Email is Ruining Your Startup

Email is more foe than friend. Discover how it’s robbing your business blind, and what you can do to stop it.

19.8%… that’s how much email steals from your startup every single day.

For most small businesses, email is the central hub of information. Questions, to-do’s, timelines, files, proposals, approvals. The average employee receives 121 emails a day, each containing the bits and pieces they need to do their job.

We get it. Email is essential to your business. It’s so important, in fact, that we decided to fix it (though that’s a story for another day).

But while you may view email as one the most important tools your startup has, it’s also the one that’s robbing you blind.


The Fox in the Henhouse

Email poses a serious threat to small businesses.

A McKinsey study discovered that on average, workers spend 19.8% of their time searching for information they need to do their jobs. And in a small startup, that information tends to live buried in email threads.

What feedback did the client give? Pull up the email.

Do you have the new timeline for the marketing campaign rollout? Yes, let me dig it up and forward it.

Hey, can you shoot over those photos to the Design Team? Of course, I’ll zip a folder and email them right away!

Sound familiar? If not, your employees certainly recognize these phrases. Because they spend nearly one whole day of their 5-day workweek searching for the information they need to do their jobs.

If you have 10 employees, that’s 10 lost days of productivity every single week. Or more frighteningly, over 520 days a year spent buried in your company emails.

Did you know you’re essentially paying for two extra employees who do nothing but search through emails? Our guess is not.

Email is ruining your startup. And it’s time you make it stop.


Our Startup Was Struggling

How do we know so much about the dark side of email? Because it used to steal from us, too.

Before Basecamp, we were a small web design firm called 37signals. And like every other small business, we struggled to keep important information organized. Client feedback, project timelines, key deliverables — we relied on email for everything.

But information was falling through the cracks. Clients showed concern, and employees were stressed. It was clear that something had to change.

After failing to find an out-of-the-box project management solution, we decided to build our own. It was simple, but it worked. Almost overnight, projects ran more cleanly, and our employees got more done.

Oh, and clients took notice too. Soon enough, they started asking us if they could use this “magic” new software of ours. And with that, Basecamp was born.


Plugging the Leak with Basecamp

Today, over 20,000,000 people have worked on a project inside Basecamp. And while the tool has gotten substantially more powerful and easy to use, it still operates on the same core principles we developed years ago to steal back our time from email:

1. Every project has a home.

Whether it’s building a decades-long capital investment strategy, crafting a marketing campaign for a client, or planning the company picnic, most modern work is project-based.

And every project needs a home.

Inside Basecamp (which, not surprisingly, we use to run just about everything for our business), each project contains everything needed to get the job done. People, files, documents, discussions, to-do’s, dates, approvals, and more can now be found neatly organized inside each project.

No more time spent searching or guessing. Everything your team needs is right at their fingertips.

2. Every project gets the tools it needs.

Organization and storage are just the beginning. Each Basecamp project is loaded with the tools your team needs to discuss, track, organize, and most importantly, work:

  • Message Board: Share announcements, ideas, progress updates and anything else the team needs to know about the project.
  • To-Dos: Break projects up into specific tasks and keep them organized, assigned, and on-track with the project to-do list.
  • Schedule: Set important project dates right inside Basecamp, and if you like, share these dates via Google Cal, iCal, or Outlook.
  • Docs & Files: Stop sending massive email attachments and confusing shared drive links. In Basecamp, all the files you need for your projects are stored and organized neatly so they’re easy to find, every single time.
  • Group Chat: Questions, comments, concerns? Chat about projects right inside Basecamp so that everyone is on the same page.

3. Meetings are an exception, not the rule.

If you’re upset to learn that email’s been stealing 19.8% of your time, just wait until you discover how much you’ve lost to unproductive meetings.

Most meetings are a byproduct of poorly organized projects. When things are messy and lost, it requires constant conversation to get back on track. But with Basecamp, project check-in meetings are made irrelevant.

Inside each Basecamp project, you can create recurring, automated check-ins that get sent to everyone on the team. Team members can respond to these check-ins with their personal updates on the project, which then get uploaded for all to see.

Now, the entire project team can understand what’s happening at any given moment. Goodbye pointless meetings!

4. Make it easy for your clients.

If your business needs to keep clients close at hand during projects, Basecamp can help.

In the same way every conversation, file, task, and deadline is kept clean and organized for your team, Basecamp offers the same for your clients. Whether it’s a message, to-do, file, or approval request, anything inside Basecamp can be shared externally, significantly reducing the need for back-and-forth emails with your clients.

That said, we understand that privacy is paramount. Which is why every single item you share externally gets a visible badge letting the entire team know that the client has access. And switching permissions is as simple as clicking a button, meaning clients only see what you want them to see.


Steal Back Your Startup

Running a startup is hard. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Email has become a massive problem for business. It’s distracting. It’s unproductive. And if you’re not careful, it will ruin your startup.

We built Basecamp as a way to wrestle our business back from the grasp of email. Since then, countless other startups have used it to do the same.

Of course, the only real way to understand just how incredible it feels to break free from email is to try it for yourself. Take 90 seconds to sign up for a free Basecamp trial, and take back control of your startup today.

Originally published

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