Bert and John Jacobs have never done things the conventional way. As Bert told Inc.com's Leigh Buchanan earlier this year, they started their apparel company Life Is Good with just $200 and spent months living out of a van. Their business is now worth more than $100 million. So have they grown up and gotten with the usual business program?
Not at all, if a recent Business Insider post on the brothers' unusual way of working is to be believed. They might have a highly successful company and 250 employees, but what's one thing they don't have? Email accounts.
Kicking the email habit.
The Jacobs's problems with email would probably be familiar to many busy business owners. BI's Natalie Walters quotes from their book, Life Is Good, to illustrate the issues they were facing: "The time we spent daily just shoveling out our email inboxes was daunting. And we were going to bed at night feeling guilty and inadequate because we couldn't get ahead. The more emails we sent out, the more flowed back in."
But while the issue is common, the Jacobs's solution was revolutionary. They ditched email entirely.
"It just got kind of crazy so we took a leap of faith and said, 'What if we made a move to get off email completely?'" John says of the extreme decision. But even if the initial choice to log off for good was daring, the brothers apparently have never looked back.
After an initial feeling of freedom when they signed out of their accounts for good, the brothers had to tackle the question of how to work without email. Waters explains their current system for working without email: "Every two weeks, their team summarizes only the most important communications for them--which they say is not only efficient, but also liberating."
The benefits of being an email-free founder.
So how has the Jacobs's radical approach to communication worked out? Surprisingly well, it turns out. Not only did the brothers' contacts adjust to the change remarkably quickly, calling them directly for only substantive matters, but they also saw their productivity rise. John tells BI the approach is "really healthy" for both the brothers and the company. "It allows us to spend more time on high-level questions, puzzles, or projects and to be more creative because we have more mind space for that now," he explains.
Could their complete email ban work for other entrepreneurs? John admits their solution isn't for everyone, but he "would seriously challenge people to simplify their life and make some major changes to alleviate the amount of email they're handling per day."
Could you function without email?