Apologies for the lack of Digital Upstart emails in recent weeks.

For Easter I took the family on holiday to the beautiful island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

If you like palm trees, white sandy beaches, gourmet food and sunshine every day… (and I guess most people do!)… then it’s probably as close to paradise on earth as you can get.

I’m not telling you this to show off, by the way.

Being a typical ‘Brit abroad’ I overdid the sunbathing on the first day and had to remain in the shade whilst my first degree burns healed!

While I was sat on the veranda of my hotel, I spent a lot of time thinking about online business (both mine and yours!) and writing down ideas for Digital Upstart

Yes, that person in the sunglasses reflection at the top of this email is really me! I went ‘old school’ with a pen and notepad.

Anyway, while scribbling away beneath a palm tree, it struck me…

Are our chances of success being ruined by choice?

What most people love about beach holidays is that it strips away all the clutter and choice from daily life.

On a classic beach holiday you have only a few of your clothes packed.

No refrigerator full of food to choose from.

No shopping lists.

No having to work out what you’re doing that week, which friends you need to meet, or where you’re going out for dinner at the weekend.

In fact, many hotels offer set menus, one choice of evening entertainment, one swimming pool, one bar…. and yet people love it.

Every morning you wake up knowing exactly what you’re doing that day. And usually it’s just enough to enjoy yourself and nothing more.

I don’t know about you, but there’s a massive sense of freedom in that.

It makes you wonder if all this choice in our regular lives liberates and empowers us… or imprisons and paralyses us?

It’s a condition known as the Tyranny of Choice.

And in 2016 it’s probably THE biggest obstacle to anyone trying to set up and market a business online.

Yes, free choice drives capitalist markets, increasing competition and generating growth.

But there’s a downside…

As the options increase, it becomes harder to sift through and analyse which choice is right for you… until the point comes where it’s too much effort and time involved for the reward you get.

In a 2004 book called The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz writes: “Choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannise.”

For you, there are now so many choices about how you’re going to run your business online, I don’t blame you if you feel overwhelmed, anxious or confused.

To show you what I mean, take a look at this inforgraphic recently published by chiefmartech.com: it lists all the major marketing technology providers.

For a closer look, take a look at the full size infographic.

Have you ever seen anything like that?

Almost impossible to read isn’t it?

In the image above, there are an incredible 3,874 marketing technology solutions currently available in 2016…

They range from eCommerce platforms, mobile marketing tools, social media, video marketing and PR tools… to SEO, scheduling apps, social media monitoring, sales automation, squeeze pages, outsourcing, web analytics, crowd-funding and workflow…

However, the same infographic listed just 1,876 companies in 2015.

And in 2014 it showed only 947 companies.

That means the number choices you are faced with when it comes to choosing your online marketing tools is more or less DOUBLING every year.

Yet this isn’t even the full picture. The creators of the research admit:

“Amazingly, this is still not comprehensive. Counting marketing technologies is like counting stars in the sky — there’s always a higher resolution at which you could see more.”

Every month new interfaces, software, communications platforms and apps flood into the marketplace.

I lose count of the number of beta-test invites I get for new apps or platforms that are supposed to transform my business.

I’ve been working in online business since 1998 and I get bamboozled… so I can hardly blame you for feeling confused or bewildered by all this.

There is so much choice, and so little obvious difference between many products, the average small business owner and start-up entrepreneur simply doesn’t have a clue where to start.

Some give up in frustration. Others spend weeks… months or years, even… trying to set up their businesses using these technologies.

Many end up picking useless, unsuitable, unnecessary or downright useless products.

In the process they waste time and money that’s better spent focusing on what REALLY makes a business work.

Because while technological tools can definitely help run a business faster and smarter… a lot of them are really nothing to do with the core principles of making money…

  • Target a hungry, active marketplace of qualified buyers
  • Have a unique and alluring proposition that benefits those people
  • Stand out from the crowd by looking, sounding and behaving differently
  • Find a human, personal approach that’s unique
  • Draw customers in with interesting content that enriches their lives
  • Have a product that genuinely helps them solve problems or reach goals

Look, I love a gadget as much as the next person.

I get excited by iPhone doodle apps, for goodness sake.

But I also know that all the fancy tools and gizmos in the world won’t help you with any of the above.

So this is what I have resolved to do.

Over the coming months, I’ll help you to radically reduce the technology choices to those that are really essential to growing your business.

Once I’ve narrowed the choices to just a handful, I’ll review and rate them so that you can pick the right one for you.

More than that, I hope to work on a way you can get the right tools and technologies tailor fit for you.

After all there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to online business.

You have to create a business that’s unique and plays to your strengths.

What’s more, I’m going to absolutely buck this trend for insane technology worship (a form of gadget mania!) and concentrate on the proven elements that will get you customers, enable you to keep those customers loyal and hungry for products, and sell those products to them – not just once but over and over again.

To get all the benefits of this, make sure you’re subscribed to the Digital Upstart service, that you keep reading these emails, and – if possible – that you’re following me on Twitter @NickUpStart.

I’m back from holiday, with a light red-brown skin tone, and ready to help you succeed.