The power and pitfalls of doing it yourself

In business, if you try to do everything yourself, you get overwhelmed with detail and business growth becomes almost impossible. This is the big pitfall of trying to do everything yourself and why we use suppliers, partners and outsource work.
Sometimes, however, I’ve found that not only is the saying true – “if you want something doing well, do it yourself” – but also it’s the right thing to do it yourself, even when it’s something that other companies could provide.
My company, Actinic, has been developing and selling ecommerce software since 1996. The software has always had a good reputation for being good with search engines. But back in 2002 our own website rated very poorly on Google.
Here was the frustrating thing. We had been paying out a small fortune to a search engine optimisation company, so we demanded a meeting. They explained that our monthly fee paid for them to resubmit our site to a range of search engines, and they would gladly look at some further actions. These possible actions duly arrived, along with a proposal for additional fees.
I was furious. We had been paying for months, getting nothing, and now that we expected some value, they wanted to charge us more! Needless to say that relationship was short lived.
Instead, we picked someone internally who really enjoyed the process of becoming an expert in a field, and set him to work. It did take a while to read the best books, research the subject online and attend some conferences, but it was well worth it. Within months we had shot up the rankings for all of the most important phrases related to ecommerce, and we’ve been there ever since, equalling or bettering all of our competitors. Today, we get half of our new leads from internet searches alone.
What is the lesson? Is it to do everything yourself? I don’t think so, because you can’t be good at everything. What it does illustrate, though, is that if something is critical to your business it’s worth doing yourself, provided you can do it right. In this case, it certainly worked for me.

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Chris Barling

Chris Barling co-founded ecommerce software supplier, SellerDeck (formerly Actinic Software) in 1996. He has over 30 years’ experience at the corporate end of the IT industry. He is a prolific writer for a large range of small business media and has also published three books on ecommerce.
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Chris Barling co-founded ecommerce software supplier, SellerDeck (formerly Actinic Software) in 1996. He has over 30 years’ experience at the corporate end of the IT industry. He is a prolific writer for a large range of small business media and has also published three books on ecommerce.