By Johanne Adam
University of Ottawa alumnus Aydin Mirzaee is the co-founder of online survey provider Fluidware, which was acquired by SurveyMonkey in 2014. He also co-founded Freshfounders, a club of young Ottawa entrepreneurs who meet several times a year to exchange tips, compare notes on service providers and pool their connections. In his keynote speech at Startup Weekend Ottawa, which took place at uOttawa November 19 and 20, Mirzaee shared some tips with participants.
1. Just get started
Many people overanalyze things. Once you start talking about and planning a project, you will end up changing it. But if you wait around for the perfect or the “super new” idea, you will never get anything started at all, because there is no perfect idea.
2. Have strong beliefs that are weakly held
Don’t be stubborn. Be strong on the vision, but flexible on the tactics. In other words, learn from your environment and the market. Never assume you’re going to be right — you will have to change your project along the way. Many times, you will be wrong and make mistakes, but that’s all right. Just make some tweaks.
3. Take risks, but not disproportionately
People think that entrepreneurs are risk takers. While that’s true, entrepreneurs usually know how to protect their downside. So you want to take risks, but you must be able to bounce back if it doesn’t work out. You have to make sure that you don’t get wiped out if you’re wrong.
4. Work hard
You have no control over many things in life, such as place of birth or family, but one thing you can influence is how hard you work. Step up to the plate enough times and keep at it and eventually, you will hit a home run. Be persistent and demand more from yourself than anyone else would.
5. Find a mentor
You need to have mentors along the way. You will discover things on your own, but it will take a lot longer. Don’t be arrogant and don’t be the smartest person in the room. If you are, you’re probably not surrounding yourself with the right people.