It sounds revolutionary, but if you lead a startup, don’t use email to communicate with your team. Don’t get me wrong, email is one of the most important business inventions of the last 100 years. It’s changed the way we do business, and it’s given us another versatile avenue for communicating with others both inside and outside of our businesses.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that there have been thousands of books written on why you should use email and how you can use it better. Certainly, these are important considerations for huge corporations. But for startups, there are too many reasons to stay away from it, and too many alternatives that work much better.
Email is complex.
The two top priorities for startups are efficiency and simplicity. As a budding company, tasks should be completed as simply and as soon as possible. Communication is a big part of this. When email was an up-and-coming thing, it was rather simple -- just send a message and wait for a response. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case today.
No matter what platform you choose, email is so complex now that you’ll end up with a headache after a few minutes in your inbox. There are 50 icons you can click and 20 more unlabeled symbols, when all you’re looking to do is send Mary and Stephanie a message to see how their project is coming along, while shooting your boss a carbon copy of the conversation.
Why not use an app such as HipChat instead? It’s built for simple communication among teams. For a Windows/Apple divided staff, it works well on both, and while the security is top notch, there’s a web-based app for those departments who want to be extra careful. To squeeze in a little fun, there are even emoticons for messages, and full Instagram and Twitter integration packed in the software as well.
Email creates needless noise.
Unfortunately, there’s no spam filter on earth that can keep your inbox as clean as it was in 2000. No matter how many filters, trash tags or channels you set up, some things will always leak through and either agitate you or catch your eye (as it was designed to do), throwing off your caffeine-sponsored work groove. Email has become as bad, if not worse, than postal mail with regards to junk advertising.
If the sound of irrelevant mail hitting your inbox makes you cringe, give Slack a try. It’s seriously like email, reborn. For starters, the hashtag found in the company’s logo isn’t for looks only -- it’s also a sneaky nod to one of the program’s best features. In particular, the app allows you to include certain team members based on different channels such as #budget, #contentmarketing or #executive. Doing so ensures only relevant people see your messages, while others can ignore the noise.
But the real beauty of the app is found in its integrations. Though it is extremely simple to use, the seamless tie-ins with virtually every app you can imagine needing at your startup sets it apart from the rest of the internal-messaging field.
Written words just aren’t enough.
As an entrepreneur, you know there are times when you aren’t in a good position to write a message, or your team is mobile for the day. Maybe you’re sitting somewhere exotic and don’t want to stare at a screen. This is where Voxer -- the highest tech walkie-talkie you can image -- comes in handy. There have been plenty of direct-line apps created over the past five years, but Voxer offers wider capabilities than any others seen yet.
Voxer allows you to speak a message anywhere in the world, on any mobile or desktop device, with up to 500 colleagues. And yes, for the trendiest communicators, it even functions on the Apple Watch. The app gives you the choice to “listen live” while someone is speaking, presenting you the opportunity to give an immediate response. However, if you’re busy soaking up some rays or taking notes in a meeting, you can easily choose to listen later and reply when it’s convenient.
Startups are the businesses of the future. They bring the best products to the table and give the market fresh concepts -- so it makes sense that they should be using the communication technology of the future. With apps such as HipChat, Slack and Voxer, your team's communications will be less complex than ever before, yet more efficient than you can imagine.
What can you do today to transform your team’s communication instead of using email?
Know of any other email alternatives? Share your favorites in the comments section below.