DIY and Fail

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

If you ever watched cheesy Saturday afternoon B movies featuring the Hydra—the many-headed mythological sea serpent—you’ve seen an image of an entrepreneur. (And definitely me on a bad day!)


Everyone knows you have to wear a lot of hats when you start your own business.  Even with a partner or two, there are more hats than heads, so entrepreneurs have to be multi-talented.  But if you want to grow the business, you’ll have to give up some of those hats.  There’s only so much one person – or two or three – can do.  When you try to do it all yourself anyway, there can be only two outcomes– either the company doesn’t grow or it fails.


When do you stop being your own boss and delegate tasks to others?  Sure, there’s value in learning every part of the business … but on an ongoing basis, you will create more value by focusing on your core expertise.  Play to your strengths rather than taking the time to overcome a weakness.


And a DIY strategy is risky – you are basically using a trial-and-error approach to solve every problem outside your knowledge sphere.  That might “work” in a large company—at least the company could absorb the cost of those errors.  For a small business, though, a significant misstep could be fatal.


Most importantly, by trying to do everything yourself, you reinforce a small-company mindset.  You will never ride like the wind until you take the training wheels off your bike.


TIP:  Don’t get bogged down in every detail of your business. 

  • Take 15 minutes to list your strengths and the value you bring to your company
  • Look at the tasks that don’t absolutely need YOU to perform them (e.g., bookkeeping)
  • Delegate less critical tasks to competent staff

For more perspective on what you can let go of, read Jim Collins’ classic article, “A ‘Stop Doing’ List.”

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