How “Do It Yourself” is Killing Your Business

do it yourself

It’s a Do It Yourself business environment. As technology has exploded, businesses work with more apps/ programs than we could have imagined. There is little that you can’t do by an app: payroll, marketing, sales management, logistics, investing… Almost anything you can think of has an app ready to download to your phone. Largely overlooked is the quality of these solutions – they are not right for every business.

Of course it’s wiser to save money than spend it when you’re likely to achieve equal or better results. What causes trouble is the number of businesses who don’t realize when to use an app or program, and how to audit the program’s success. I can cut my own hair, and though it’s cheaper, the results are not equal or better! Young business may do well to adopt a Do It Yourself program due to the cost savings, but how do you know what you don’t know? It’s wise to start with a professional, and move to an app or program over time as the needs of your business become consistent. Some apps can then support systems on their own. However many systems will need the occasional tweak from a qualified professional to achieve optimum results.

Example: Tax Prep Software

Example: There would be no Turbo Tax without tax professionals. And many of us do just fine using it, or another program to complete our taxes. But how many of us take our taxes to a professional to confirm the numbers from our program? Just because we can file through a program doesn’t mean we should. These DIY programs don’t offer advice on capital spending and improvements, or of human resources. Tax planning is the art of arranging your business purchases and expenditures in ways that delay or avoid tax liability. Good tax planning eliminates paying unnecessary taxes. That leaves more money invest or spend as is best for your business.

The tax professionals who designed tax software are well aware of the limitations of the product. Most small- to medium-sized business owners are not, and that’s the problem. (Did you notice you no longer have the option of having your returns reviewed by a tax pro within the program?) In order to save a few hundred dollars on professional tax prep now, many companies run their taxes through a computer program. Sadly, they discover months or years later how costly a lack of tax planning truly was. Tax software is just one example where DIY could damage your business without professional auditing.

Local Impact of DIY

Many small businesses exist due to the need for outsourcing, like attorneys, CPAs, and payroll processors. Professionals who serve small business urge us to buy local, and keep local dollars in our communities. What is happening by dependence on apps and programs is “down-sourcing.” We are self-limiting our resources by eliminating people from the menu.

Eventually, those local business professionals will move on to more profitable work, and the community will lose the resource of their service. When we DIY, we put local professionals out of business. We are limiting our businesses to the actions available to us through a mouse-click. The money spent on the app or program leaves the community. We are making our options fewer. We may be putting ourselves and our community in an ever-declining economic position.

As you move through the next few weeks, take note of the number of parts of your business you run via an app or program. If you don’t have a means to audit the success of the program, it’s probably time to check in with a professional for a consultation. By pairing your programs with the right advisers and consultants you’ll breathe new life into the infrastructure of your business.