. You can say “no” to the shiny new thing because it doesn’t align with your plan. Most importantly, you can say “yes” to the right opportunities for your goals.
More is not always better. Complex, catch-all businesses rarely succeed. That’s because people are relatively simple. We want comfort, connection, and confidence.
Once you clarify your goals and focus your efforts, it’s much easier to create those. We must carry a light load rather than weighing down the journey with a bunch of shiny trinkets. Only then can we reach our ultimate destination.
This article was loosely written based on an episode of the Simplifying Entrepreneurship Podcast with John St. Pierre. Here’s our full, uncut interview as well: