Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #107
Being a "visionary" isn't easy
Last week, I wrote about the importance/value of being able to predict the future. If you’re an entrepreneur who can figure out where an industry is moving, you can get there before anyone else and lock up the market.
It’s a good strategy in theory, but it’s a difficult strategy to execute because, as you surely already realize, accurately predicting the future is basically impossible. If it wasn’t, your retirement account would be filled with shares of Apple and Amazon stock you bought 20 years ago.
If there’s a theme to this issue of EOH, it’s what happens when you don’t make an accurate predication about the future, and, as a result, your startup fails. Don’t worry… the outcome isn’t as bad as you think. In fact, it’s a fairly normal part of entrepreneurship.
Learning to manage the uncertainty of startups is critical to your success. It’s also critical to your sanity…
The Developer Who Could Have Built Google
You've probably never heard of Deja, but, had things gone a little different, it could have been Google.
Hear what went wrong when Steve Madere, founder of Deja, shares his story on Web Masters.
Listen now on:
…or search “Web Masters” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
FROM THE ARCHIVES…
Sometimes all it takes to make something look incredible is a tiny little tweak. Here’s one you can do to a slide deck that’s sure to elevate your next pitch.
Office Hours Q&A
What is an example of a good opening sentence in a cold email?
For a bit of context, this question was asked in the comment section of an article I posted on LinkedIn about people who write bad emails.
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know I’m obsessive about email and figuring out strategies for getting more responses from cold emails. That’s why, rather than just answering in LinkedIn, I also wanted to explore this question in EOH.
To understand what makes for an effective first sentence in a cold email, we need to start by considering the context in which that email is going to be received.
Your email recipient probably gets lots of emails. That person likely triages her emails based on priority. Emails related to (and from) the people most important to her get top priority. That includes friends, family, bosses, co-workers, etc.
Somewhere near the bottom of that list is your email. She doesn’t know you, so why should she bother to read your email. This is the problem you have to overcome. The way you do it is with your first sentence.
Your first sentence is where you have to demonstrate relevance. It’s where you have to make the recipient care enough to keep reading.
The best way to do this depends on who you’re emailing, but, in general, I like to try one of three things:
Show connectivity to someone the person knows. For example, if someone I know mentioned the person I’m emailing, I’ll start with a sentence like, “I was talking with So-And-So, and he mentioned your name.”
Show connectivity to something they care about. An example here is what college the person went to. For example, if I’m emailing someone who went to Duke, I’ll mention being a Duke alum so the person knows we went to the same school.
Show value. Whatever kind of value I can demonstrate, I try to do it as soon as possible. For example, if I’m emailing a venture capitalist, my first sentence might include something like, “I’m founder of XYZ Startup, a company doing $2 million in annual recurring revenue.”
However you choose to start your emails, remember that you don’t need to sell the person you’re messaging in your first sentence. All you need to do is provide enough information to convince the person to keep reading. Do that, and you’ll have accomplished your goal.
Also, remember that most email apps preview the first few words of an email. So not only is your first sentence critical, the first few words of your first sentence help determine whether or not the person even opens the message. Make sure those are perfect!
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!