One Step Forward, One Step Back.
Our early ancestors weren’t astronauts or physicists or doctors. They were generalists—completely overwhelmed by the numerous skills required to simply stay alive.
Millions of years years later DIY is fashionable again thanks to the internet, which makes it possible to “become a marketing expert in one day” or “build a better website in an hour” or “buy 10,000 Twitter followers for $40.”
This all sounds great, but is DIY really an effective strategy for your business?
Is it even worth your time?
Spoiler Alert: Probably not.
If you’re considering handling your next project yourself, it can be helpful to ask yourself a these 5 questions before diving in:
1: Am I going to enjoy this?
I think passion begets results, and vice versa, so before you embark on a DIY journey you should always ask yourself whether this is a skill you even want to develop.
Am I capable of doing my own taxes? Sure, but I hate doing it, and the definition of a “Marginal Tax Rate” is literally the last thing on earth I want taking up space in my brain.
My account loves that stuff. I’ll leave it to him.
2: Do I know what is required?
A few times a year I rotate and/or swap my snow and summer tires. It’s a relatively simple task, and requires only a few tools (jack, tire iron, lubricant).
On the other hand, I would never try to replace my car’s brakes because I don’t know—even generally—what parts or processes are involved.
If you can’t outline the basic skills and steps the project requires, then you should go ahead and hire someone who does.
3: Is DIY a good use of my time?
There’s a common misconception that DIY is somehow “cheap” or even “free.” It’s true, technically you’re not paying someone when you handle a job yourself, but what is your own time worth?
I could save $25/mo by having clients mail me checks, but FreshBooks takes care of this automatically, which frees up multiple hours in my schedule.
I can use this time to learn new skills, find new clients, or take time off—all of which pay back the original cost manyfold.
4: Will the final product be high-quality?
Once upon a time (aka two years ago) I tried to code my own project management app. It was a fun and super-rewarding experience, but the task was way too much for one person to handle.
Nowadays, I manage complex projects with ActiveCollab, and I’m amazed, on a daily basis, at how much thought and effort must have gone into the app to make it powerful, yet simple and user friendly.
If you’re starting a DIY project as a beginner, it’s unrealistic to expect professional results.
5: Do I know what success and failure look like (specifically)?
One of the most challenging parts of learning a new process or skill is trying to figure out whether you’ve done things the right way or made costly mistakes.
In other words, it’s hard to know what you don’t know.
Let’s say you create a website on Squarespace. It seems to look ok, so you go ahead and launch. Months go by, and you aren’t getting any traction.
An expert might review your site and find that your contact form is broken, or your design doesn’t work well on mobile devices, or one of a million such details that they’re trained to be aware of.
DIY is a great option for casual, low-stakes projects, but can quickly turn into a rabbit hole for more complex undertakings.
If you answered “no” to more than one of these questions, you should take a step back and consider whether hiring an expert might be the smarter option.