Should You Do It Yourself (DIY) or Pay the Experts (PTE)?

It’s the big mistake that we have the power to fix.  But it’s also the kind of thing that we could spend a lifetime getting wrong—without intervention.  When should you do it yourself (DIY) and when should you pay the experts (PTE) to do it for you?

question yourself

Small business owners are the kings and queens of creating something out of nothing, of learning every skill that they have to learn in order to move their businesses forward.  Cash-strapped individuals with great ideas have been known to be highly innovative—but that doesn’t have tp mean doing it all by yourself.

When is it time to grow the team?  Here’s a simple reality check.

What are you doing?

If you are designing your own graphics when your skill set lies in writing or negotiations or product design, then you may need to re-evaluate your efforts. If you are writing your own marketing copy when you excel at graphic design or customer service, then you may need to add a writer to the team to maximize your time and effort.

How are you doing it?

If you’re creating lowbrow solutions that make your company look like a hobby instead of a business, then you may need to upgrade the team. Just as a weak product is bad for business, weak visuals and weak content hurt your bottom line because they fail to attract the right clients.

Does your current system cost you money or make you money?

If the expert charges $300 to create a custom WordPress website but it takes you 300 hours to do it yourself, then you have to factor in the cost of your time to see which option offers the true savings.

Keep this in mind: Hiring an expert doesn’t mean that you stop learning or that you turn your brain off. It means that you have more time

  1. for the parts of the business that you excel at and where you cannot be replaced,
  2. to further develop your communication skills, because that’s a crucial ability for every business leader,
  3. to spearhead the overall strategy behind the business, because no one will care about the big picture as much as you do.

What time is it?

Sometimes it costs too much to DIY. And sometimes it costs too much to PTE. It’s up you, the business leader, to know the time involved and how to make the most of it.

Image from Kalim/Shutterstock


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

6 Reactions
  1. Great post, Jamillah.

    I use three questions almost every day to challenge my own “DIY” (and share them regularly with other biz owners):

    1) How do I make more money in LESS time? (How do I increase my yield per hour?)

    2) Is this (whatever I’m doing right now) the highest and best use of my time? If no…

    3) How do I do this for the last time?

    To determine the highest and best use, I ask myself how much do I want to make a year, then divide that into an hourly rate. If I’m doing something below my hourly rate, it’s likely not the highest and best use of my time. What else could I be doing with that time if I handed that activity off to someone else?

  2. Hi Jamillah,

    Awesome article! The concept of DIY versus hiring someone else is a something I’m continually teaching to new and prospective clients. I’m all for learning new skills and strengthening the ones you have, but sometimes, it is just a better use of your time to hire out the tasks that will hinder more than they will help your progress.

  3. I love that you included the point about paying someone or using 100 of your own hours. Way too many small business owners don’t put a value on their time and think if they DIY they are getting it for free. Not hardly!

  4. I wish I had back just 1/100th of all the hours I’ve spent on DIY projects doing stuff that (1) took me much longer than it would have taken a professional and (2) didn’t get done as well. My business would be further along. 🙂

    – Anita

  5. I agree with Denise. Many people do not realize the time they put in has value and they end up losing out. As a business consultant and an owner/entrepreneur, I have seen the pro’s and con’s of both DIY and PTE.

  6. Jamillah: Thanks for pointing out the so called “opportunity costs” (I am not really believing in this concept, but I thought it would be a fun play with words! 😉 ) with DIY, instead of PTE.

    With the WordPress example, I am working with a talented co-worker / business partner who is becoming a wizard on WordPress! 🙂 He bought a great suite called Genesis Framework by StudioPress. For my own sites, I am using a great web tool called Squarespace. I invested some money in giving the logotype / blog banner work to a fine artist / editorial cartoonist, who created some fabulous artwork (instead of me fiddling around…).

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