It’s been a long time since I wrote the articles on Paypal and Domain Names and Hosting, so I thought I’d keep on going with the series and write about probably the most used tool that I visit everyday, and which I couldn’t do without. Please note that I had nearly finished writing this article yesterday, but I pressed a key and BOOM – it was all gone! So after the initial frustration I have decided to give it another go!
Email and Instant Messaging are 2 things which have enabled me to be where I am today. Today, nearly everyone has an email account and the ease of sending an electronic piece of mail which is free and which is quick and instantaneous beats the telephone hands down. Let’s firstly get a Wikipedia definition to get the exact meaning of the phenomena which is Email:
“Electronic mail (abbreviated “e-mail” or, more commonly, “email”) is a store and forward method of composing, sending, storing, and receiving messages over electronic communication systems. The term “e-mail” (as a noun or verb) applies both to the Internet e-mail system based on the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and to intranet systems allowing users within one organization to e-mail each other.”
The growth of sending virtual mail has been astronomical. It was only in 1982 that the first emailing system was used in the Whitehouse, however this was only open for a select few employees. Since then, email account have been opening left, right and centre (although this has unfortunately meant a larger amount of spam and spoof emails appearing in our Inboxes). And did you know that in 2009 we are projected to be sending and receiving 160 emails per day each!
So How Do I Start Using Email?
Using Email has never been easier. There are now so many companies offering free email accounts and a specific amount of storage, that it can be hard to seperate them from each other. There are however, 3 big online email providers:
Of course, your internet service providers will also endeavour to hook you up with an account. AOL, Ntl, Telewest and BT (here in the UK at least) are known for their generally good customer service and ease of setting up a mailing account. For a more professional look, and if you are a domain name owner you can setup a mailbox in the form of “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Once you’ve got your very own, unique name, then you’re ready to start sending!
The ease of email – just a few clicks and some basic typing skills – has enabled me as an online entrepreneur to communicate with people across the globe. If I need some web design work done, or need to speak with a vital contact or want to talk to family or friends, they are literally just a click away. The only problem with Email, is that you can’t guarantee that your contact will read the mail straightaway (funnily enough, people don’t spend their lives in their Inboxes!). This is where Instant Messaging comes into play.
Scenario: Im sitting at my computer here in the UK, but I need to tell my web designer to make a small change to my business logo. If I send an email, I can’t guarantee that he’ll read it straightaway, and it will take a long time to type out exactly what Im after.
Introducing IM! I’m able to quickly log into my instant messenger and see whether my designer is online (ie. whether he is logged into his messenger). If he is, I can start a conversation with him, whereby I type my messages into a screen, hit Enter, and they are “instantly” wizzed across to him and then he can “instantly” reply. This form of communication is a whole lot easier and sometimes funner than the bog-standard email.
But How Do I Start Using IM?
Again – with ease! If you have a Hotmail account, all you need to do is Download MSN Messenger and you can use your existing username and password to connect to your friends who have Hotmail, MSN or Yahoo email addresses. Better still, with Gmail there is an inbuilt messenger function. So no downloading needed.
All in all, Email and IM are the 2 most important Entrepreneur Tools in my life. They have enabled me, as a youngster, a chance to compete with the big-boys sitting in their corporate offices. I am able to talk to people with all types of skills and this can give me a wider scope and can give my business the legs to travel across the whole globe without me moving a muscle (except the finger muscles!). Blogtrepreneur itself was born out of a conversation between myself and Matt – and we havn’t even talked voice to voice yet!
How has Email and IM affected your life as an entrepreneur? Leave me a comment or email me – and I might even write about your real-life story!