Taming Tech-Age Troubles: When NOT to DIY

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For small business owners, “do it yourself” (DIY) tends to be the default when it comes to managing a business. After all, budgets are tight (or completely nonexistent) and we want to keep an eye on where we’re spending money. Taking care of certain business tasks on your own is typically fine, but some things are best left to the professionals.

How do you know if you’re better off hiring someone else to take care of an issue?

  • It will be more time-consuming to complete it yourself.
  • It requires a higher level of technical skill than you possess.
  • The task stresses you out.

Out-of-the-Ordinary Computer Issues

You’re probably comfortable installing updates when your computer prompts you to, but if your computer’s gone wonky, you need to back up data, or want to install software, you might be better off calling the pros.

Companies like Geek Squad offer affordable computer troubleshooting and assistance, and can remove viruses and spyware or help you set up a wireless network. Prices start at under $200, and you have the option for remote assistance.

Graphic or Web Design

When I first formed my marketing company, I was convinced if I understood the basics of using Photoshop, I could design my logo and website. Ha. Twenty hours later, I was a sweating mess, cussing at my computer. (There’s a clue you shouldn’t DIY!) Now I leave the design work to professionals who can complete what took me days in just a matter of hours. My site and branding look more professional, and not as if a five-year-old created them.

Hundreds of graphic design and web design companies will be more than happy to share their portfolios for your perusal; pick the one whose style best reflects your desired design. Or go with a crowdsourcing design site like 99designs. You enter the specs on what you’re looking for (modern-style logo using green and blue) and dozens of designers will submit options. You choose the one you like best and pay a flat fee (typically under $500).

WordPress or Website Issues

While plenty of easy-to-use content management systems (CMS) exist to help even the least tech-savvy entrepreneur create a website, sometimes issues crop up that fall outside your scope. I know I’ve had trouble editing WordPress themes to change the color or remove a sidebar. The danger of DIY here is you can screw up your website, which won’t help you attract new visitors or clients!

Fantasktic solves WordPress issues like those pesky 404 pages, as well as assists with migrating your website to a new host, for $99 per issue. Not bad, considering how much time you’d waste trying to fix it yourself.

Social Media Management

I know plenty of small business owners who are adept at updating their Twitter and Facebook pages. Kudos to them. But I know others who either only update once a month, or have given up completely. Let me be clear: You need a presence on social media, whether or not you “get it.” If your customers are spending time on social sites, you need a regularly-updated profile wherever they hang out.

That being said, if you’re not the best person for the job, it’s worth the expense to hire a social media professional or firm to take over the management of your accounts. With a little help from someone with social media savvy, you stay “top of mind” with your followers while you build brand recognition online.

Accounting

Again, some business owners have no issue handling this task, but for those with a bigger staff or more complex accounting concerns, doing it themselves can prove disastrous—and could even lead to an audit. Keeping detailed accounting records of expenses and income is a requirement for every business, so if you’re not able to juggle your own finances, find someone who can.

The idea of hiring a small business accountant might make you cringe, but many work on demand, meaning you only pay when they update your accounts. That makes them more affordable than full-time accountants.

SEO

This is another field that might require more technical skill than you’re ready to deal with. Great search engine optimization (SEO) requires ongoing development of your content marketing and keywords. If you don’t have the time or understanding to work on moving up search results, hire a professional.

Investing money, especially hundreds or thousands of dollars, can be daunting for a small business. But in critical areas essential to your business’ growth, it’s worth the investment; spending a little can net you big results.

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and contributes to several sites, including ChamberofCommerce.com, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, CorpNet, Small Business Trends, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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