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Brendan Egan

10 DIY Projects You Shouldn't Take On As A Small Business Owner

Since our previous post about ma and pa business owners doing their own web design and ending up with absolutely awful websites ended up being so popular, I thought I would take some time to put together a post dedicated to 10 DIY projects that you should NEVER take on by yourself and also include a little story about why you shouldn’t take on these projects (and yes, these stories are real world experiences that I’ve either gone through being the DIY enthusiast that I am or that I have had to deal with through clients that have that DIY spirit!)

Let The Countdown Begin!

10) DIY Handy Work

I have a certain shop in mind that the owners refuse to hire a handy man for.  I know this shop does quite well so they have the funds to hire a handy man they just choose to do things their self.  Well, let’s just say they decided to do a little DIY plumbing and ended up with a completely flooded shop–causing thousands in damage.

9) DIY Graphics

I went to an office that advertises in their front window.  Instead of hiring someone to design a nice banner and graphics for their store front, they decided to print things on their black and white printer and literally tape them to the windows with clear tape.  I guess at least they used clear tape instead of duct tape…

8 ) DIY Business Cards

Don’t you just REALLY want to do business with someone when they hand you a business card their 7th grader printed out at home with smudge marks, crooked edges, and that strange logo/icon/picture that you’re really unsure why is there?  It’s like $25 for professional business cards these days, come on now!

7) DIY Business Attire

Okay–maybe this shouldn’t fall under the DIY category–but when you’re going to a business meeting please don’t wear that suit from 1970 with the shoes that don’t match it, a short sleeve button down shirt, and that tie from your great great grandfather.  I’m no fashionista but I do at least realize this is 2011…

6) DIY Taxes

Okay I’m guilty of this one, but I at least have some back ground in finance and accounting.  If you don’t know the first thing about taxes, you’ll probably save A LOT of money by just hiring an accountant. I won’t even get started with the stories I’ve heard in this department because they could go on for pages and pages and….

5) DIY Videos

Having your neighbor hold your camcorder and record you in your kitchen talking about your business isn’t going to make anyone become a customer.  In fact, if this is the video you have I would really say you’re much better off without any video than one that looks like it was a 4th grade school project.  Video is an awesome tool for online marketing and educating your customers, but only when it’s done right and looks polished and professional.

4) DIY Office Furniture

This may sound off the wall but I remember I was in an office once with a plywood desk that was stained (or they attempted to stain it at least) and this wasn’t just some run down random person—this was a very successful individual who could probably buy a desk made from gold.  If you have clients come into your office, at least make sure it is furnished halfway decently and you at least have functional furniture.

3) DIY Computer Templates

Okay some people are better at this than others, but if you aren’t good at it don’t do it.  That envelope with the address in size 5 font and on the wrong side of the envelope isn’t impressing anyone.  Or that stationary that looks like you literally cut and pasted things onto it.  Or the invoice that has the same invoice number on invoices from 1999 and 2009 because it isn’t setup right.  Just have someone help set things up for you if you don’t know how–this one isn’t rocket science and it can make things not only look more professional but also more functional.

2) DIY SEO

I have about 5,000 stories of this gone horribly wrong.  Like the guy who thought putting his keywords everywhere on his website would get him ranked and then he calls me asking why Google banned him.  Or the guy who went on a website to buy 100,000 links for $5 and thought he was going to get some sort of quality work done for $0.00005 per link.  SEO really isn’t something that can be done on a DIY basis unless you’ve received some very detailed consulting from someone, and even if this is the case you really probably don’t have the time to properly optimize your website both on page and off.

1) DIY Web Design

This is STILL my number 1 pet peeve and one of the biggest things I look at when deciding if I should do business with someone–and trust me I’m not the only one.  So many people tell me they do business with us because they like our website and it’s functionality.  There’s a few things we look at when deciding how good a website is– layout, design, color schemes, call to action, SEO, coding, functionality, and content.  All of these things are equally important and without just one of them you will end up with a site that just doesn’t work and isn’t work it’s weight in water.  Trust me–web design, much like SEO, is an investment that will pay for itself over and over and over again.

Well that wraps up our list of 10 DIY things every small business owner should avoid– if you have a funny story or comment to share with us about any of these points feel free to post it in the comments section below!