Let's Get Down To Business: 6 Entrepreneurial Questions With Datin Liza Abu Hassan

Leadership

November 10, 2017 | BY Kathlyn D'Souza

She is a very motherly, genteel woman, this Datin Liza Abu Hassan, or more fondly known as Datin Leez. Being no stranger to the SME circle, the entrepreneurship circle as well as here at Malaysia Tatler, her many business endeavours include consultancy firm Adla Group, fashion line Leezarra and laundry service Sparkleen, but this busy mother of six is showing no signs of stopping. Alas, a woman of many parts can never be held down by anything she sets her mind to. With so many women aspiring to be like her, we jumped at the chance to interview her and pick her brains regarding the entrepreneurial scene.

Photo courtesy of Malaysia Tatler/Shaffiq Farhan/Syahlia Albina Sari
1

What do you like the most about being in entrepreneurship?

“I find it to be mentally stimulating. I am able to harness talents. Even in a small company, I try to incorporate a bit of the corporate setting where they would learn more rather than be slapdash about it. I always tell my staff that I may not be able to give you the best salary nor benefits, but I will train you so that when you go out there, you would know exactly what to do. Flexibility of time in entrepreneurship I think is the biggest reward. You would be able to dictate what you want to do, and not report to anyone. For me, once I’ve reached this level, it’s very difficult for to go back and report to a boss.

“I think as entrepreneurs, we have been trained to be very on-the-go. We cannot follow the books too much. Infrastructures change very fast and sometimes we have to make split-second decisions. It’s a bit hard for the corporate world to accept, but that’s how we have to do it.”

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Let's Get Down To Business: 6 Entrepreneurial Questions With Datin Liza Abu Hassan
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com @ State Farm
2

And in constrast, what do you dislike about it?

“Whether we like it or not, 80% of us in Malaysia fall under what we call micro entrepreneurs. We’re not even SME when it comes to categorisations. So that is the biggest challenge that we are facing, and it involves a lot of investments in terms of branding … and you have to be very careful in the areas that you delve into, because it’s all about investing yourself in the right areas. Many make the mistake of geting into branding without even thinking. We get too excited about building ourselves that we forget about our business.”

“Passion is very important, especially when you want to become a long-term player in the industry. If you want monetary gain – at certain festival seasons, for instance – that’s fine, that’s OK. But long-term, you have to know what your strengths are, otherwise it’s hard for you to move on.”


“Passion is very important, especially when you want to become a long-term player in the industry. If you want monetary gain – at certain festival seasons, for instance – that’s fine, that’s OK. But long-term, you have to know what your strengths are, otherwise it’s hard for you to move on.”


 

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3

What would you say to the millenials seeking their big break in the entrepreneurial scene?

First, make sure that you go into a business that you are passionate about.

Second, make sure that you master your trait, and on top of that, you must also master other areas that you are lacking. You must go out there and equip yourselves with the knowledge in accounting, human resource or marketing for example. Some people are just good at one thing, but to run a business, it’s more than just selling. I’ve done a research where I found that 80% of entrepreneurs are good at selling, they have no issue – you can give them anything and they can go out there and sell. But the sustainability is the biggest challenge here, because they are not equipped with skills required to run the enterprise. I advocate life-long learning, in fact I am working with Asian Metropolitan University – we are targeting anyone that has been in the work force for 5-10 years to do executive MBA classes.”

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Let's Get Down To Business: 6 Entrepreneurial Questions With Datin Liza Abu Hassan
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4

How can one get into entrepreneurship?

“Come to my Masterclass! [laughs] I have a programme that is called S.A.F.E.R Masterclass [at Adla] – the pathway to entrepreneurship. It’s a 12-week programme, where we teach people the A-Zs on how to build their business in the right way, up until a level where it reaches sustainability.

“But to start off, it’s all about the mindset, and work-life balance. You can go into entrepreneurship, destroy yourself and learn from making mistakes after mistakes earlier on, but in this day and age, we try to cut it short and decrease the number of mistakes. Last time they said entrepreneurship cannot be learned, but you actually can, and a lot of universities now have that subject.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com @ polkadotcreations
5

And now, tips for work-life balance

“It’s quite simple. The way I manage my life is like this: go by priorities. For me, there is no surefire way achieve the perfect work-life balance, whether it is 50% spent at home or 50% at the office or what-have-you.

“But all I have to say is, one, I always make sure my faith is right. No matter what, whatever that may come, it has to come from Him. Seeing gratitude regardless of what religion you are. You must know that it comes from Him. He can give you any time, and He can take it back from you any time. Two, I list my priorities. My children and my family are always my top priorities, then comes myself, then my business, and the community at large. I’ve been following this for a long time, and it has worked well for me. For example, when I do up my calendar, I normally will block everything pertaining to my children first. School holidays, exams, birthdays. That goes first on the calendar. That’s how important they are. Then the rest will come in.”

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Let's Get Down To Business: 6 Entrepreneurial Questions With Datin Liza Abu Hassan
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com @ Kumar Appaiah
6

Finally, pointers for being a good boss

1.     Have an open-door policy

2.     Give your employees working hours flexibility

3.     Advocate work-life balance

4.     Coach them and give them one-on-one sessions

5.     Challenge them, but do not micro-manage.