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Hiring hard-headed entrepreneurs could benefit your startup, this M’sian boss shares how

Learning the stories of entrepreneurs in Malaysia for the past few years now, I’ve realised that they share a similar DNA. It’s this mindset of not settling until they find the solution to a problem.

Because founding and running can take up most—if not all—of their time, it’s been said that the only people who can understand them are entrepreneurial peers as well. Hence, the emergence of new friend groups and support systems.

Carliff Rizal takes this one step further, and hires entrepreneurs to work for his own company. He’s the founder of YesHello, a chatbox SaaS for teams that you can learn more about in a full feature we’ve previously written.

About a year into operations, YesHello’s lean team back then comprised seven staff, six of whom were entrepreneurs themselves.

They thrive on momentum

YesHello’s founder noted that the main difference between an entrepreneur and your average employee is in their mindset.

Entrepreneurs are driven by momentum, Carliff stated.

When an entrepreneur finds something exciting, they have a tendency to jump into the problem, working on it until it reaches its 80% to 90% completion rate. Though he sees it as a pro, he acknowledged that it can still be a bit of a con.

“A lot of entrepreneurs tend to not get as excited about that thing anymore [at that rate], then move on,” Carliff said.

“Entrepreneurs feel that when the momentum is gone, we feel like it’s the end of the world. So we will look for other things to do, and projects to be a part of.” 

That natural motivation and drive to be doing something is the main element Carliff appreciates about working with entrepreneurs.

But Carliff doesn’t just hire based on whether someone is an entrepreneur or not. He hires based on the presence of an entrepreneurial mindset in a candidate, as that’s most important to him. 

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They’re stubborn (and that can be a good thing)

Entrepreneurs are somewhat stereotyped as being hard-headed and unable to listen to instructions from management. After all, they are often their own boss in the companies they’ve started.

Sometimes, I even have to pull them back, which is great. I’d rather they go too far and take a risk, then having me say that you’ve gone too far, than having me always push them to do things.

Carliff Rizal, founder of YesHello

As a manager of entrepreneurs, Carliff has to ensure that momentum is kept up in his team. In terms of how that looks like as an actionable, he sets up their goals like a game.

“We have weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual games that we can win. My job is to have everything be clear for them to play that game, so that they’re always in momentum,” Carliff shared.

In essence, his role is to do is channel his team’s energy to focus on a mutually specific goal to achieve for the company. 

They’re constantly on the search to create change

Something that Carliff said during our interview that took us aback was that he felt the biggest benefit of hiring entrepreneurs is that they are weird. But he didn’t mean it in a derogatory way.

“Weird people are the ones who have the goal of changing the world,” Carliff explained. “Even if they don’t know how, they are in the search of how to change the world.”

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Encouraging his team to set clear results as goals, Carliff would then send them on their way, allowing them to find their own paths in achieving them.

If they get stuck on something, Carliff ensures his door is always open for them to seek help.

Another beneficial trait about entrepreneurs is that they’re not judgemental. YesHello’s team know how hard it is to run a business, since they’ve tried it themselves and even experienced failure. 

“So when they come into another startup, they suggest ways to try things and if it doesn’t work out, it’s fine,” Carliff said.

He added that there’s also less drama and gossip between entrepreneurs who know that meddling in such noise is unproductive to the company’s goals.

“You pick the right people, and that means 99% of your time is spent on achieving goals,” Carliff believes.

Paying entrepreneurs

Since the talents Carliff has gathered to work for his company aren’t fresh grads or new professionals who are still wet behind the ears, you might be wondering, how does YesHello afford to pay its team?

“I’m upfront with them, I truthfully tell them that I can’t pay them much,” Carliff disclosed.

“I’ll pay you let’s say, RM1,800 to RM2,000, maybe. But I’ll make it up by teaching you how I create products, and what is the mindset when we [do certain things].” 

The entrepreneurs who work under Carliff will learn about the behind-the-scenes values of running a business that would otherwise take 10 to 15 years of experience to learn.

Understandably, not everyone would agree to such a deal, but those who see the value that Cardiff can give to them beyond monetary incentives are the ones who end up joining him.

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Via a mutual agreement, the entrepreneurs he hires aren’t expected to work full time at YesHello. They are still allowed to run their own businesses and do their own things.

Ideas are cheap

With all these entrepreneurs pooled together in Carliff’s startup, we wondered, does he not have the slightest concern that his staff would steal his company’s ideas?

“I’m not too concerned about people stealing [because] ideas are so cheap. Everyone can have ideas. No matter how great the idea, it’s the discipline of implementation that’s the hardest,” argued Carliff.

Even if an idea is present, there are steps that need to be thought out, steps that need implementation which is specific to an intended goal.

To do that requires a lot of discipline, heartache, money, and failure, sacrifices that not everyone is willing to go through. “The pie is big enough, am I worried? Not so much,” Carliff concluded.

-//-

Carliff believes that your ability to build a team is directly related to your ability to be successful in life. He also shared that he wouldn’t be able to build a team he loves working with so much if he had just settled for team members without the entrepreneurial mindset.

This interview was done as part of our ongoing Vulcan Post video series, Open Book, and you can watch Carliff’s video interview here:

  • Learn more about YesHello here.
  • Read about other Malaysian startups here.


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