I think a lot of business owners get caught up in doing everything themselves.
It’s something I know I struggle with every day, and stems back all the way to my childhood. I can remember being put in groups of 3 or 4 and told to work as a team to solve a problem. The problem for me as simply that 2 of the 4 kids didn’t have a clue how to go about solving it, and most likely, I already had. So immediantly, I would try to “do it all” to insure that I got the A. Most of my team mates rarely minded, as they got A’s as well. The teachers on the other hand didn’t enjoy it as much… But they saw it everyday. The mixture of the group is key for everyone to come out ahead…
But more importantly, I shouldn’t have been doing it all myself. Someone in the group may have been better at part of it, and they should have been left to do that task, if they were dependable. The same is true in business.
Take for example JR.
When JR started, I was very much inclined to believe that we needed to do it all… and I was pretty sure we could. We decided to become our own webhost (because nobody else was doing PHP 5 at the time). We decided to host our own email, our own DNS servers, everything. We then sold our clients on it, as well as the sites we built them.
The problem was this: our primary goal was always to build sites. That’s what we enjoyed. So any time spent managing our webhosting was kind of above and beyond. I liked it, but it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing every day, and it was not helping me grow after a certain point.
It was about this time that I realized, I should have let someone who was doing nothing but hosting run the servers. It would cost less (they were more effecient), it would take less of my time, and I would most likely get better tools as long as I signed up for the right person. Now that the realization is complete, that’s exactly where JR has been moving towards… Our DNS has been moving to godaddy because it’s free with the domain. Our email has been moving to Google Apps because it’s free, reliable, and has some of the best spam filters around. Our hosting has been moving to Westhost, Linode, or Rackspace, depending on the need for support vs. customizability vs. cost. What has this done? It’s free’d up my time (as well as my employee’s time) to do other things.
The one nice part about the mistakes like this though: Although it took time to learn the skills, the knowledge gives me a better ability to communicate with web hosts, which is very key in asking them to perform the service for me… So doing it myself wasn’t a total loss… Just not the most effective use of my time and money.
So for those of you who love Self-Help books… just remember, they aren’t always the best use of your time.