As I was approaching twelve years growing The E List (and various other small businesses that I either started or ran), I thought about some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career. Like most folks, I love a listicle, something I can easily get my mind around and maybe put one or two ideas to use. Whether you own your own business or are thinking of starting one, I’ve compiled a few actionable items that you may find helpful. I’ve had an idea for a book for a long time, but can’t seem to get around to it, so maybe this is the first chapter. See the 12 things I’ve learned below. It Always Gets Done The first thing I do every day is write my To-Do list. Sometimes it fills an entire page, and that’s when the anxiety sets in. How am I ever going to get to all of it?? What I’ve finally learned is that the important things actually get done, and anxiety over the list does not help. Eat the Frog Do the hardest thing first, then scratch it physically off your list. If I get through the most annoying or painful tasks first thing in the morning, I feel unburdened for the rest of the day. Procrastination Creates More Work I never put off a decision if I have enough information to make it now. The more small decisions that are delayed, the more unmanageable the To-Do list becomes, and you enter dreaded “analysis paralysis” territory. Wait 24 Hours Before Sending That Email But DO procrastinate in this case: if you’re itching to send an email that you know will not be well received by the recipient, wait 24 hours before you hit send. Trust Your Instincts But Back Them Up With Facts I love running the numbers and making business decisions based on available data. I adore spreadsheets! But sometimes you’ve just got to go with your gut. I’m A Classic Catastrophizer My brain always resorts to the worst of all possible worlds, but I’ve learned to question what exactly IS the worst thing that can happen in any scenario? And how likely is it? Do NOT Stick Your Head in the Sand Does a toothache EVER get better if you ignore it? Take action at the first sign of trouble. Stick-to-it-iveness Likely my daughter’s least favorite word as she’s heard it so often! Everyone has great ideas, but few have the stick-to-it-iveness to keep going when it gets tough. Lots of people think The E List happened overnight, but that’s far from the truth. I believed in the idea and hoped I had the wherewithal to see it through. It took three years before I made a dime. Know Your Personal Circadian Rhythm I can get a full day’s work in before noon, and am at my best between 6am and 10am. I’m hopeless at 3pm, so I save that time for mindless tasks like deleting endless emails (and no, I never catch up). Mission Statement I’m a big believer in business plans and projections, but lots of small businesses don’t bother. One thing I encourage is writing a Mission Statement. The mission for The E List Shop is to make women happy and feel good about themselves. If a decision or opportunity comes up that I’m on the fence about, it helps to decide based upon whether or not it aligns with our mission. Understanding That Money is Not The Only Motivator for Employees Company culture, generosity with discounts or days off, regular meetings, even free coffee, contribute to a happy team. Figure out what motivates yours. Failure is Part of the Process My biggest wins have probably come from lessons learned from failures. And I’ve had my share. When something is clearly not working, recognize when to quit, take to your bed for a day or so, then dust yourself off, and keep moving forward.