The Real Cost of DYIng Your Business

Blog Why DIY Can cost you more than you think

Think your free-time is free? Think again…

Let me preface this by stating that I love Starbucks’ Chai Latte and I am sure is great place to work, or so I have heard. I guess I will be using it as an example because it is a widely known brand, so we can all relate.

You and I are creative entrepreneurs right? We are business owners, creatives who want to stop being treated like our art, sculptures, photography is a HOBBY.  Am I correct?

So my question to you is: why do we insist in treating ourselves and our time as such.

Let me illustrate what I mean with painting a picture for you. Say you work at Starbucks, (maybe you are learning the robes to open your own barista place). So you go on working for an hourly rate, and you are learning a lot about coffee, customer services, running a coffee place in general. GREAT!

Months go by and you decide to take a bakery class, because you also want to sell pastries at your new place. You tell your boss  you would like to take a few hours every day from work to go to the course. He has no issues with it. Sweet! You are on your way…

But here’s the thing. All those hours (commuting to and from the course, plus the actual 1 hour  baking class) all those hours are hours you wont get paid right? You may say, —well I am gaining a new skill—, and that’s fine, but your heart is truly in the coffee business NOT in the baking business. However, you THINK you need to learn to bake on top of learning how to run a business on top of learning to be a good barista. Wait! Didn’t you JUST wanted to open up a coffee place?

Gay Hendricks in his book “The Big Leap,” writes about the “Zone of Genius” which is that place where you just don’t feel like work is work, that thing you can do for hours on end without noticing it. And while I think we should all strive to be in that zone 100% of the time,  I think we also need to be realistic. We can only aim to be there if we have all the systems and processed in place to be profitable, meaning we get paid for doing THAT thing we LOVE to do.

The question here is not whether or not we should do what we love, the issue here is that IF we are doing what we love but NOT getting paid for it, we do not have a business we have a hobby and I want all of us to get out of THAT ZONE!

Reaching our 'zone of genius' does not mean working for free. Know your worth $$$ Click To Tweet

We need to start treating our time,  especially our free time as our most precious commodity. BECAUSE OUR TIME IS MONEY

Now, trust me, I am guilty of this myself! I can spend hours taking and editing pictures and I would LOVE to do nothing but that all day long. But I simply cannot afford to do that because my business does not consist of getting paid solely to take pictures and edit them. I also have other streams of revenues, plus marketing, plus networking, etc etc etc all those business things that we all need to take care of to make sure the business keeps on running.

We are all smart cookies here right? And yet, I still see a lot of creative entrepreneurs, specially newbies falling into this trap.  If I had a penny for every time I have heard one of these after a consultation call:  “Oh, but you realize that I can find all this out on my own on youtube FOR FREE, right?” Or, “I think I am going to get started on my own and then I will hire you to finish my website”. You get the idea…

That’s all fine and dandy, for me that means that they are just not ready to work with me and that’s is just fine.  But the truth deep inside is NOT that they can’t afford to invest in their brand or website . NO!  To me all those ‘excuses’ YES to me those are excuses are symptoms of other more deeper issues that people need to resolve before I KNOW they are ready to get their work done. Fear of failure, fear of success (yeap that’s a thing too) not feeling good enough, (the who Am I to start a business syndrome) etc, etc, etc.

All am saying here is IF we want to start or get our business off the ground WE have to realize how we are sabotaging our own success, and to me this is one of those sneaky ways in which we do it. By not acknowledging that our ‘free’ time is actually not free.

A year ago I took a huge leap and invested in a high price point online business course. It was a stretch for me. Then a few months after that I hired a copywriter to help me with my website’s copy. Again, it was a HUGE stretch for me. Do I have a ‘6 figure’ business? No, not yet. Do I work from a remote island? No, not yet. Did I buy my second home in the Caribbean? No, not yet. But I can say that I have made huge progress from where I was about a year ago, plus the exposure and support I have received from the online communities I belong to are priceless.

I heard someone once said ‘Start before you are ready’ and that phrase has stayed with me since then. My interpretation for it is ‘If you want to be pro, you have to go pro’ and to me, that translate into doing things right from the beginning. I did the DIY, the “I can figure it out on my own” and to be honest, it think I would be so much farther along today in my business if I had ‘gone pro’ from the start.

Lets get practical here for a moment…

If you currently have a traditional job, a 9-5, a corporate, whatever you want to call it. How much do you make? If you are no longer working there, how much did you make per hour? If you don’t know it this is how you can calculate it. Divide your monthly salary by 21.76 (average working hours in a month) divide that by 8 and you have your hourly rate. Write it somewhere and remember that EVERY time you spend one hour doing something else that is NOT bringing you AT LEAST that much income is an hour you are NOT bringing in income to you and your business.

Thinking your free time is 'free'? Think again, learn how to calculate your free time Click To Tweet

So next time you want to ‘google-it’, or ‘youtube-it’ ask yourself two questions?

  1. What would be the ROI (return on investment) in this case your time if I spend X amount of hours doing (enter name of activity here)?
  2. Will it bring me closer to my goal (bring me clients, a sales, a collaboration) in a reasonable amount of time (and I would enter a time frame here).

These two questions will help you gauge in a more tangible way how much ‘free’ time you have. And will get you into a more professional mindset in regards with your time.

I use this simple framework every time I am deciding whether or not to embark in any activity that I know it will require me to learn new skills, or take more than a few minutes. This way I can make an informed decision based on my priorities, work load and financial needs. And this also helps me to almost always come up with the decision that it may be more economical to invest in hiring someone who knows about x,y,z than spending so much more time doing it myself. Because lets face it we cannot be experts in all areas and THAT’s OK!

So, going back to the Starbucks example. Isn’t better to open up your barista bar and hire someone or buy from the best baker in town? Who said you had to be the jack of all trades to be successful? Yes, maybe you can learn a few things about pastries and cakes and muffins and scones, but be honest with yourself about your skills, your commitment and most importantly to the cost to you and your business.

My challenge for you today is:

1) Create a list of the things you know you need to get done for your business.

  • Write your website copy?
  • get your website branding in place?
  • plan your website?
  • write a blog?

2) Go down the list and rate them from 1 to 10 (1 being I know nothing about it, 10 I can do this in my sleep)

3) Pick those which are between 6-10 and break them down into actionable steps for example:

Get your branding in place:

  • create a moodboard,
  • create a logo,
  • pick colors,

create a brand style guide, etc,

Once you have them listed do the same rating exercise again, and again and again until you are left with a very realistic overview of what needs to happen and what YOU can actually accomplished and what you need help with.

And finally! GET HELP.

There’s no shame in seeking support from other creatives to do things that either you don’t know how to do, or simply you don’t want to spend your time because your have realized that it won’t make sense for you at this time. How much will it actually cost you? vs how much will you pay someone else?

Also look for systems, procedures, or even software that can also help you take the load off some of those tasks that you have listed above. I promise it will make a world of difference.

Ok, I think this has gone long enough! I hope this little HUGE tip was helpful to put you ‘FREE TIME” into perspective!

Now is your turn, tell me what things are you going to tackle on your own and which ones are you going to seek help with?

Remember you can always get in touch with me via email or by dropping a comment down below!

As always with love and respect!



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