Money Saving Tips for the Small Business: DIY Projects

With the world of the internet, the Do-it-yourself world seems much easier and cost effective to utilize. This is not always the case. There are times that something is simple enough for you to do on your own and can save a lot of time and money. Some tasks sound cheaper to tackle on your own but can run up a huge tab to do correctly. Choosing to do something on your own can be a plus, but if not done correctly or professionally it can cost you in the long run. Virtually anything can be done on your own. If it is possible for a person to create it, then you can do it on your own. That does not mean that the work you do is up to par or done correctly. Many tasks should only be handled by professionals, experienced hobbyist, or at least someone that knows what they are doing. All of this may be a little confusing and even overwhelming, so how do you know what to do on your own? The answer to this is something that only you can know and involves a lot of self-knowledge.

The first step in the decision is to figure out what you need done. You must look at the different things that want for your business. It is just like looking at a map. You must first know where you are going before you can find out how to get there. Once you figure out what you want for your business, you can choose how to get there. Whether it is a website, ad campaign, accounting documents, taxes, graphic design, or anything else that you may desire, you have to figure out what is lacking.

Once you know what you need, you will have to look at your own skills. Someone like myself that is not too good at accounting, would have to look at the different types of software on the market and seriously look at whether I understand it or not. Likely, it would involve some outsourcing. This is the same logic behind any process. For someone that is very tech savvy, designing a website may be a possibility. Someone that cannot understand how to use a word processor may have a more difficult time figuring this out. Many people out there try to tackle some jobs that may sound easy and end up behind schedule and over budget trying to fix their mistakes. I have had several clients come to me to fix their websites because they read a Dreamweaver for dummies book and tried to create their own site. This adds to their costs and wastes their time. Most of the time, I have to erase all of what they have done and start from the beginning. They have now wasted many hours and have a $200 software suite they cannot use. You must know your limitations before you begin. Many things sound simple but in reality, they are not. One very accurate test you can use is to research how-to guides on the internet. If you can easily read all the way through the guide and completely understand each step, then you would probably be able to accomplish the task. Another good idea is to use the library. This way you can read some how-to books for no cost. The same theory applies to the how-to books. If you understand it completely and there is no “deer in the headlights” moments while reading it over, you can probably tackle the project.

The next step in the decision is a price estimate. There are some times that a DIY project is actually more expensive than outsourcing. This may sound odd, but a company that specializes in a certain service or product can buy in bulk and offer the product or service for the same price if not lower than the cost you will incur. This is usually more evident in the construction or services fields. The McDonald’s scenario shows this very simply. McDonald’s purchases thousands of pounds of ground beef daily, where as you may buy about 2 pounds a day. You would pay around $0.98 per pound where they would pay around $0.25 a pound. Therefore, a quarter pound patty for them is pennies, where it is near $0.25 for you. This is the reason why it is the same price or cheaper for you to outsource some of the functions of your business instead of tackling a DIY project. One thing that many people overlook in the cost estimate is their time. This can be rather steep when you figure in what you could be doing instead of the project. Some times, it is necessary to do some of the projects on your own and many times can be cheaper for the simpler items. It is also the reason that some DIY projects actually cost more than hiring someone else. If you have a very busy schedule and several clients that you would be ignoring while accomplishing the project, you are actually loosing business instead of saving money. This can make the costs climb rapidly.

After you have seriously looked into all of these aspects of the DIY world, you can effectively make a good decision on whether to accomplish the task on your own. I would advise many people to take a serious look at their own abilities. In my line of work, I see several people that try to do things on their own and end up paying much more than they can afford to correct the mistakes. There are many things that are scrutinized by your customers. A low budget website or image can often alter someone’s opinions of your business before they even meet you. If your ad campaign, website, or logo looks like a preschool child designed it, you may loose clients unless you run a daycare. Professionalism means a lot in any business. Your customers want assurance that you are a legitimate business operated in a professional manner. This adds to the comfort, respect, and trust factors that the public places in your company. A DIY gone bad can wipe all that out in a matter of seconds. Do not let that discourage you from tackling some of the aspects of your business alone. You probably cannot afford to outsource everything and you likely have some skills that you can bring to the table. Just be careful in what do and always think it out.

Here are some very common tasks that are easy and will save you money:

-flyers

-graphic design

-coupons

-accounting

-spreadsheets

-databases

-interior design

-sales displays

-human resources

-software

When choosing a software for your small business, it is important to carefully consider all the necessary factors first before buying one. Some tools may not be applicable to the nature of your business while other may. For instance, is CRM applicable to your business? CRM is an acronym for customer relationship management.

The list goes on and is different for everyone out there. All of us have different skills, strengths, and weaknesses. All you have to do is know yourself and your limitations.

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James

James

James Scott is a general news and feature writer of Untitled Magazine. Prior joining the company, he previously worked as a senior writer in different publishing companies in New York.