DIY. At Your Own Risk.

Time IS Money. Period.

You either have one or the other – and if you’re hella lucky, both. The problem is most people – especially small business owners, start-ups trying to launch – have neither.

Something’s Gotta Give

What usually gives for most struggling SMBs: The Plan. It’s why so many never get off the ground.

If you don’t have money, then you have to put in time. I doubt you learned about content marketing, R&D, HR in kindergarten; back to school for you. Get ready to Google, get ready to learn Accounting, sit down and bring a lunch as you learn WordPress and HTML and everything the web can teach you about SEO. You’ll be at the computer for the next year, no bathroom breaks.

Maybe you’ve blown your wad on the lawyer or the accountant or finance guys? That’s important, but not everything. What’s the key part of any business plan? Ask Groupon, Facebook, Twitter –  rhymes with ‘the how you’ll make money’ part.

Do It Yourself – NOT Alone

A friend tells me about another friend, bamboozled into a $150 web hosting contract. A. Month.

I thought, “wait, people are that dumb?” and then remembered that while I can’t find them, suckers are born every minute. They buy into bullshit all the time.

Luckily this person was able to cancel in time, but what of all those other small business owners out there who get roped into websites and phone book ads and overpaying for business cards (peeve!!) and all the other crap they THINK they need?!

  • You need a plan. You need an advisor.
  • You need to market yourself, your business, your service.
  • You need to see the big picture, know who your customers are (and aren’t) – and what’s in it for them, and how to say reach them.

In order to do that, you need someone who knows how to communicate.

I’m not saying you have to pay someone else to do it all; of course you’ll be doing a ton of work yourself. Look at risk vs. reward, what’s worth your time and what’s worth knowing. Learning SEO and web strategy and CRM can only make you a better business manager, keep you from being sold a case of snake oil. Learning copywriting or how to use Adobe Illustrator, not so much. Find someone who’ll skip the bullshit, stick to the marketing, the business essentials.


Find someone who can help you ask – and answer – the right questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. You’ve got a story to tell. And if you don’t even know what it is or how to say it, then your first move – find someone who can.

Find someone who can explain the difference between a ‘cheap’ website vs. one that’s professional and affordable. Talk with a professional who can help figure out what you should DIY; what you can’t, and what you shouldn’t attempt on your own. (If I had a dollar for every shitacular ad or brochure design made with PowerPoint and stolen web images that I was supposed to use/cleanup, I could by my iPhone 5.)

Take that budget you were going to waste on the world’s worst direct mail list that was a great deal because it was so cheap, or paying some agency to ‘blow up’ your social media web presence with automated crap, and hire a professional. The Pros Knows hows to get you more bang for your buck, spend less to get more, saving both time and money.

What’s in it for you? Doing it yourself, not alone.

Photo caption: how ’bout those LSU Tigers, a DIY R2 D2 beer keg?!

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10 thoughts on “DIY. At Your Own Risk.

  1. Good afternoon, Davina.

    Goodness me, your post packed a punch! I haven’t had chance to read the comments yet, but I will.

    May I just add one little thing that all business owners ought to know about, but often don’t – and it could save them a bomb, please?

    Google+ Local Business Page – free; linked to Google maps; comes up on most searches before the businesses own website (except where the searcher knows the biz URL or name); focused on info that searcher is after, rather than what a web designer thinks looks good; customisable to a point with own pics, info, video, text, blah-de-blah-de blah. Why cough up buckets load of money, when you can have the one that’ll get your customers, clients, guests and their mates complete with a road map and streetview to show what your biz looks like?

    And I’ve seen a couple of businesses that have 360 degree virtual tours of their businesses inside embedded on the Business Page.

    Oh, and did I mention FREE!

    Kind regards,
    Linda recently posted..Another Attack On The Austrian Appetite – The International Insult!

    1. You’re tempting me Linda… I’m on G+ but since I’m a virtual business of one, don’t have a page. My G+ and Twitter and LinkedIn are enough. But for most I know the value is there.

      And a big fat WORD to thinking about what and how and why people search. They’re not looking for you, your solutions even – they don’t know it; what they know is they have a need, a want, a problem. So what businesses have is an opportunity; but instead they want to WE – we do this, we sell that rather than ‘You. this is for you, this can save you, help you.’

      But of course – a business will have to either take the time or spend the money to know this, to learn this. Thanks for feedback.

  2. For me, the problem with being a copywriter, even an “award-winning” copywriter, is that anyone can write.

    They may have no idea how to compelling state value in relation to the customers needs and desires, while positioning against competition. But they can write.

    Hence, I’m a consulting who offers marketing management and content development. THAT’S something they don’t know how to do. But I’m still basically a copywriter.
    Barrett Rossie recently posted..Taking Social Media By The Horns, Where You Live

    1. Read a good post the other day, about content development and what it means to be a writer. I can watch all the Food Network I want and cook everyday.. but I am very much not a cook, certainly not a chef. And it’s funny – everyone assumes they can do it (or design or a host of other everyday things).. but then the #1 issue in any company is almost always communications. FWIW.

  3. You make great points all the way through Davina. I just remembered a comment I left a million years ago at Danny Brown’s place, something to the effect of… For the struggling entrepreneur, capital is the most valuable commodity. For the successful entrepreneur, time is. I actually don’t know anyone that has both, but I hear they exist. 🙂

    It’s a tension to know when you should trade one for the other.

    I think it is important to determine your true hourly rate (not what you bill, but what your time actually costs) to know when hiring someone is worth it. Of course, that only works for fields where you can DIY without making a mess. For fields where you have no ability (like your web / marketing examples above), you need professional help no matter what, because you can’t do it yourself, and it costs a lot more to fix it than to get it right the first time.
    Adam recently posted..Is Great Customer Service Enough?

    1. I made almost the exact same point in a #soloPR chat Adam – fixing someone else’s mistakes will surely cost more. I hear of the ‘time’ thing too – think it has to do w/ eschewing TV, vacations, showers and other eccentricities. Which brings me to a quip learned in high school – “if you don’t have time to get it right the first time, when will you have a chance to do it over?”

      Circles back to time/money = cost of doing business and no one has both. So there are trade-offs and as always, a matter of finding the right people, the right tools; know what to outsource, what to inhouse – all working together to make the most of those limited, valuable commodities. FWIW.

  4. Great stuff Davina! I once almost fainted when a friend of mine told me she paid over $30,000 for a simple little website. It was a long time ago, and 30K was reasonable– for a good, complex, complete and strategic website. This thing was almost like a template. Couldn’t have taken more than two days to put together.

    I could have really used $30k at the time. 🙂

    Everyone needs a go-to expert. I that find most solo marketing consultants (ahem…) are very generous with sharing information.

    Didn’t the man once talk about thing you know that you know, vs. things you know that you don’t know?
    Barrett Rossie recently posted..For Marketing: Dump The “We” Questions; Ask About “Them”

    1. We are very generous .. just look at our blogs. But the catch is you gotta put in the time to search and to read; not everyone does. And we’ve reached this point, I get so many clients blindly paying for Xor Y, but lowball me at every time – when I coulda saved so much money on X and Y, we could do Z as well.

      I do template based sites – tweaked and customized – would not dream of charging that much. Even walking someone thru WordPress; now a custom theme is different but even then you’re talking a lot of DIY. And don’t get me started on the hefty monthly retainers for publicity, people blasting out crap to pubs and media that’d never be interested.. oy.

      I go back to time – kick the tires, learn a little about what you’re buying. I mean, I don’t think I’ve booked a hotel or ordered almost anything w/out a little research. We really should do the same for our biz – or be willing to pay those we trust to do it for us. FWIW.

  5. Regardless of how much ahead we think we get in this sector with our own learnings, there are hundreds if not thousands of companies, prospects and even current clients who haven’t a clue how to do what we do. BUT…they think they can. Therein lies the problem, and we practitioners here about the bamboozled stories over and over and take the blame as an industry.

    The first lesson a business owner should heed is to know enough to be dangerous and ask the right questions of the counselor knocking on the door. No has to be an expert, but darn it…caveat emptor.

    Appreciate link love, Queen D!
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..Contest Now Open: Win IT Help Migrating to Feedblitz

    1. I get it all the time and it’s hard. I’m lowballed on my services but then… they’ll buy into what someone else sells, pay for crazy SEO. This after I explain it but b/c they see me as ‘just’ PR or design. I am not a web guru, certainly not a programmer but I do know whereof I speak. Think of all the ‘other’ areas we know – b/c we have to, b/c integration and working together is in fact the only way this works.

      Then there’s the time. Jayme you know probably better than I that all this info is but a few Googles a way. Your SMB blog and countless others have this kind of info but alas, everyone seems to want write one (small) check and think it’s done. They rush through it all, not knowing the hour or two they ‘spend’ in research and smart DIY can save them more later. Sigh.

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