Pedram Afshar founded Amaka, a “tech startup specializing in accounting integrations and business automation.”
With Amaka, Pedram Afshar continues his style of entrepreneurship. He specializes in “creating innovative technology solutions across several industries.”
Six years after starting Amaka, Pedram Afshar grew the company into a worldwide operation, and with a team of 30+ members.
According to Pedram Afshar, Amaka stands out because they are “flexible enough to take calculated risks and change our business model.” Besides “developing accounting integrations,” they also “maintain them and provide unlimited support.”
This flexibility allowed Pedram Afshar and Amaka to work with “world-class players in the industry, without having to compromise on professionalism, execution or delivery.”
Pedram Afshar also believes that entrepreneurs should be resilient. Being resilient to keep going despite challenges is the “biggest part of success.”
Entrepreneurs who want success must also have “itchy feet.” Pedram Afshar believes that successful entrepreneurs are filled with the “desire to move from place to place in business.”
As Pedram Afshar says, “Always look at the next potential opportunity rather than resting on your last one.” When you finish your latest project, you should already be “thinking about how to execute the next 10 in the pipeline.”
Over the years, we’ve been flexible enough to take calculated risks and change our business model. Pedram Afshar, Amaka
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Pedram Afshar: Over the years, we’ve been flexible enough to take calculated risks and change our business model.
On top of developing accounting integrations, we maintain them and provide unlimited support.
This has enabled us to work with world-class players in the industry, without having to compromise on professionalism, execution or delivery.
For example, Vend, a POS system, came to us after seeing how well we worked with other partners.
We built an integration that allows their customers to sync data with their accounting solution.
Then, we provide their customers with onboarding and ongoing support, allowing Vend to focus on their core product.
Jerome Knyszewski: Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Pedram Afshar: This is a great question! As a business owner, you inevitably get advice coming from every direction.
I’ve had to learn how to filter out advice that isn’t relevant to my unique situation.
For example, I was once told by a high-level team member to focus on enterprise deals.
To do so, I’d have to break the team in two and deliver on two separate business models. This ended up being a disaster.
The diluted focus led to diluted cohesion among the team.
If you’re not humble, no one will follow you.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Resilience: I have failed in many aspects of the business. Having the resilience to keep going is the biggest part of success.
We once launched a product that we had spent 6 months building and ended up almost no sales.
I hadn’t done enough research on the implementation and the go-to market strategy. Fortunately, I was able to learn from the disaster.
- Itchy feet: The desire to move from place to place in business is crucial.
Always look at the next potential opportunity rather than resting on your last one.
Generally, whenever we close a deal, I’m already thinking about how to execute the next 10 in the pipeline.
- Humility: If you’re not humble, no one will follow you. At the beginning of my journey, I let the very little success I was seeing get to my head.
It wasn’t until I was ready to let go of my ego and become humble that I was finally in a position to lead.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Pedram Afshar: As I mentioned a bit earlier, you’re bound to get all different kinds of advice when you’re leading a company.
In saying that, the one tip that I would give to help prevent burnout is to actually avoid trying to implement everything.
Remember that you have the most intimate understanding of your business and you have every right to pass on any advice that you don’t think is right for you.
People offer their opinions based on their own experience, which is completely fair, but likely different to yours.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs and founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Pedram Afshar: There are three main mistakes I see founders make, particularly at the beginning.
First, I’ve seen many people dive into a business idea without doing enough research.
It’s important to have a full understanding of how your solution solves a problem, where your solution fits on the market and how it compares to other options.
On the flip side, spending too much time on market research can be a downfall too.
Planning and talking to customers is important, however, these are things that can be done along the way.
You need to be jumping out of a plane and building a parachute on the way down.
Every day counts and you need to keep an eye on your cash before it runs out. Time is not on your side.
Lastly, a common mistake I’ve seen and have definitely made myself is looking for the big whale.
Looking for that massive deal that could make you successful is super common among B2B businesses.
However, I’ve learned the hard way that when you’re starting out, you want to avoid the whales. Catch a bunch of salmon instead. It’s much more sustainable! 😉
Every day counts and you need to keep an eye on your cash before it runs out. Time is not on your side. Pedram Afshar
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Pedram Afshar: This might be a little biased considering Amaka focuses on accounting integrations and business automation, however, I do believe people underestimate the importance of accounting processes.
Not only does staying on top of everything help to save you a lot of time, it helps to keep your records accurate.
As a result, you, or the accounting professionals you work with, can spend more time drawing insights from the numbers and using them to improve your business.
Often, your books should be an underlying factor in decision-making.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Pedram Afshar: I have been working on a charity concept over the past 6 months.
It would be utilizing the new economic opportunity and enabling participants to donate their time and money, in an effective and efficient manner.
Can’t give away the secret sauce, but it is at the implementation stage.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Pedram Afshar: As expected, you can follow me on LinkedIn! I’ve just started posting articles about my experience as a startup founder and I definitely will be posting more in the near future. You can also follow Amaka on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!