Why The Don’t Quit List is a Must Have for Entrepreneurs


We all love lists – am I right? You see them everywhere; “10 Ways to Become a Successful Entrepreneur”, “The 7 Secrets of the Rich”, “Top 5 Movies this Week”, you get the drift. In fact, Buzzfeed leads the way by presenting news and stories in a list format. And who could forget David Letterman’s “Top Ten List”? Although those are all the fun, distractify lists, we also have our own versions, such as our never-ending “To-Do” lists, or perhaps it’s a shopping list of groceries or the guest list for a party. Or maybe we make pros and cons lists, like when we have major decisions to make; “Why should I choose this opportunity over that one?”. Okay, so maybe we don’t always love our own lists as much, since looking at it can be quite overwhelming and stressful.

But what if we could make a list that would make us feel happy to look at? One we would be eager to approach and tick off - one that made us so happy that we wished it wouldn’t end. Allow me to introduce the “Don’t Quit List”. This is a little inspirational tool I created for myself being a startup entrepreneur, which is much needed, as it’s the toughest job I’ve ever had. Aside from the irregular, non-stop hours, entrepreneurs face criticism, ridicule, and rejection on a regular basis. Which is a strange feeling, considering I have always been an overachiever and quite successful in my studies and professional field. I suppose that’s all part of the process of growing when you venture out of your comfort zone to try something new and daring. I have to remind myself to “Be brave, not perfect”, as Reshma Saujani expressed in her Ted Talk.

In the face of setbacks, I needed something to keep me motivated. And because I am a list junkie, the “Don’t Quit List” was perfect for me. It was a list of all the actions I can take to achieve success. There are only two questions I ask myself before I add the item to my list; “Will this action item generate traction (i.e. users or revenue)?” and “Will this action item generate funding?”. If I answer yes to either or both, it goes on the list, simple. Then I write the action item in past tense, so I can visualize and feel that I’ve already accomplished it every time I look at it.

Some items on my list are: “Created & published my first blog post”; “Launched my MVP website”; and “Pitched on Shark Tank”. Once I have completed the item successfully on the list, I move it to another list called the “Win List”, so that I can keep track of all my achievements thus far. Which includes this blog post! Plus every time I look at that list it makes me smile, and reminds me that I am constantly making progress. In the event that an item “fails”, I simply cross it off my list so I can move on to the next action item on the list. This way I don’t dwell on what didn’t work out since as an entrepreneur I really don’t have time to live in the past.

An amazing app I love to use to create all these lists is Wunderlist, which you can download onto your desktop or mobile device. It also has a web app version that you don’t need to download. The beauty of Wunderlist is that it allows you to create, update, and organize these lists effortlessly, which can be accessed anywhere and also shared with anyone. Let’s say you’re reaching the end of your list, a trusted friend or colleague could add ideas to the list in real-time, right when you need it the most. You can also email and print these lists if you prefer to kick it old school. Plus you can add notes, links, deadlines, team members and comments, the list goes on, pun intended.

Aliya Amershi