Going from employee to entrepreneur has a lot of great advantages like flexibility and freedom but you need to become very disciplined from the beginning, otherwise you will start developing new bad habits that will hurt you in the long run.
Robert Moutal is the Co-Founder and Director of Client Happiness at Clarity Wave, an employee engagement and workplace climate software system, which allows companies to survey their employees in a fun, easy and powerful way.
Prior to co-founding his company, Robert worked at a Spanish-language TV and Radio company with over 1,200 employees. He started as Production Manager, then as General Manager, VP of Community Affairs, VP of Creative Marketing Solutions and Salesforce Administrator. Along the way he won 16 Emmy Awards for his work, both behind and in front of the cameras. As General Manager he managed around 100 people both in San Diego and Tijuana.
Robert is originally from Mexico City and in 1998 he moved to San Diego where he enjoys the beautiful weather with his wife, twin sons and daughter. In his free time you can find Robert playing drums or taking pictures of landscapes.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The idea for Clarity Wave came during a conversation I had with my brother, Alex. See, I worked for over 17 years in the TV and Radio industry. I started as Production Manager and moved up the ranks to become General Manager of one of the TV stations and then Vice President of Creative Marketing Solutions. In 2013 I got transferred from San Diego to the corporate office in Los Angeles and I started reporting to a brand new “hot-shot” EVP the company hired from Mexico City. She was the definition of a “terrible fit”. She was arrogant, loud, disruptive and rude and, her actions and behavior created a very toxic environment that led to the resignation of multiple high-level VP’s. The main problem was that there was no mechanism built into the company that would allow for people like me to give feedback to the CEO and voice our dissatisfaction with the leadership team.
On the other hand, my brother, who is part owner of 24 Häagen Dazs stores all over Mexico, was having a similar issue. He had a huge turnover problem with his 150+ employee base. He wanted to implement a feedback system that would allow him to learn what was causing his employees to jump ship at an alarming 100%+ turnover rate per year.
So, we got together and decided to create a system that, not only gave the company a lot of feedback about itself, but also gave each individual employee insights to help them improve.
We wanted the software to be anonymous, gamified, include a rewards store and be quick, fun and easy to use. We wanted it to be weekly and thus give the business owner frequent “waves of clarity”. And thus Clarity Wave was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day starts with my checking emails for any potential issues that might have come up during the night. Since we have clients all over the world, we sometimes get messages in the middle of the night from Australia, Kuwait, Dubai or South Africa with support questions that I answer while getting ready to go to the gym at 6am.
After making sure everything is taken care of I put on my salesperson hat and start sending emails to try to set up appointments and follow up on any leads and prospects.
My most productive time is when I get in front of a client and show them what Clarity Wave can do for them, so my whole day is geared toward getting prospects to sign up for a demo with me. The chances of closing a sale go up exponentially whenever I get to chance to show the software live to a person.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Through the Rhodium Weekend mastermind I met an amazing couple from Switzerland who later became our partners and late co-founders. The four of us bring to the table a completely different set of skills that we desperately needed. Alex has been in charge of development and his vision for what Clarity Wave should look like is what allows me to wow our clients every time I do a presentation. Daniel is the quintessential Swiss businessman. He’s extremely analytical, organized and fanatical about project management. Elena, his wife, is great at creating marketing automations, deep thinking and problem solving, and bringing in traffic to our site. Together, we meet multiple times a week (across 3 time zones) to discuss any new features or strategies that we’d like to implement in our software.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I never thought that Employee Engagement and Satisfaction would become such a growing trend in countries that are usually not thought of as very employee-focused. US companies have led the charge when it comes to improving the workplace climate but, today, a lot of our clients come from countries like Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Bolivia, South Africa, Dubai, Kuwait and Turkey.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It’s taken me a while to learn, but making sure I assign any lower-value activities to one of our many virtual assistants is the key to growth and not going insane in the process. Whenever I find myself doing something repetitive I immediately create a new process for it and teach it to one of my assistants. This ensures that my time is spent on activities that bring in the most amount of money.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Start early. It took me almost 5 years (and an unexpected layoff from my day job) to fully focus on growing Clarity Wave. For a long time I had been toying with the idea of working 100% in Clarity Wave but with two sons in a private film school and slow-growing sales, fear was the biggest driver of my decision to remain in a dead-end job. So, my advice would be to take a risk, have a plan and have faith in your abilities.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Hmm, I wish I were such a deep thinker that I could come up with a Galilean-style of universal truth that nobody else agreed with me. I don’t consider myself a trailblazer or revolutionary of any sort but rather a student of other great teachers. So, most of what I think comes from an amalgamation of other people’s ideas.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Serve. Be a servant leader. Be helpful to anyone and everyone. Help your prospects, help your clients and help your employees do their job. Sometimes people will take advantage of you but know that, in the long run, having a reputation of service and always doing the right thing really pays back with interest.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
After trying different inside-sales companies that got us absolutely no business (and cost us around $15,000) and after multiple PPC Google and Facebook campaigns that got us just about the same results, we found a company that has proven to be a great source of leads.
Growbots is an AI-driven company that finds high quality leads, all over the world and allows me to send them multiple email campaigns to promote Clarity Wave. The system is smart enough to identify between a cold and warm response and even reschedules emails based on out-of-office responses.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We wasted a lot of time and resources trying to find a strategy that worked. As mentioned above, we tried inside sales, hiring a salesperson (before we had learned how to do sales ourselves), hiring a digital agency, etc. Eventually we returned to basics and began selling our software the old-fashioned way, through grit and perseverance.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve looked all over for a Gmail extension that would allow me to delegate some of my email activities to my VA but without giving them access to ALL my folders (which contain sensitive conversations and information). So far I haven’t found anything that works.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My Hamilton Beach 41020 electric kettle ($50) and my Yeti 30oz Rambler ($50).
I’m an avid tea-drinker and since I bought this kettle with multiple presets, I can get the right temperature for the different kinds of teas I drink (green, black, oolong, etc). The Yeti rambler is HUMONGOUS and keeps my tea warm all day long.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Pipedrive. I’ve always known the importance of a CRM (in my previous job I was actually was the Salesforce administrator for the company). Pipedrive is not only a lot cheaper than Salesforce but it’s extremely simple to use and it allows me to keep track, not only of my prospects as they move through our sales funnel, but also of our clients as they move through our Client Experience funnel.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Atomic Habits, by James Clear. After making the move from corporate life to being a full time entrepreneur, it’s very easy to start focusing on the wrong things and creating a new set of bad habits.
What is your favorite quote?
99% is a bitch, 100% is a breeze
- Being an entrepreneur is a real rollercoaster ride and the highs are really high but the lows can be devastating. It is not for the faint of heart and at some point you’ll have to decide whether you’re fully committed to your business or not.
- Creating processes early on will allow you to multiply your efforts by having a larger number of people doing the lower-level activities.
- Have a good CRM and make sure you use it every day as your brain outside your head.
- Going from employee to entrepreneur has a lot of great advantages like flexibility and freedom but you need to become very disciplined from the beginning, otherwise you will start developing new bad habits that will hurt you in the long run.
- Always give more than you receive. Give to your clients, give to your employees and give to your friends.