DIY : Small Business and The Digital DIY Dilemma – Alex Belding – Medium

“It was like walking through a maze…with a blindfold on!”

This was the vivid description I heard over coffee recently with a local Colorado Springs photographer.

The frustration they had experienced was real. The hours spent beating their head against the website were gone.

Welcome to the Digital DIY Dilemma facing small businesses.

Now, I don’t see an issue with all DIY projects. In fact, my wife and I have been building our own DIY headboard. We started 4weeks ago. Given the current rate of progress, we hope to be finished by early December.

Our headboard isn’t mission critical. It will serve no function other than to add charm and aesthetic to our internal decor. We can afford to take our sweet time. If it doesn’t turn out perfect, that is okay. At this point, our cost is mostly on time and what we’ve spent at a Habitat for Humanity Restore. Since it is a DIY project that makes sense.

We could have bought a premade quality headboard and been finished, but we wanted to make something that was ours. A noble endeavor for certain. Saving money and spending time is okay for us. But it is looking like it will take us the better part of 3 months to get it finished.

I see this same logic bleed into business. This is worrisome.

DIY projects are great for your personal life, but DIY should be left alone when it comes to your business.

Back to my conversation with the photographer.

While trying to build a portfolio website for their photography business, they just couldn’t get things to display the way they wanted to. Creating a website to properly display their work had turned into a nightmare.

You don’t successfully shoot architectural photography in Chicago for several years without an eye for detail. But this was the problem. Using WIX’s DIY website builder became frustrating and took more time than they originally anticipated.

Many of the DIY website building tools just don’t let you have the access to the detailed level that you need to have in order to get the results you want, as they explained.

“Things just wouldn’t display the way I wanted them to,” I was told. “I liked sections of one template but wanted to incorporate sections of another template. Every time I changed something it caused a new problem somewhere else.”

Eventually, they scrapped their plans to build the WIX website and started over with an alternative platform.

Not only did they find it difficult to get the results they wanted, they found themselves spending an hour or more trying to make a simple change on the website before getting subpar results.

Then to add insult to injury they had to scrap the whole website and start over somewhere else.

This is the DIY Dilemma

Small business owners don’t have this sort of time to waste.

You need to be busy working on your business, not in your business, for it to grow and thrive.

If you want more great reading on this subject, by the way, check out The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber. You can get it on Amazon here or check out a 5-minute video overview here.

Your brainpower should be spent each week building the strategies and forging the relationships that will help your business grow, not messing with an HTML editor.

Every hour you spend fighting with templates and trying to learn the DIY website tool of your choosing is time you’re missing from accomplishing the core tasks that will really build your business.

Hearing the first-hand experience was a fresh reminder that while the DIY website tools have made web design more accessible for many business owners, the time investment can still be a losing proposition as you try to achieve success online.

Even if you master your platform of choice and enjoy a better experience than the photographer I spoke with, is that the best use of your time as the business owner?

Ultimately, with every decision regarding your time as a business owner, you have to ask whether the time invested is worth the return.

You can find new customers when you lose that elusive prospect.

You can course-correct after that failed marketing initiative.

But, you can’t get back your time.

You have to ask yourself with each commitment of your time: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

The Digital DIY Dilemma runs deeper than just creating a website.

For many businesses, a DIY website may be the only option. A place to begin. I am not saying all DIY websites are a waste, but eventually, they become a problem.

I can understand how it happens. Starting a business is a labor of love. In the beginning, time is your biggest asset. DIY, in many respects, is a great option. Until it isn’t.

The issue, as I see it, is businesses hold onto their DIY websites for far too long.

As the business grows and time tightens a DIY website gets left to atrophy. Without adequate time and attention a DIY website is no longer a value-add, in fact, it can become a liability.

Many of these DIY website systems become targets for malicious actors online.

Of course, you want to keep your website secure, but security is a moving target. Security is often the first thing to be left off the to-do list. Updating all the themes and plugins is cumbersome. Why bother right?

Adding an SSL encryption is important, but, how do I do that? The intent to secure a DIY website is a guarantee. But the proof is in the pudding. Almost 60% of WordPress sites are out of date.

In fact, many things get left behind on DIY websites. Information is not updated. Design standards are not kept up. This is especially true if the DIY website was designed before the explosion of mobile devices.

Websites today must be up-to-date, secure and mobile friendly. All those requirements become a tall order when the website is DIY. This is why 98% of DIY websites fail. source

We live in a digital era. I often argue that websites are the new brick and mortar of business. Customer’s first interaction with businesses is on the web. Whether it is social media or search people begin their business relationships online.

A professional, clean website is an investment. Not a cost. It is also a necessity for businesses in this digital era.

If you are stuck in the digital DIY Dilemma I encourage you to work with a professional. Build an engaging and well-designed website. The benefits will outweigh the costs. Your business will thank-you.

Dealing with the DIY Dilemma?

We help our customers everyday build custom websites and leverage digital marketing tools. Our philosophy of Web Design as a Service is all about helping small and medium businesses find success with our Do-It-With-Me approach to websites. Feel free to visit our website or Facebook page and request more information.

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