10 Business Lessons in a Do-It-Yourself Project

We’re about 1/2 way done with the development of my home office, probably the toughest work behind us. In three days we’ve demolished a small part of the basement, erected closet walls, insulated, dry-walled, replaced a window and a door, wired reciprocals and lights, taped the drywall seams. We still have to sand the drywall and reapply the mud, paint, trim, woodwork, build a bookshelf, assemble two closets, lay interior flooring, lay carpet, and anything else we may have overlooked.

I’m tired, but it’s a good tired. There’s a lot to say about good, hard work that makes doing it yourself so totally worth it. It has gotten me to reflect:

The indisputable lessons of business can be learned in a do-it-yourself project.

And vice versa. It’s true. This home office project you’ve enjoyed with me has been a great example. I’ve come up with 10 business lessons in this do-it-yourself project, and these lessons can be applied to any entrepreneurial project:

  1. Plan. Consciously set aside time to layout the plans. I had my son Isaiah – somewhat of a whiz with Google SketchUp – draw up plans. We spent good time thinking through the details of our planning.
  2. Consult. Ask for advice from those who know better. This is one of the reasons I flew my dad out from Minnesota. It was a $250 plane ticket, and I wrote that expense off as a consultation fee.
  3. Finance. In my planning, I had large-ticket item earmarked. I had a credit card specifically cleared for this job alone. I’ve been stacking my receipts neatly in a folder – located on the dash of my truck – and I’ll be going through it meticulously later.
  4. Start. There comes a time to “just do it,” take the plunge and do the job. I can’t get so wrapped up in my planning and consulting that I never move forward and get the job done.
  5. Work hard. A good work ethic is incredibly valuable in life. There are times to turn down hard work, but never turn it down to just avoid the work. Embrace hard work; it’s enjoyable and rewarding.
  6. Be risky. Consider the return on the time invested now. The week’s worth of work will bring great returns later. Keep your eye on the return and it will make the risks of expense and time worth it.
  7. Be adaptable. The plans will change as you dig into the project. I started out with plans that have changed considerably since, and that’s okay. Every change was a good change to make.
  8. Be ready to spend twice as much. I’ve done many construction projects over the years, and I have grown to expect this. Time and money will be spent, and I just expect it so it doesn’t frustrate me.
  9. Include the kids. Sure, there are times you have to shoo them off, but don’t get into that habit. Isaiah and Micah were huge helps in this remodel, but there were times when they were the little curious kids that “get in the way.” I’ve always resisted that urge.
  10. Learn. I’ve enjoyed blogging about this project. It has forced me to sit down and reflect upon the good things about it. Take pictures, discuss the details, enjoy one another, reflect on things learned – it’s all part of the business.

Okay, we put forward three good, hard days of work. My dad flies home this afternoon, the boys have school today, I have a meeting to go to tonight and some customers to take care of sometime today. We’re about 1/2 way done, but the business of life will creep in and threaten the completion. I’ll have to resist that.

But I’ve got my eye on the ball: a home office area that will be the perfect set up for my home business. Though the busyness of life carries on, this project will be finished by next week. I’ll keep you posted.