I have been building my businesses for several years. I have quite a bit of momentum, which means I also have a high volume of clients and a high volume of people within my network. My large number of clients and other contacts translate into a lot of Facebook and Instagram notifications, as well as messages from other social media platforms. I have hundreds of emails that come through my inbox each week, sometimes even each day. To deal with all of these messages, I have put some systems into place to be sure that I can stay focused on the right things.
About 18 months ago, something clicked and I realized that if I wanted to grow a seven-figure business, I needed to start acting like I was already there. If you’re not already acting like you earn one or two thousand dollars a day or more, chances are you’re hurting yourself from accelerating your business at a fast pace. Eighteen months ago, I asked myself, “What would someone who is making my ideal income do with their time? How would they prioritize their time?” I knew that highly successful entrepreneurs aren’t spending hours upon hours each day in email. So, I made changes in my systems and currently have two staffers checking my emails.
I also made sure to turn off all social media notifications on my phone, and I do not check email on my phone. I use my phone to make and receive phone calls, and to use Periscope and other social media platforms. But, when I do use social media on my phone, I’m in and out, versus seeing a lot of notifications come up on a regular basis. That's been extremely important for me, and it’s helped me to not waste my valuable time. Having notifications turned off also allows me to stay present with my family when I’m not working.
A few months ago, I let my clients know that I would no longer be available to answer text messages because unfortunately I missed a lot of communication when clients were contacting me through text message. I started to move all of my clients toward using email for communication. This decision was a little controversial for some of my clients, but I knew moving my clients toward email communication was what was best for both my clients and myself.
If you’re worried that directing your clients toward one particular type of communication is bad customer service, remind yourself that if you want to have a successful business, you can’t be spending the majority of your working hours responding to clients’ questions that could easily be answered via a Google search. You need to be spending your time doing things that move your business forward. Your success in your career will be based on what you’re going to accomplish, not how many emails you respond to and how quickly you respond to them. Setting up a FAQ area on your website may solve most issues that arise.
The system I have in place for working through my inbox has been a game changer for me and my business. I have one staffer who looks through all of my emails and sends me one email report that I look at each morning. I look at that one email report to see what the priority items are. My staffer is very good about knowing what’s really a priority and knowing what’s a question that I don’t necessarily need to respond to immediately, so that has been extremely helpful. Instead of me going through emails for an hour in the morning, I am reading one email report, and based on that report, I can determine who I respond to.
For those of who-who currently have a full-time job outside of your business, it’s even more important to streamline your processes and to make sure that you have some help if you really want to scale. Or, you might decide to check email one time per day instead of being off and on email constantly throughout the day. If you batch tasks, including responding to email, you’re going to be much faster and much more productive.
As you scale your business, you need to set expectations and boundaries now even if you have a small number of clients. Don’t spend your valuable time being an instant messenger or taking away time you’ve set aside to spend with your family. If you have a client who says “I don’t want to work with you if I can’t get an immediate response to any questions I might have,” that’s probably not the right client for you. You most likely want to work with someone who is willing to respect family time and having a work-life balance. Setting boundaries will help you work more efficiently, and you’ll build your business faster by focusing your time on activities that grow your business.