Stop Trying to Build an iPhone on Your Own: How DIY is drowning your small business.

We hear the story of small business owners repeated over and over:

They’re great at something, and realize they’d love to do that thing for a living (certainly much more than working for someone else). They have an itch to start their own business, and everyone tells them they should.

They summon their courage (and savings), and charge boldly into the Wild West, excited to bring the value of their core competency to the world.

But they soon realize there’s more – MUCH more – to running a business than “doing what you love.” There’s a seemingly endless list of tasks they know little about that leaves them scratching their heads. Setting up bank accounts, handling bookkeeping, developing a marketing plan, managing payroll and staying on top of labor regulations, are essential nuts and bolts that keep a business intact.

Very soon, the excitement of starting a business turns into worry and anxiety. They’re overworked, their life is out of balance and they find themselves spending the majority of their time working on things that have little to do with why they started the business in the first place.

Besides working themselves into exhaustion and feeling unsatisfied with the results, what all these entrepreneurs have in common is that they’re making a potentially detrimental move that could sink their business.



The iPhone is one of the most iconic of American brands. It’s as American as apple pie. Or is it? To build an iPhone, you need experts who understand the technology behind things like the main chip, the radio frequency sensor, the audio chip, controller chips, gorilla glass and a bunch of other parts that make the device function. It’s a complicated patchwork of gizmos, many of which are so complicated themselves that Apple outsources their creation to experts in other companies and countries. Even with its deep pockets and army of top notch engineers and designers, Apple understands that to build a superior product and user experience for its customers, it’s much better off not doing everything in-house.

The vast majority of entrepreneurs try the business equivalent of putting together an entire iPhone in-house. They’re smart and capable, and assume that learning to do all of these necessary operational tasks themselves is the best or only way to survive in the business jungle.

The question is not whether they’re capable, but whether they should spend their precious time doing those things rather than focusing on what they do best.

Of course not.

So, how should they proceed? Every small business is different, which would make it difficult and imprudent to provide a step-by-step formula for deciding what business functions to outsource.  However, there are a few universal guiding principles that can help anyone in any business decide whether and what to outsource.



Let’s be honest: one of the chief reasons you started a business in the first place is because you want the time and freedom to do whatever you wish whenever you wish. But like most business owners, you lost sight of that in the struggle to get through each business day without losing your mind.  Learning how to value time is one of the most difficult but essential things a business owner can do. Every minute wasted not only drains your peace of mind, but also chips away at the value you provide to your customers.

The owner of a small business needs to not only place a high value on their time, but learn how to gradually increase it.

The best way to do that is to focus on his or her core competency – what they do best, and why they started the business in the first place.



It’s impossible to build a world-class company without smart people who are expert at what they do. But finding all of the best people and getting them all into one building is difficult and takes a lot of time. Great people are rare, and they’re often already working for someone else. You just have to find these companies and hire them to do what they do best.

From payroll to legal, and HR to accounting, letting outside experts help manage your business will pay for itself many times over. While it can be better to start without outsourced experts, it’s wise to eventually bring them in to correct, stabilize and ensure the success of your business.



At this very moment there are literally dozens of other world-class business waiting to do amazing work for you.

Just like you need and value business from your clients, there are payroll and HR companies out there who need and value yours, as well.

Plus, when you value your time enough to hand off your critical tasks to experts, that not only raises your hourly rate – it raises theirs, too. They are now operating in their core competency (believe it or not, there are people out there who LOVE tax law!), just as you’re operating in yours.



When it comes to running your small business, take a lesson from the iPhone. If you’re trying to DIY your entire business, shifting your mindset and employing new best practice will yield a much more efficient process, and create better value for your customers!