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Shireen Qudosi

The Cult of DIY from a Business Leadership Perspective

Feb 24 2013, 06:00 AM by



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A DIY job is also sometimes unkindly referred to as a “Mickey Mouse job.” In the domestic sphere, people will hardly ever say this to your face unless they’re family – in which case they will likely relish how much you suck. In business, you’re unlikely to hear people say this to your face; you just won’t hear from them at all.

As you're crossing the DIY tightrope from hopeful anticipation at the start of a project to shaky misgivings near the end, here’s what you should probably keep in mind:
DON’T DO IT ALL YOURSELF
As persevering as you are, you can’t possibly do it all yourself. You either don’t have the expertise you need to do it right the first time, or the time to waste learning how to do it yourself. One of the biggest pitfalls of DIY business types is their incessant need to transfer overly ambitious Pinterest type projects over to their business.

Be honest with yourself at the start and admit you don’t have that luxury. A domestic DIY project gone wrong can be chucked, but a business DIY project gone wrong will have cost you something that you might not be able to recover from so easily. Remember that your business isn’t the place to go all Martha Stewart. Rather than try to do it all yourself, why not compartmentalize? Look at the project in total and see what you can do on your own and where you might need some outside help. There’s no shame in getting someone else to do it or getting the help. You can even consider outside help as an opportunity to learn another aspect of your business. You may not be able to do it yourself again the next time around, but you’ll be better informed and therefore a better entrepreneur.

I’ve noticed this overwhelming cultural push to DIY everything and anything, no matter how horribly hideous or useless a project is. I don’t know where this came from or even who has that much time to waste. Keep in mind that while a DIY project might be fine for a lazy Sunday, your business is your business. If you treat your business like a lazy Sunday afternoon project, then don’t be surprised if profits and other measures of success take a hit.

Get help when you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s that simple.

Knowing when you’re out of your depth is the mark of a great leader. A great leader knows his shortcomings. He knows that he shouldn’t be doing it all himself. He knows that his time is best spent doing what he does best – that’s real business DIY. Why send someone else to create a campaign when you can do it yourself or when you can delegate the work to a team and oversee them via winning leadership skills? DIY business is building a business from the ground up. It’s about taking on an active role but knowing when to step back in the interest of the company.

It’s about spending four days working on your own marketing graphics when you know nothing about design. It’s not about wasting 1 month learning Photoshop and Illustrator so you can make your own graphics. And it’s not about spending additional countless months learning web design or fumbling with WordPress custom sites so you can save $2500 on a designer. That’s not called business DIY; it’s called something else entirely. These may seem like very specific what-not-to-do DIY business examples and that’s because they are. I’d say 1 in every 3 business owners have made this mistake and at some point (usually later rather than sooner) have come to regret it. These are people who’ve dealt with million dollar accounts, have gone to Ivy League schools, who are otherwise clever and reasonable. Yet, somehow they still insist on doing it themselves.

Perhaps it’s overconfidence. We’re so good in other areas of our life that we fail to believe we can’t do something else as well. I’m guilty of the same. I used to think, “How hard can it be?” The answer is, it might not be hard, but it’s not something that can be learned overnight. I’ve also learned that it’s not worth my time to learn some of these things and I need to trust other people just like I expect them to trust me.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Benchmark Series, DIY

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