7 lessons learned from my years as an entrepreneur.

By Payam Zamani, Founder & CEO

My entrepreneurial journey started at the age of fifteen. I have started many companies and failed almost as many times as I’ve succeeded. Here are seven key lessons I’ve learned that you may find helpful.

1. Do not – especially if you have a family to support - give up your day job.The best ideas often come about during our free time. Not necessarily from giving up our source of income to pursue something that can be highly risky. This sounds harsh but needs to be said: Most start-up ideas don’t pan out.

2. Don’t try to raise money until you have a proven concept.Investors want to see that you have invested your time and effort – and even your savings – into your idea. Investing your own funds and resources shows that you are committed and less likely to give up when you hit a road bump along the way. And trust me, those bumps are sure to come.

3. Find yourself a co-founder.Maybe even two. A co-founder with complementary skills or assets can bring a wealth of knowledge and some much-needed support. There is no question that venture capitalists are more likely to fund entrepreneurs that have a partner in place. At the same time – having more than three co-founders can become a liability, so make sure to find your sweet spot. 

4. Find a strong and capable mentor.  Find yourself a mentor, and not one who is also a family member. You’ll need somebody who will tell you hard truths and not just what you want to hear. You want someone who will be honest and direct with you about your idea from every angle – its strengths, its weaknesses, and those things that may be in your blind spot. 

5. Persevere.You will hit roadblocks – that’s a part of the journey. 

6. Be prepared to quit at the right time.Persevere, yes, but know that your time and energy is a valuable resource. Don’t waste time and resources on an idea that is not panning out. Know that you may face a time when you must accept that this idea has failed. It’s time to pivot, move on to the next idea, or head back to the corporate world. 

7. Pursue joy and happiness.Building a business for only the sake of getting rich is an archaic way of thinking. Make sure that your goal is broader and more meaningful than that. It should also include service to others because, ultimately, it’s only through service that we find true and lasting joy. I can list hundreds of entrepreneurs who’ve made huge profits but are miserable. As often said, money alone is not going to make you happy. If however, you find a way to use your resources, expertise, and cash flow – a substantial portion of it – to make the world a better place, it will bring you joy and satisfaction that is unattainable from money alone. Make your journey meaningful rather than looking for a quick cashout.