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DIY or Hire it Out? Factors for Small Business Owners

Hiring it out or doing it yourself? There are pros and cons to both and it really boils down to the 3 T’s: Time, Talent, and Treasure. These are more important to you given the situation and the likelihood of success in what you’re trying to accomplish.


Well, we all know that time is precious! Whether it’s my kids asking me desperately for 5 more mins to play their games with their friends before dinner or the business owners I know who pay executive coaches to help them regain an hour of their day by using time management techniques.

I’d say you have to ask yourself, “How much time would it take you to do it yourself versus hiring it out”. If what you’re trying to do time sensitive, or needs to be completed by a certain deadline you need to be real with yourself about your available time to get it done. Like Franklin Covey’s 4 quadrants – is this something that is urgent and important? For example, taxes. Maybe you need to file an extension and you don’t know how to do that, but it’s due in a week and work is busy.

Another consideration related to time would be the duration of the project or scope of work once started. Is this something that will have a definitive start and end date (like a remodel project) or is this something that will continue on for an indefinite amount of time in the business like marketing or bookkeeping? And will it be a large disruption to you or your business while the project is going on if you choose to DIY or hire it out?

For example, my wife and I recently did our floors in our house and we weighed the decision of doing it ourselves versus hiring it out because it wasn’t too terribly difficult of a project, but we decided to hire it out to save not just time, but the duration of time it would take to complete the project and the disruption it would cause to our family day-to-day life.

Just remember, just hiring it out, doesn’t mean that you save all your time. To do it right, you still need to invest your time into finding the right person or company to do it for you. And as a project manager, whenever you delegate a task to someone it is on you to provide them with the resources and follow-up to make sure it was done correctly. My mother always said, “if you don’t have time to do it right the first time you’ll never have time to do it the second time”. So, bite the bullet and be honest with yourself about your time, and the urgency/importance of what you’re trying to accomplish to help grow your business.


When it comes to the “talent factor” I’m a big believer that where there is a will there is a way, but if there is no will there is no way. By that I mean, you have to be real with yourself about your willingness to learn what it will take to do it yourself.

Nowadays there are so many resources to learn how to do just about anything by searching YouTube, it is incredible. Actually, one of my favorite resources for small businesses I work with to learn QuickBooks for accounting or Facebook ads for digital marketing is LinkedIn Learning. It usually costs about $30/mo, but check with your county library because many of them have subscriptions where you can get access for free with a library card.

Even if you choose to hire it out, it’s always a good idea to try it yourself when possible, to have a better idea of what you are after, and many times even if you hire it out the company you’re working with will ask you these same things to deliver on the project.


When it comes to the “treasure factor” this is usually the most intimidating part of making the decision because oftentimes you don’t know how much it will cost and what is a reasonable price and this involves approaching and talking to people you don’t know.

There are 3 things I’d say here:

  1. Talk to your professional network for referrals and of course search online. Your banker, your local chamber of commerce, other business owners, and even your industry association or the industry association for the service you’re looking for are good places to start.
  2. Write down what you need done and be specific. A problem well defined is half solved. This will also show who you’re talking to and that you’re taking the project seriously. Ask the same questions to each vendor to effectively evaluate them against each other and take notes while you’re doing the job walk or interview.
  3. I always say talk to at least three people to get quotes of what you’re trying to do because if you get one quote you have an idea of what it might cost, if you get 2 quotes you have a range of what it might cost, but only when you get 3 quotes can you effectively determine what is a reasonable cost for the project to weigh into your decision making.

What tips do you have for small business owners?

Tip #1: Be real with yourself about your time, your talent, and your treasure. That’s the number rule as an entrepreneur: Be real with thy self.

Tip #2: Write it down and be specific about the project because a problem well defined is half solved. I had a close colleague I approached for a project because I knew I had reached my talent limit to do it myself and I went to him for advice. I had money, I want to pay him and he told me: “write it down, Sean”. When he told me that it gave me the exercise to write it down and really look at what I was trying to accomplish. There’s something that happens when you write it down, left brain – right brain, but it was a really big takeaway for me.

Tip #3: Of course get three quotes. You’ve got to get out there and talk to different people and you wish you could just cut right to the end and get the best consultant, bookkeeper, accountant, or marketing person on the first try, but it doesn’t happen that way. You’ve got to get out there, mix and mingle and find someone you work well with. What works well for me may not work well for you. Create a list of pros and cons and actually write out what you need to be done. You can have your questions that you ask people or take notes as you are out on the job walk or the interview and may have recommendations that you didn’t even think of.


Any decision in business is tough, because obviously there is an opportunity cost, and as the saying goes “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” This is where it comes down to what is important to you and no one can answer that question but you. The only thing I would add is to take your time to do it right and if you need help managing the growth of your business, that’s where the small business development center comes in with the free one-on-one consulting we provide. We help you navigate these tough business decisions and play devil’s advocate and help work through those decisions with you.

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.