You need to make a lot of decisions when you start and grow your own Independent Chef Business. But you only have three three options when it comes to getting things done: D.I.Y., D.W.Y., and D.F.Y. (WTF?)

Understanding the difference between these three terms is vital.

What’s The Difference Between D.I.Y., D.W.Y. And D.F.Y.?

D.I.Y. = Do It Yourself    

D.W.Y. = Done With You

D.F.Y. =  Done For YouThese terms indicate who’ll be responsible for doing the work, how much help you’ll receive from an expert, and what it will cost you. I outline specific examples for chefs starting and running their own business below.

Why Is It Important To Know The Difference Between D.I.Y., D.W.Y., D.F.Y.?

Starting your own business can feel a little bit like the old “What’s behind door number One, Two, or Three” — but your career is not a time for guessing. It’s time for informed decision-making and for taking the critical actions that get you profitable. 

Chefs who choose the right “D”:

  • Move forward much more quickly in their business
  • Execute projects effectively by using their time, energy, and resources wisely
  • Stay on track with their business building goals

Chefs who choose poorly:

  • Get stuck spinning their wheels on tasks outside their expertise
  • Waste time and money on tools their business is not ready for
  • Get distracted and fall victim to S-O Syndrome

(Shiny Object Syndrome: When you can’t resist that ‘too good to be true’ lure in front of you. It happens to fish and chefs alike — both with bad outcomes.)To get results you can Do It Yourself (if you have the time), have it Done With You (if you have the money), or get it Done For You (if you need the help). So, which way to ‘do it’ is best for Independent Chefs?

Should Chefs Choose DIY, DWY Or DFY Methods To Build Their Business?

Like a lot of things, chef, it depends. Choosing the right method depends on your business — what stage it’s in and what level of profitability it has attained. It also depends on your time, your skill set, and your interest. 

I encourage chefs to consider these words and to ask these questions:

  1. Expertise.
    Who can do this task the best? If I do it, what’s the learning curve like? 
  1. Benefits.
    What could I gain (or save) by using this method?
  1. Cost.
    What could I lose (or spend) by using this method?
  1. Time.
    Can I efficiently complete the task on my own or would it be a lot faster to hire someone else to do it with or for me?
  1. Results.
    What level of quality do I need? Does the task require A+ professional work, or can I wing it and get by with a C+ so I can move onto something else?

Every step of growing a Personal Chef or Private Chef Business requires the individual to stop and think about how it will be best and most efficiently achieved: Done by myself, getting some help, or by paying someone else to take it off my plate. 

Do your research. Chefs can’t afford to waste time, money, and momentum by choosing poorly.

What Are Some Examples That Illustrate The Pros And Cons For Chefs In Business?

The most common things chefs ask me about here are their logo, their website, and an LLC. Let’s take a closer look:

Your Personal Chef Logo: 

You can get this done ‘DIY free’ or pay the ‘DFY thousands’ to a designer.   

Remember, chef, people are buying YOU. Customers pay you to solve their problems with your cooking. Sure, it’s fun when you’re just starting out to imagine your rad logo, but to pay money for one (and add debt to your life) is foolish; the logo won’t get you clients, you will. Focus on the cooking and on your client list, and save your money for things that are absolutely vital. A great DIY option: Fiverr or Upwork (or your sister-in-law who has a graphics degree). 

When chefs have a profitable business that they’re ready to brand (with logos, brochures, wrapping that food truck, etc), this task is better left to the professionals. You’ll work with them through concept design or give the graphic designer free reign and a blank slate to see what they come up with. The right professional will make sure your logo and branding reflect your style, your clients, and your food.

Your Private Chef Website: 

This is where a lot of chefs start out on the independent road — and get stuck. They think they need a website to run a business (you don’t). 

One of two things happens on website projects: chefs who D.F.Y. waste lots of money before they’re ready, or they D.I.Y. and waste lots of time (or worse, never get it done).

The truth is you DON’T need a website to start and run your Personal Chef or Private Chef business. Really. Come to my workshop: Chef — What You Need to Know to Start Your Business to find out more on this. (Hint: certain grassroots strategies go a long way.)

Once you’re making money with your food (by serving ideal clients and articulating the problems your cooking solves for them) then you’re ready for a website. And when you get there you’ll have the cash to pay someone to do it for you (D.F.Y.) or with you (D.W.Y.). Website experts, like professional chefs with food, can do things twice as good in half the time as novices.

Your Independent Chef Business as an LLC: 

This topic trips up a lot of good chefs because they don’t understand what an LLC is and what it will do for them. A Limited Liability Company is a legal structure for running a business and/or holding assets. 

Don’t jump into this when you start your business. I repeat, don’t jump into this when you start your business.

Recently I heard a talk by a prominent CPA. This guy said 90% of all the entrepreneurs who come into his office for tax preparation and hold an LLC for their business DO NOT need it.

To LLC or not to LLC is a huge topic, one that I can’t fully detail here, so I’ll just say this: It costs money to form an LLC. It costs time to properly upkeep an LLC so that it serves its purpose. And there are costs each year to renew and maintain an LLC. 

Businesses often operate for years before they reach the point of needing the structure of an LLC. In the meantime, chef, save your money. And when the time comes, don’t D.I.Y. this one. There are reasonable ‘sweet spot alternatives’ in the D.W.Y. zone that’ll save you from forking over thousands of dollars to a private attorney.

One Size Does Not Fit All: The Paradox of Choice

Here’s the rub. Chefs who insist on D.I.Y. have trouble getting paid what they’re worth. How can you expect a customer (who knows how to make their own eggs and is good with a microwave) to pay you to professionally prepare their meals and throw their parties if you take on every aspect of your own business with a DIY mindset instead of getting the help of an expert?

Here’s what I want chefs to know: If a chef expects to be paid their worth, they must first see the value in how other professionals get paid for their skills.  

There’s a world of difference between what an average person can do and what an expert can accomplish. Choosing when to turn to the experts depends on many factors. Sometimes you D.I.Y. (clogged plumbing to save money) and sometimes you D.F.Y. (electrical work so you don’t kill yourself or housecleaning cuz it ain’t your jam).

When you’re launching and growing your business, choosing between D.I.Y., D.W.Y. and D.F.Y. requires you to do the research so you can make informed decisions. Save money where it makes sense. Work with someone when you need the help. Have someone do it for you when you need it.