Don’t Let DIY Become DYI in Your Small Business

I am sure you are familiar with the acronym, DIY, standing for “do-it-yourself.” But you are probably not familiar with the new acronym I just created, DYI, standing for “do-yourself-in.” One of the biggest mistakes you can make in business is to rely on the Internet to teach you everything you need to know to achieve your business goals, and then try to do complete tasks you are not qualified to tackle. Whether it's making products, designing a logo or website, or learning how to create and defend your brand, the Internet can teach you a lot, but it cannot teach you everything. It can also teach you a lot of things that are just plain wrong.


Here is a quick word of caution for you: don't let DIY (do-it-yourself) become DYI (do-yourself-in).

DYI happens when you do something in your business that you could delegate to someone else, but you are confident that you can do a good job in a reasonable amount of time.

The “good job” and “reasonable amount of time” parts are key.

If you cannot do a good job, you are doing DYI

If you cannot take product photos that make your brand look good, you should hire a photographer. These days, you don't have to spend a lot of money, especially with sites like Product Photography where you can get a product shot on a white background for $60. Depending on how many images you need, you can get that price down to as low as $24 per image.

If you cannot design your own website, hire a designer. If you perform quality work on certain aspects of your site, then do that to save cash, but hire someone else to handle the rest of it.

If you cannot do a good job in a reasonable amount of time, you are doing DYI

If you can do a good job, the next issue you have to consider is whether you can accomplish the task in a reasonable amount of time.

Recently, I spoke with a Maker who has a lovely line of products and her product photos are gorgeous. Her husband has designed some really nice websites in the past, so she has asked him to design her site. He agreed, but after five months, she still has no website.

Her site will look great if her husband designs it, but it will not be completed in a reasonable amount of time. My advice to her was to either give her husband a deadline, or simply hire someone so the site can launch by a certain date.

The same logic applies to everything else. Whether it's product label design, a new logo, a website, or a cover graphic for your Facebook business page, pay attention to what you are losing in terms of professionalism and/or time if you DIY.

If the project will not look good when you finish, or, even if it looks presentable, you'll have to pull your hair out for years to get it that way — all the while making no money to speak of — you will DYI.

There will always be times when you can find step-by-step instructions on how to do something yourself. When that happens, be happy, get it done, and keep on pounding.

But when the information you uncover is outside your current capabilities, or would take an inordinate amount of time for you to learn do, it's time to change your “how to do XYZ myself” search into “who can I pay to do XYZ for me?”

In each instance, it boils down to a business choice, and you as the leader of your business must make it.

When choosing between DIY and paying someone to do it for you, don't let DIY become DYI.


Have you ever let DIY become DYI? What happened? What valuable lessons did you learn that would help others avoid the same fate? Are you struggling now with whether or not to DIY in a particular area? Feel free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.