As a small business owner, people are continually making demands on your time and resources. Have you, for instance, ever analysed the email you get daily? You may get an email that is either inappropriate for the moment (eg. someone who insists on partnering with you) or high-maintenance (“I don’t know you but I think you can you fix all my emotional problems with your detailed answer to this email.”)
These distracting demands on your time can be very flattering. After all, this person believes you are the answer to all their problems. Or they can be very guilt-inducing (“Why do you continue to ignore my cries for help?”) However, you need to evaluate how these demands tie in with your overall business goals.
Your goals should include how you can serve your target audience best. Your time is very valuable because you can use it to help people who really need your help (and these people are willing to pay you). If you get caught up responding to every demand on your time, the attention you give your target audience and existing clients will not be the best quality.
If you get an email from someone you don’t know, but you have the potential to help them quickly or refer them to the right person, by all means, respond. However, as difficult as hitting the “delete” button may be, you will be more productive if you use it more regularly (with discretion).
Being productive really boils down to doing the right things right. Are you serving your target audience by responding to a particular demand? Or are you neglecting those who keep a roof over your head because you feel it might be right to respond to those who do not compensate you and never will?