DIY or Hire an Expert?

Find the right balance of brand work you can do yourself and when you need help from outside your organization.

Wendy Ruyle 8.12.2020

My husband and I recently bought a house. When we were doing the walk-through with the inspector our realtor kept explaining how easy it would be to do the repairs ourselves. We nodded and smiled but knew in our hearts that was never going to happen.

We’re just not DIY people. Sure, we can paint a room or put up a light fixture if we have to, but do we want to? Are we the best equipped? My feelings were validated when we hired a team to replace some siding and paint the house and garage. It took six men a week and a half, working 10-hour days. And they had all the right equipment and the right training to do the job. It would have taken us months.

I think this applies to running a business as well. There are certain things you can do yourself when it comes to branding and marketing, but sometimes you get more value from hiring an expert. Here are some questions to help you decide which is right for you in different circumstances.

Can I afford an outside expert?

When you are first starting out, unless you have venture capital, the answer is probably no. You’ll need to do a little scrappy marketing yourself for a while. This isn’t such a bad thing. As you build your business, you are getting to know your brand. What is your bigger purpose? What do you do better than anyone else? You’ve got to figure these things out before you can create a substantial brand anyway. Using this startup time to get to know your unique offerings and how you want to go to market is a better use of your time and money.

Do I have the right skills and tools?

All areas of expertise require tools and training. Think about what you’ll need to spend on software and classes in order to do branding and marketing in-house. The smaller the scale, the easier it is to use low-cost tools like Canva or PowerPoint. But if you want to grow, you’re going to need more sophisticated tools to do the job more easily and consistently. Just as a painter needs a full set of extension ladders, you’ll need to invest in a more robust set of tools.

It might also take you more time than an expert to get to the right solution. Someone with years of experience in branding will get there faster because of their training and knowledge. Make sure you aren’t being penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to the time you are investing.

Do I enjoy it?

There are many tasks in running a business that I am fully capable of handling, but I just don’t enjoy them. Make sure you know where your passion lies. Would you prefer to be looking over the books or focusing on sales or just plain making the product? You’ll be more productive if you are focusing on tasks you like and delegating tasks you dislike to experts in their field.

Are my talents required elsewhere?

As your company grows, your skills will be needed in figuring out the vision for the future and managing the organization to get where you want to go. Don’t get caught up in one aspect of the operations and forget about the bigger picture. An expert in branding can help you focus on the 10,000-foot view versus the minutia.

Think about the life cycle of your business. There are times to DIY and times to reach out for help. Be honest with yourself and your team about your needs and capabilities and you’ll achieve the right balance.

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