Out of all the revenue-generating activities a founder is involved in, where does checking email land? Most would put it at the bottom of the list -- a low-priority chore that needs to get done but can (and should) be outsourced to an assistant.
I can certainly relate. I've spoken at length about how to spend less time checking email and how to lower the amount of emails that arrive in your inbox in the first place. As a productivity geek, I look for any chance to automate or outsource low-value tasks in my business and life.
Yet I refuse to outsource my email, and I prioritize checking email over many other activities in my business.
Why? Because when I look back at the last few years of growing my business, I can attribute some of our biggest breakthroughs, deals, and partnerships to simple emails -- emails that would have slipped right by me if I wasn't personally getting to inbox zero every day.
I don't get annoyed or frustrated when I see my inbox full of unread emails because I see them for what they are: opportunities.
Jay Abraham, one of the most successful and highly-paid marketing consultants of all time, wrote a famous book called Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got. The premise of the book is that the vast majority of businesses are sitting on untapped potential in the form of hidden assets, overlooked opportunities, and underperforming activities -- they just don't realize it.
Although he is considered to be one of the most successful marketers of all time, Abraham's tactics rarely include external marketing. That's because external marketing should only be employed after you've exhausted all the opportunities available to you.
This is the mindset I've employed while growing my business over the past seven years. Up until recently, we've put almost zero dollars into external marketing or paid traffic -- instead choosing to focus on increasing the lifetime value of our customers, establishing partnerships with fellow businesses, and generating referrals. There were so many low-cost opportunities already at our fingertips that I had no interest in investing into external marketing until we had exhausted them.
And believe it or not, many of those low-cost opportunities were either sitting in my inbox or created out of a few back-and-forth emails. I've been able to create amazingly profitable partnerships and deals from unassuming emails -- so much so that simply practicing good email hygiene has been one of the most valuable uses of my time.
Whether it's a referral from someone in my network, a cold email, or a current customer reaching out -- plenty of emails can lead to business growth in one way or another. If I'm not staying on top of my inbox, I'm doing a disservice to my business and my team.
Founders need to hear this
It's not uncommon for founders and executives to have thousands of unread emails in their inboxes. We see it all the time when we help organizations improve their efficiency.
Yet when we go through those unread emails, we find countless opportunities. A missed follow-up email that could have resulted in a new deal. A lead that is literally asking to become a customer.
These people spend nearly every waking moment obsessing over how to generate revenue in their business while there is untapped revenue sitting in their inbox! If they could just get a grip on their email, they would not only secure this revenue but also save on external marketing costs.
Getting everything you can out of your inbox in 2022
Getting the most out of email doesn't mean you need to spend all day in your inbox. Most of the founders we work with ignore or outsource their email simply because they haven't set it up correctly and don't have a process for working through their inbox efficiently. With the right strategies, you can get more out of your email while also spending less time in your inbox.
Implement a strategy like inbox zero to prioritize and work through your emails efficiently.
Separate your team's communication. Email is for external, while tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are for internal.
Use filtering systems like "Focused Inbox" in Outlook or "Categories" in Gmail to automatically filter out low-priority emails.
Enable follow-up settings in Gmail or download Boomerang for Outlook to automatically remind you when you need to follow up with people.
Forward emails to the relevant people on your team for them to handle. Checking your email doesn't mean you have to be the one replying.
The bottom line? Stop thinking of email as a chore and start recognizing it for what it truly is: a source of untapped potential for your business.