Is DIY Mentality Hurting Your Agency’s Growth?

There are two types of people. Those who are afraid of taking on new challenges, and those whose confidence in figuring things out is so strong, that having to learn—and do—whatever it is that needs to be done, doesn’t deter them.

You, as an entrepreneur, probably fall into the second category. Which is not bad… until a certain point.

Wearing multiple hats is okay in the short-term. But, trying to do it all forever can be detrimental for long-term success.

If you feel like you have too much on your plate and want to start bringing your days back to sanity, these practical steps can show you how to be more productive and more profitable without sacrificing peace of mind.

With the right systems and people, having all three at the same time is not out of the question. Here’s how to do it.

The ol’ tale of a farmer entrepreneur

A farmer, by its own, can only do so much. He, more often than not, starts off by collecting oranges and selling them to people in the town.

As time passes, though, the farmer’s going to want to start extracting juice and packaging it (and distributing it, and a bunch of things that go beyond grabbing an orange and putting it in a basket).

Similarly, some agencies start off as a single-person business. And, even if that’s not the case, you’ll probably have to spread your focus between customer service, marketing, service delivery, this and that.

I’d go as far as saying that is inevitable—unless you have (or raise) funds to hire people from the get-go, which is not that popular in agency circles.

Doing it all yourself can serve you well as an individual in the early stages of your business, but it probably won’t as your business grows.

Bringing on talented people that can work on specific tasks, and have the ability to do so in a systematic fashion, is what will allow you to build something meaningful.

Exercise: Taking inventory of your profit clock

Let’s get practical.

Here’s one of the most profitable exercises you’ll ever do.

Take a week out of your month. The whole week, be completely aware of the tasks you perform. Track how you spend your time as closely as possible.

If your time is mostly spent in front of a computer, simple web applications and extensions—like RescueTime and Timely—that can help you get an accurate picture.

At the end of a week’s’ worth of tasks, take inventory of all you’ve done. List each group of tasks and attach a value to it (e.g. the hourly rate you would pay someone else to do the same).

It would look something like this:

Then, organize them in ascending order and ask yourself, “Can I outsource/delegate this particular task?”

You’ll start to see patterns. Even if you thought you were doing yourself a favor by doing things yourself, your week could be looking so much more productive (and your business much more profitable).

Always consider whether the task impacts your profit (or if it fits your particular strengths) and start searching for ways to reallocate your time more effectively.

Be honest with yourself

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin and serial entrepreneur, in a Creative Live interview, said, “If you’re going to build a business, don’t try to do it all yourself. Find people better than yourself to run things on a day-to-day basis.”

In a conversation with Vishen Lakhiana from Mindvalley Insights, Branson expressed a similar thought:

“It’s all about finding and hiring people smarter than you, getting them to join your business and giving them good work. Then, getting out of their way and trusting them. You have to get out of the way so YOU can focus on the bigger vision. That’s important.”

Following that train of thought—and with the list above in hand—there’s an additional question that takes some humility on your end, but it can unveil the undeniable truth.

“What’s that question?” you ask.

It goes like this: “Am I the only one who can do this task, and can someone do it better than me?”

More than likely, there is. Truthfully, there always is. You just need to find them.

Easier said than done, I know. But remember the words from Mr. Branson: get smarter people to join your agency and fuel its growth. 

Fix the system not the task

This can be your biggest pitfall as an entrepreneur

It takes time to sink in. You will read this today, but you might not internalize it until you have an experience on your own.

Most of us have this almost invisible, mental script in our minds that says, “If I want something to be done right, I have to do it myself.”

Moreover, when an employee, or contractor, does things the wrong way, we try to fix it ourselves. That’s okay in the short term, but it can hurt in the long run.

Rather than fixing what they did wrong, your goal as a business owner is to find the root cause of the problem and fix it.

Was the procedure unclear and vague? Develop a new draft and test it.

Does this happen often with new employees? Maybe there need to be longer training periods — where they are made aware of these mistakes.

Is the person not qualified? And if so, how could you modify your hiring process so it doesn’t happen again?

Remember: Your job is to fix the system, not the task.

If you keep trying to be the project manager, designer, writer, accountant and salesperson of your business, it’s a matter of time before you overwhelm yourself and burn out.

The good news is that, with the right people and systems at the right time, it doesn’t have to be that way.