If You’re Learning, You’re Winning: The Limits of DIY

Odds are high that if you’re an entrepreneur, you enjoy problem-solving.

Odds are also high that if you manage a production schedule, you’ll do just about anything to keep it on track.

I have a foot in each of those camps: I’m part problem-solving junkie, part production schedule conductor, which means that I spend a lot of time operating as Kaser Blasting & Coatings’ default handyman. Kaser doesn’t have ten blast booths; it has one. If that booth is down due to equipment malfunction, blasting stops until it’s fixed, and the production schedule I so carefully designed gets off track.

DIY is my life, and I know I’m not alone in that. Anyone who works around specialized equipment – for which specific technicians aren’t readily available – is going to take it apart themselves at some point. I’m fortunate that my dad is mechanically inclined and able to help. I’m also fortunate that Stan (who has been in the blast booth 14 years) and Chauncey (who runs the powder shop) know their tools backward and forward. With the help of YouTube, the four of us have done a good job of keeping things running. We’ve saved ourselves a lot of time and money in the process.

While I am an advocate for getting your hands dirty, my caveat is this: know your limits.

Some jobs have to be hired out. Some jobs require a licensed technician. Running gas lines for a new addition? This is not the time to experiment on your own. If you’re not an electrician, please don’t try to rewire your shop. Any project that may result in a city inspection (or a serious safety hazard) should absolutely be left to professionals.

The good news is that hiring out repairs presents a learning opportunity. Don’t space out when the technician arrives – ask questions. Find out what went wrong. Ask what kind of replacement parts might be helpful to have in stock, and write those numbers down. Be involved. This is a growth opportunity, and it’s possible that with a little education, you might avoid a breakdown in the future.

Yes, fixing something yourself is a success…but hiring out repairs is not a failure. Priority number 1 should always be safety – your own, your employees’, and your shop’s. Beyond that, whether you’re doing your own repairs or watching someone do them for you, as long as you’re learning, you’re winning. 

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