For the most part, everything I have done in life I did myself. Of course there was some encouragement along the way, but all of my achievements came from my own hard work. I didn’t ride in on the coat tails of anyone else. The reason I got into website design was fulfill a need for a website. I wanted to start an online business and did not have the kind of cash website developers were requiring in the late 90’s (web design in the 90’s was like iPhone app development is today, very expensive). I got into Photography because I was tired of my website design clients giving me horrible photos to use on their website. They didn’t want to pay to have a professional photographer come take new photos, so I figured I could add in some value to what I offer by taking new photos for them. My success has came largely due to DIY (Do It Yourself), and up until the last few years this has not been a problem for me.
A few years ago I started noticing that I can’t do everything. I knew that I could figure out how to do anything I wanted to figure out how to do, but I could not offer everything to others as a service. It was just to hard to split my time up into so many different directions. Designing websites can take a lot of time. There is a lot of back and forth conversation with my clients and there are only so many of those conversations I can handle at once before to much time is spent meeting and not enough time is spent doing the work. With my photography business I quickly noticed the same thing happening. I would take on smaller photo jobs such as a family portrait, high school senior portrait or a small commercial job, but the back end processing of it all was killing my productivity. With photography, I have never advertised myself as anything other than a wedding photographer, however people still contact me for other photography needs. It is hard to say no because these people want to work with me and I want to help them.
Last year was the first year that I decided that I needed to hire someone. I was a full time website designer, wedding photographer and ran two busy websites, all by myself. It was a lot of work. I decided to hire someone to help me run one of the websites which ended up being a new challenge all in itself but after some bumps and lessons ended up being quite a good thing. I also outsourced a lot of work starting last year. I found a good designer who also knew motion graphics and I was able to produce some pretty neat things last year and grow two areas of my business that I really wanted to see flourish. Never would I have been able to do this if I had decided to teach myself motion graphics. Some things just take to much time to learn when your need is for something right now.
This year I am moving even more in that direction. Though there are things, like motion graphics, that I really want to learn, I have decided that there is a time for that, and that time is not right now. When I have a need for something and not enough know-how to pull it off, I find someone that can help me with it. The amount of time I have been able to free up by doing this has allowed me to get my projects and ideas launched much quicker resulting in the timely release of several of my ideas. Most of my ideas are things that need to happen now. If I wait for a few months, the idea might no longer be valid, or someone else may have came along with a similar idea before I am able to launch. Daily, I am learning to let go and allow someone else to handle things.
The cost is one major factor that used to hold me back. I used to think that paying someone to do something that I could figure out on my own was a horrible idea, however I realized that when my time was released from that project to do other things, I was much more productive. I tend to get a little carried away on learning new things and it blocks my mind from conceiving new ideas. Outsourcing some of my needs has helped me in so many ways.
In no way am I good enough at this yet. I still do a lot of things on my own, mainly because I have not found someone who can produce what I can produce as quickly as I can, but I am still looking. I need to get to the point where I have people in my circle whom I trust and who love doing the specific task that I need accomplished. I know that these people exist, its just finding these people.
If I don’t continue on this path of being smarter about what I decide to do myself, I will never reach my goals or check off anything on my Impossible List.
Now DIY is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of things I do myself because I enjoy them. I love editing my own wedding photos. I have tried outsourcing that and I was not happy with the results. I also love taking on projects that challenge me. Because I will continue to learn until I take my last breath, there will always be some DIY in my spirit, I just need to always remember to use good judgement when I decide what to do myself and what to outsource to others. I also love taking on small DIY projects. I love the feeling of completing something that I did myself. That will never go away.
I encourage you to look at how you do things yourself. Just because you know you can figure it out does not mean you should. Sometimes it’s even good to outsource things you do know how to do but don’t need to be doing. For example, I don’t change the oil in my cars and I don’t mow my own lawn. Not because I don’t know how to do it well, I would just rather spend the time with my family when I am at home, and I do just that. At work, there are a lot of things that I used to do myself that I either have my employee do or I outsource to someone online. It gives me more time to focus on my goals, which to me is very important.
What are some things that you need to stop doing yourself? What could you be doing instead if you didn’t have to complete those tasks yourself? Leave your comments below, my challenge for you is to become a better steward of your time.