Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Part Two: DIY vs. Hiring: One size does NOT fit all

I hope you checked out my last post that introduced my series about marketing for mompreneurs. Now that we know we're all on the same page with our marketing basics, let's talk about how to accomplish getting your business out there to the world. I find that one of the most challenging parts of being a Mompreneur is knowing when to DIY and when to hire someone else to do the job. If you're like me, you may want to be a DIY'er. We'd all like to add that to our list of titles we carry. I think that because we're Moms, we're programmed to feel like if we don't do it ourselves, somehow it won't get done or up to our standards. Believe me, I'm the guiltiest of them all when it comes to trying to DIY. I'm also blessed to have a husband who is equally guilty. I've tried it all, from literally building a retail store interior with a hammer, nails, and some paint, to avoiding hiring legal counsel because I could research things on the internet and make my own, smart decisions about business situations.

It wasn't until I heard one client's perspective on DIYing that made me reconsider my DIY stance. He said, "I'm not a designer, why should I try to design my business cards when you'll do it so much better?" Something about what he said sat with me and my new perspective on trying to do it all to pinch a penny is this: there is a time to try to save money and a time to hire someone. You have to find that balance for your personality and for your business. You'll find that your stance on DIY vs. not will change as your business grows.

Many of us want to know exactly what's going on with everything in our businesses and that often feeds our urge to DIY. We can't stand the thought of someone else taking control over a piece of the business you're working so hard to develop and grow. But, let me pose a question for you...Do you REALLY need to know how to do whatever it is that you think you should do yourself, or can you hire someone else to do it and save yourself the time, energy, and worry that comes along with DIY. You have to weigh the time you spend researching, making mistakes, and doing it for yourself against the time you could be spending finding new clients...what is the opportunity cost of NOT hiring someone? How much money am I missing out on because my time was spent doing this instead of making money? Another wise thought I've heard is how much time do you spend actually doing the things you're best at? We spend so much time doing the things we're not very good or mediocre at that we're not really using our talents to the best of their abilities. Think about how much you could actually accomplish if you focused almost entirely about what you're best at and let other people handle the things you were only "ok" at. What accomplishments you could make!

Having said that, choosing to do something ourselves usually stems from a lack of funds to hire someone else to do it. That's most definitely the case when just starting out by bootstrapping. In these cases, it might be best to start small - hire someone for only a few hours or for only the most difficult of tasks so you can make more revenue that can then buy more time and more help.

I have a personal bias and expectation for myself to learn as much as I can. I'm genuinely interested in all of the aspects of running a business and want to learn about them. However, once I've learned the basics, I don't need to keep doing it and fumbling my way through the more advanced things (been guilty of that far too many times).

My point is...It's important to know what are your strengths, weaknesses, and what things you genuinely want to learn about. When you decide to hire someone to do the job, realize that one size does not fit all. Just because Web Firm A sells a package for $10,000 dollars does not mean that ALL web packages are $10,000 or that you need to buy one that expensive. Nor does it mean that a $200 web package is going to give you what you need to make your business successful. Remember that every service you could purchase out there has some other alternative, so it's important to evaluate your options and do what you can to learn exactly what you're buying so you can make the most educated decision possible.

So if you're going to hire someone: Make a list of the top 3-5 things that are important to you when finding a business to hire and what results you wish to see. Then, search for 2 or 3 business that meet these criteria to compare and seek information about their products and services. It's likely that one will stand out as a clear fit with your business and your needs. Don't get wrapped into their "schpeals." They are going to convince you that they have exactly what you need, but the best businesses are the ones that aren't afraid to tell you they MAY NOT be a good fit for you and are very clear about who they work best with.

And for those of you who continue to go the DIY route and end up banging your head against a wall more times than you should, challenge yourself to think smarter and use your time more wisely. Make use of chat forums and ask questions quickly, rather than spend hours trying to figure it out for yourself before you ask for help. Sometimes just walking away from something and coming back later can do wonders for approaching the problem with a set of fresh eyes.

And if you Mompreneurs haven't figured it out yet, let me write it on the wall. Running your own business, raising a family, and being a super-woman isn't easy. As far as business goes, the markting piece can really be a humm-dinger. But don't worry. We're in this together, you and me. Check back again, when we'll talk about the professional design process.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

From one DIY'er to another - THANK YOU! This is something many of us mompreneurs struggle with and it's encouraging to hear that we need to let others do their work so we can have more time for ours:-) I would also like to add that we can't be afraid to put our expectations in writing - yes, a contract! This is something many entrepreneurs or solo-preneurs tend to overlook. But whenever you hire or outsource, put your expectations in writing. It will be worth the time. I've learned this lesson the hard way:-)