What are the biggest lessons you've learned from starting a business? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mark Jen, CTO and Co-founder at Common Networks, on Quora:

"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."

-- Albert Einstein

When we started Common Networks, we had theories on how to build next generation wireless networks that would be cost efficient, easy to scale, and fast to deploy. In practice, we had to eat a lot of humble pie and bang our heads against the wall, day after day, week after week. However, each time we had to overcome an obstacle, we learned something, and those learnings began to stack up over the days and weeks.

Which brings us to the second biggest lesson I've learned:

"Never give up. Never surrender!"

-- Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart (Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen))

Starting a business is hard. Starting a business in a well-established industry with large incumbent players that have massive incentives to have already tried everything to squeeze out every last dollar is really hard.

That being said, finding a unique opportunity where there has been a change in what technology makes possible and having incumbents stuck in the innovator's dilemma is really exciting! So while the road is harder than expected, the chance to fundamentally change peoples lives, an entire industry, and, in part, the world, is something that I think is worth putting in maximum effort to achieve.

The last big lesson I've learned is to apply a "regret minimization framework".

"[I] project myself forward to age 80 and say, 'Okay, now I'm looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have.'"

-- Jeff Bezos

Ensuring open, unlimited internet is accessible to everyone has always been one of my dreams -- my first technical job was working at a local dial-up ISP in the 90s while in high school! When we were kicking around ideas leading up to starting Common Networks and we pieced together an initial theory around modern mesh wireless networks, I knew I had to do it.

I come back to the regret minimization framework often, even when evaluating business strategies for Common Networks; when exploring the search space with new technology, considering new markets, and even thinking about team growth. It really helps push us to do the hard thing instead of just taking the easy way out -- but only when it makes sense (i.e. when we'd regret not exploring a path and the outcome justifies the costs).

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