Here’s What I’ve Learned After Two Weeks In a Startup: A Series.

Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

The Power of Email.

Stop what you’re doing and take a second to reflect:

What have I learned up to this point in my company?

There’s no doubt that working at a startup is a very accelerated experience.

In all honesty, I‘ve been a bit intimidated by it.

I made the jump to tech after seven years of working for non-profits.

Talk about a learning curve.

Initially, I had a lot of technical questions running through my head,

“I don’t know anything about software, what the heck am I doing here?”

“What’s MRR anyways?”

“I’ve never spent this much time analyzing spreadsheets, I need to learn all of the functions on excel don’t I?”

Mixed in with those were, of course, the more consistent, day to day insecurities,

“You can’t make a mistake, Lucas.”

“What are you doing? You’re not qualified for this change.”

“I can’t talk to customers and help them with their problems; I don’t even know what I’m doing.”

If this is you, you’re not alone.

The reality?

The exact opposite has been true.

For the next couple of weeks, I’ll take you through what I’ve learned after two weeks in a tech startup.

Keep reading to see what the craze is all about.

Lesson #1: the power of email.

Email is king… when done right.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

To say that email is a key form of communication in today’s wildly connected world is an understatement.

According to 99 firms, there are over 3.9 billion people who use email.

That’s 50% of the world’s population.

The importance of email can’t be overlooked.

Email is king… when done right.

I’ve had an email since the MSN messenger days (throwback!).

If you’re like me, bad habits have probably been formed over the years of never really learning how to use email properly and effectively.

Mostly because for the longest time, we didn’t need to.

Since then, email and how we use it has drastically changed.

Now that I’m in an environment that places a high value on being effective with email, it’s demanded I realize a couple of things.

Writing a great email is a skillset.

Writing a great email is a must.

There’s nothing worse then a pointless and un-scannable email.

Michael Seibel, CEO, and a partner at Y Combinator and co-founder of two startups — and Socialcam — has a great framework for emailing early-stage investors.

Michael breaks down how to write an effective email sentence by sentence.

Overall, he highlights things like:

  • Avoid poorly communicating who you are/what you do.
  • Don’t write too much. Too much text will result in minimal to no responses.
  • Make sure you use the right email.

Instead of seeing email as just another form of communication, see it as a skillset, one that can transform how you communicate.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Approach your email with your strategy hat on.

The goal is to simply communicate in a way that you get a response and move the ball forward.

Jocelyn Glei at Zapier, wrote a great article detailing the steps to adopt a new approach to email. Those steps are:

  1. Lead with your ask.
  2. Establish your credibility.
  3. Make the way forward clear.
  4. If you’re asking a question, propose the solution.
  5. Make your email scannable.
  6. Attach a deadline to the ask.
  7. Subject lines are actually headlines.
  8. Constantly and frequently edit your messages.
  9. Preview all outgoing emails on your phone before sending it.

Email in a way that is both convenient for those receiving it and not another task or boring article.

Email as if you’re talking to a human being.

Learning to write a great email is a huge first step in knowing how to properly leverage the power of it.

As I’ve dived deeper into this, I’ve realized something pretty profound actually,

A great email is only great once you realize it’s being sent to another human being.

Why is this important?

Any email is being sent to a real person; not just another inbox.

Recently, I purchased Dave Gerhardt’s Laws of Copywriting, where he details his 10 rules for writing copy that sells.

My favorite law that Dave lays out is Law #4: You must write like you talk.

This law is intricate to not just great copy within marketing, advertising, and selling.

It’s a must in any form of written communication.

How do you talk to people?

How would you hope others talked to you?

Like a human being. One deserving of love and respect, right?

So why does this rule go out the window when it comes to the written form, especially email?

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

Since paying more attention to this myself, I’ve seen an increase in open and reply rates.

Even more so in genuine conversation with customers and team members.

That’s a win I’m for sure looking to duplicate.

[Side note — you’ll learn great copy too if you put this law into practice in your email use, just saying.]

Inbox Zero is cool, but good habits are better.

Arguably the biggest rat race of them all is getting to inbox zero every day.

I know some people who’ll have 500 emails in their inbox in the morning and dozens that need to actually be responded to every day.

The amount of time spent skimming alone is stressful.

Now imagine trying to get that number down to zero. Every day.

For starters, I am not saying inbox zero isn’t a desirable outcome.

I personally can and should attain this based on where I’m at in my professional journey. I have the time.

Some people don’t.

Which has forced me to ask the question,

What are productive habits I can build now for when email becomes too much in the future?

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Thomas Oppong, Founder at AllTopStartups, has a great article detailing why inbox zero is a waste of time and how to rethink email habits.

He says,

Learning when it’s productive to pay attention to email and when you should ignore it is a necessary skill.

I did some re-evaluating myself.

A few things I’ve begun to incorporate just in the last month have been:

  • Eliminating email notifications, like completely.
  • As Thomas details, attending to my email on an “appointment” basis.
  • Using an email management app like boomerang.

Again, inbox zero is cool, but good habits are better.

In Closing…

Email is a powerful tool, no doubt.

At the end of the day, it is just a tool. One that is serving many purposes.

Effective communication, increased customer satisfaction, and overall success within a business to name a few.

However, one cannot overlook the importance of doing your due diligence to use this tool properly.

Email is king… when done right.

I hope this has been helpful as you embrace your growth and learning opportunities that inevitably come as a professional.

Stay tuned for the continuation of my series: what I’ve learned after two weeks in a tech startup.



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