If you’re an entrepreneur, then there’s a good chance you’re pretty comfortable with the idea of figuring out how to do new and challenging things. Even coming up with a viable idea for a business often requires spending a ton of time and energy in the “figuring out” stage.

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Because of this, the committed few who figure out how to do everything required to actually get their businesses up and running are all at risk — at risk of losing, or limiting, their brands to a tragic case of DIY overdose.

What is DIY overdose?

Well, DIY overdose is what can happen if you become a full-time “figure-outer”, instead of the full-time entrepreneur you set out to be. Here are a few differences between the two roles:

Full-time figure-outer

  • Spends more than 50% of total work hours researching and/or troubleshooting
  • Wears FOUR or more, fairly unrelated, “hats” in their business (i.e. accounting, design, marketing and project management)
  • Always doing and re-doing tasks and/or projects because they get distracted or miss steps as they’re working to complete things

Full-time entrepreneur

  • Spends majority of total work hours on the key activities that create 80% of success in their business
  • Wears 1-3 related “hats” in their business, all of which require them to use some of their biggest strengths, talents and gifts
  • Completes tasks and projects thoroughly and is able to assess results and make future improvements when necessary

I don’t know about you, but the “entrepreneur” route looks a lot more fulfilling to me!

Even if you’re in the beginning stages of your business, you can still spend your work hours wisely and avoid becoming a full-time figure-outer by getting clear about the core activities that have the biggest impact on your success. Try limiting it to 4-6 activities and then then categorizing those under 1-3 hats. For example, if you’re a new photographer, maybe you spend 80% of your work hours on the following:

  • Photography
    • Coordinating shoots/taking photos
    • Editing/delivering photos
  • Marketing
    • Creating/posting on social media
    • Attending local events to meet new clients
  • Admin
    • Emailing
    • Managing schedule

So, as an early-stage photographer, you wouldn’t dump a ton of time figuring out things like designing an awesome logo, or worrying about building a bunch of email marketing campaigns. You would just do the things that make the biggest impact. Because focusing on your highest-impact activities is the best way to protect your brand from, you guessed it…

DIY overdose.

Now, I decided to share the solution (being a full-time entrepreneur instead of a full-time figure-outer) before explaining the details of the problem (your brand suffering from DIY overdose). And I did that because, in my opinion, it’s best to be proactive and avoid the risk of DIY overdose altogether by acting like a full-time entrepreneur, even in your early days as a business owner.

Still, I know that many business owners out there are wearing more than just a few hats in their businesses. So if this you, here are the symptoms of a brand suffering from DIY overdose (plus, cures for each symptom):

Everything feels like a priority

One of the best and worst things about running a business when there’s an internet full of answers at our fingertips… is the fact that we have an internet full of answers at our fingertips.

If you’re using blogs, videos and social media posts to inspire and guide you through every step of building your brand, then you could be cobbling together a business made of mediocre moving parts that won’t necessarily serve your brand in the long run.

Other people’s content can be really helpful when you’re able to think critically about the information. But unless you have pre-existing knowledge or experience related to the topic, it’s easy to interpret every step and strategy as a rule, rather than a suggestion. This can take your business one of two places:

  1. Absolutely nowhere, because you’re too overwhelmed to take action, or…
  2. Who knows where, because you’re blindly taking action on someone’s expertise, without the background knowledge needed to help you apply the steps and strategies in a way that supports your brand.

The Cure: If you suspect that you might have taken orders from a few too many tutorials, make a list of all the areas in your business that are overwhelming or confusing, or that aren’t looking/feeling that way you’d like them to.

Set out to connect with real humans who are experts in those areas and who share your similar values. Ask questions, build relationships and work with people who can help you clean up any messes and take clear, deliberate action that’s aligned with the goals you have for your brand.

Your offerings are old news

Heads up: this one is easy to overlook. If you’re spending all your time trying to DIY everything it takes to run a business and build a brand, then you’re not giving as much time and attention to understanding what your clients and customers need from you.

Whether you’ve been in business for years or you’re just starting out, optimizing your offerings to best serve your clients or customers is the lifeblood of any successful business. So, if you’re not doing things like collecting customer/client feedback, reading up on your industry, developing skills that help you do your best work and prioritizing customer service, then you’re headed in the direction of DIY overdose.

The Cure: Prioritize paying more attention to your offerings… you know, the stuff that people pay you for. Get feedback on them, update them as the needs and wants of your clients/customers shift, improve your own skills so that your offerings are increasingly valuable.

To do this, consider handing off some things that are taking up too much of your time and attention, which don’t directly relate to your offerings. Maybe that’s design, bookkeeping, social media management, etc.

Feels like a chore to run

Finally, if you’re not excited about the work you do most days, then you could be close to DIY overdose. If you’re spending a lot of your time doing things that aren’t at least semi-enjoyable to you, your business will start to reflect that lack of enthusiasm.

The Cure: Decide how you’d like to be spending your days. What would you spend most of your time working on if everything else were handled? If you’re sick at the thought of spending another minute messing around in Illustrator, invest in a designer. Want to do just about anything other than sit down and write a weekly blog post, a part-time writer could help you out.

Working with experts who can do the things that you don’t love doing almost always pays you back (and sometimes 10x more!) in the long run. Because focused and happy entrepreneurs, whose work makes them feel alive, build brands that shine and grow stronger over time.

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