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GCM 16 | Remote Hiring

 

Serial marketer and expert in remote hiring and eCommerce, Nathan Hirsch, brings in some great insights into the world of being an entrepreneur, in finding value in what you do, and in pursuing what you love. His success story began in his college dorm room selling books, which later introduced him to Amazon and eventually led him to discover the business of remote hiring. Since then, he has co-founded his own company called FreeeUp, an online marketplace that connects businesses to pre-vetted freelancers. He shares how he overcomes the struggles of being an entrepreneur and gives some great advice on remote hiring as well as starting your own business.

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Remote Hiring And The Freedom It Gives Your Business with Nathan Hirsch

I have a special guest here on the show, Nathan Hirsch, CEO of FreeeUp. He’s going to tell you his story and what he’s doing in the world. He’s doing great work. He has a tremendous business. He’s what I would call an ultra-entrepreneur. The reason why I call him that is because the guy’s young, he’s successful, he’s been through some challenges, and here he is making a ton of money. He’s making an impact on the world and making a difference. He has taken the time to be here with us to share some of his knowledge and wisdom as well as letting you in on what he’s doing at FreeeUp and how FreeeUp can help you. Nathan started his first eCommerce business out of college in his dorm room. He sold over $30 million worth of product online. He’s the CEO and Co-Founder of FreeeUp, which is a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers and eCommerce, digital marketing and so much more. He’s appeared on many podcasts before. He’s taken the time to be here with us. Mr. Nathan Hirsch, welcome to the podcast.

Rodney, it’s always great to talk to you. Thanks so much for having me.

I’m glad you’re here. Thank you for being here. Tell the audience a little bit about you and what you’re up to.

I started off back in high school. My parents used to always make me get summer jobs. You have to understand that I went to the high school that my dad taught at, which was a town over from me. At that high school, everyone’s parents were doctors, lawyers, dentists, they were incredibly well-off. My parents were both teachers. We weren’t poor or homeless, but we didn’t have what all my other friends had. I always wanted that. I wanted those PS4s and the nice cars. I was driven by money. During every summer, my parents made me work 40, 50 hours a week at these summer jobs and internships while all my friends were out playing. I hated every second of it, but I learned a ton. I learned everything from sales to customer service to how to manage other people. I also looked at it as if I didn’t figure out how to build a business while I was in college, I was going to graduate and go back to that 40-hour-a-week job. That is what I wanted to avoid.

I started this book business out of my college dorm room because I realized that the school bookstore was ripping everybody off, paying back pennies on the dollar. I opened up this book business. I created a little referral program. Before I knew it, I had students out the door trying to sell me their books. That was my first glimpse into being an entrepreneur. From there, books led me to Amazon. I started doing a lot of trial and error. I tried cool products like video games, computers and outdoors equipment. I couldn’t get anything to sell. It wasn’t until I branched out of my comfort zone and found the baby niche industry that my business took off and started expanding. From there, I had to start hiring people. That’s what led me into the remote hiring world and eventually, the idea to come up with a faster way than the Upworks and the Fiverrs and create FreeeUp. That’s my story from a high school kid who always wanted more to a broke college kid to starting two companies.

GCM 16 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: If you want to be an entrepreneur, expect failures but don’t forget to lose sight of the big picture.

 

I would imagine that there were a lot of challenges and obstacles. Most college kids don’t have a lot of money, they’re struggling and they’re trying to get by. Here you are wanting to go start a business. What type of mindset did you have to have in order to start that? In my mind, that’s a little risky to go off in college because mom and dad are probably saying, “Graduate, get a good job,” but you have your own goals and dreams. What was that like to make that decision?

There were a lot of factors. My parents were both teachers, so they thought that the correct path was going to college, getting a job and working for 40 years. I’m fighting against that. Although they’re supportive, they definitely were pushing me in that direction. Once I created this Amazon business, people didn’t understand it. People did not understand why I was selling baby products. I’ve got a lot of weird looks. People were thinking that I was running a scam and I didn’t have a real job. I’m fighting on both angles and one of the things that I learned early on is you got to block it out. You have to focus on what you can focus on. You have to be kind and respectful to other people and give them as much information as possible. Even with social media, FreeeUp is everywhere. You might get someone that says, “Great, another freelancer marketplace. What another scam.” We’ve got to block the person and move on. There are always going to be the haters, the doubters, you’re surrounded by them at all times. Early on I got into the mentality of, “I want to be an entrepreneur. There’s going to be failures. Let’s focus on the big picture.”

Are you doing this by yourself? I read in your bio that you’re a Co-Founder of FreeeUp. You have a partner and how has that been working out? Sometimes partnerships don’t work out. How has that helped you in your quest for entrepreneurship?

One of my first hires on my Amazon business was this guy named Connor. I hired him and as soon as he’s about to work his first shift, he gives me a call and says, “I don’t have a car. Can you come to pick me up?” I’m thinking, “What a joke. Who is this guy?” I go and I pick him up. Every day, I pick him up and bring him back and forth. I teach him a little data entry work, but every drive home, he was curious about the business and he wanted to know more. He was excited. I eventually made him my partner in my Amazon business.

When I started FreeeUp, he started off part-time with FreeeUp because he wanted to start his own blog. He had started another company. We were still running the Amazon business together. He was trying to figure out, “Do I want to go to the VA route? Do I want to start my own thing?” Once FreeeUp started to take off and we realized that we were gelling well for the second time on this business, he had dropped all the other stuff and started working on FreeeUp. FreeeUp was my baby, I started it. He was in from the beginning part-time and within a year he was doing it fulltime. With the Amazon business, it was me for the first six months, eight months, he was my first hire and then he became my business partner within another six months.

Everything is a learning experience. Click To Tweet

I would imagine FreeeUp must have been doing well for him to drop everything that he was doing and start this fulltime with you. I know the audience is wondering what is FreeeUp? What do you mean by FreeeUp? What is this all about?

Connor and I worked well together. He’s much more of a long-term, content-driven person. I’m much more of a sales-based, process, customer service-type person, it gels well. The whole concept of FreeeUp was we were hiring all these freelancers because who is going to work for us? We didn’t want to hire more college kids. They weren’t reliable. No 30-year-old wanted to come and work for a 20-year-old. We started hiring freelancers. We used everything from Upwork, Fiverr, OnlineJobs. What we realized was we would post a job, get 50 people to apply, interview them one-by-one and it took forever. We wanted something faster. I remember I get eight straight hours of interviews and I didn’t find one person that I liked. I picked up a chair and threw it against the wall at our old office, which is not like me. I was like, “There has to be a better way. We need something better.”

When we couldn’t find it, we built it ourselves. We get hundreds of applicants every week, freelancers from around the world. We vet them not only for skill but for attitude and communication as well. Take the top 1%, let them in, and make them available to clients like you all around the world. Rapid fire whenever they need them. We have great 24/7 support on the back-end with a no turnover guarantee. If the freelancer quits, we cover all the replacement costs. That happens, but it’s there to protect them. The whole concept of FreeeUp is to spend less time doing the recruitment and the interviewing and more time growing your business.

Do you offer all kinds of freelancers? Is it specific niches or areas that you offer for business? What is your span in terms of freelancers?

When we first started, we were Amazon sellers. We created this freelancer Amazon marketplace. In the first year, people liked it. They told other people in eCommerce. We’re getting Shopify, eBay, Walmart sellers. From there, they started telling their business network. Now we do marketing agencies, software companies, real estate agents and coaches. It went from very niche to now we offer 100 skillsets, freelancers from $5 to $75 an hour, US and non-US. Everything from customer service, content writing, graphic design, marketing, web development, you name it.

How long have you been in business?

This is year three. We did $1 million in the first year, $5 million last year, and now our rates are around $9 million.

GCM 16 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: Being entrepreneurial means having to face problems and issues everyday.

 

What are some of the challenges that you’re currently facing at FreeeUp? You are doing well, you’re growing. It sounds like you are making a lot of money, but I have to believe that there’s some type of resistance that you’re currently facing.

Part of being an entrepreneur is every day there are problems and issues. It’s just a matter of how big or how small they are. You’ve got three sides of FreeeUp. You’ve got finding clients, finding freelancers and the software that holds it all together. When I first started FreeeUp, I didn’t look at us as a software company, which is what we’ve become. When you get to a certain point, people’s expectations of what your software is getting higher and higher. Not to mention we’re competing with the Upworks and the Fiverrs of the world, and their software budget is way bigger than ours. I’m not a coder. I’ve dealt with developers a little bit in Amazon because we built our own re-pricing software, but this is a totally different animal.

It’s got to be able to accommodate all different kinds of clients, all different kinds of freelancers. It’s software that monitors time, does billing every week, does even more than our referral programs, our links affiliate, there’s so much going on. It’s a constant battle. We have 100 pages of add-ons we want to do to our software and we’re always coming up with new ideas. We’re getting feedback from all different angles. It’s a constant struggle of, “What do we prioritize? Do we prioritize this three-month project, one-week project? Where do things slide in?” That’s what we’re currently figuring out.

You’re a CEO, you’re making millions of dollars, and here you are with this challenge. For a lot of people, if they started making millions of dollars, they will feel like they have a lot. Challenges that come up, they may not feel as compelled to deal with them. It’s like, “I’ve made it here.” I’m sure there was a big mountain to climb. Given where you are, what type of mindset keeps you going? What type of mindset would you have to have in order to tackle issues like that?

Let’s take it back to the Amazon business. We’re doubling every year, similar to FreeeUp. This was before the courses, the gurus and the people that are teaching Amazon. In our mind, we’re thinking, “This is easy. We’re doubling every year. We can put not much effort into it. Nothing matters because Amazon is growing.” Then all the courses and gurus come out. When the business stabilizes, we’re not growing every year. I almost have regrets that we could have done more. I feel if we had structured it differently, we could have even been those gurus to those courses. We didn’t read the market that well, in my opinion. With FreeeUp, you learn from your mistakes. We’re growing at a rapid pace, but we know that we’re one competitor away from going out there.

Learn from your mistakes, and try new things. Focus on the low risk and high reward. Click To Tweet

Someone who can offer a better service, even though I do think it’s harder to copy than the Amazon business. That drives me, also the people around us. One thing that I learned and got out of that mentality of when I was younger, and I wanted money, products, and all that is it’s no fun to be alone at the top. I want to grow together, whether it’s Connor or our amazing 30-person team that crushes it for our clients every day. I want to build something that’s sustainable for everyone where everyone continues to rise. That’s what motivates me way more now than it did back in the day where it was much more, “How much money can I put into my pocket?”

How important is learning to you? I heard you say, “We’re still learning and we’re executing based on some of the things that we’ve learned in the past.” I have this philosophy that you never stop learning. Everything is a learning experience. As you go to a higher level and you face challenges, there’s still yet something to learn. What are your thoughts about that?

Every entrepreneur makes mistakes, doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are. There are a lot of mistakes along the way. What separates entrepreneurs that I’ve seen successful, and it’s cool with FreeeUp I get to meet a lot of entrepreneurs than I did with my Amazon business, the good ones learned from the mistakes. They don’t make those same mistakes again. Yet, I meet other entrepreneurs that continue to fall in that same exact habit over and over and they’re not adjusting. They have this mindset of, “This is how my business needs to be run. This is where my business is going to be,” and they won’t let any feedback, lessons, market adjustments. Nothing will change that. They continue to struggle over and over. Learning, adjusting, problem-solving, and putting steps in place to prevent those same things from happening is important.

GCM 16 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: What separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest is that they learn from their mistakes and avoid making those again.

 

I love what you are doing at FreeeUp. You are helping entrepreneurs. We live in the information age and it seems a lot of people are starting to get out of the 9 to 5 mentality and start creating things on their own. They’re expressing themselves and the talent that they have, and that requires them starting a business for some people. How can FreeeUp be helpful to someone who’s just starting out, doesn’t know a lot about business but have this wonderful idea and it needs some help getting off the ground?

Hiring is important, it is key to running a business. They don’t teach you how to do it in school, although they should. It is the difference between success and failure. We live in an amazing time. The gig economy is booming. In the next ten years, over 50% of the workforce is going to be remote. You don’t have to go out and hire someone for $100,000 full-time anymore. You can hire people project-based or part-time or for a set amount of hours a week. You get access to all this talent from all over the world and you can focus on what I consider low-risk, high-reward situations. What works for one business doesn’t work for every single business. That’s why a lot of people that follow the guru’s straight edge without figuring out their own stuff fail. The gurus are great, they provide information, but you still have to apply it to your own business.

What I mean by low-risk, high-reward. I hired someone to run my Twitter, run my Instagram. How much does that cost me? A few hundred bucks a month. What’s the worst-case scenario? Three months go by, I realize it’s not working or they tweet something I deleted, and it costs me $600. That’s pretty low-risk, it’s about as low-risk as you can get. What’s the best-case scenario? They take it completely off my plate. They’re getting leads, I’m getting new clients, I’m growing my brand, I’m growing my presence. As an entrepreneur, now that you get access to all these freelancers with different skills, you can invest in a lot of low-risks, high-reward situations. Not all of them will work, but you figure out what works, and you put more money into it. When you figure out what doesn’t work, you pull back. Never before have you had that ability to dive in with different talented people from all over the world and figure out what works for your business.

Being an entrepreneur is full of risks, and hiring is no different. Click To Tweet

I would imagine that a lot of entrepreneurs that are reading this, in their minds they’re probably thinking, “If I hire this person, what if it doesn’t work out? Is this person vetted? How good is their work? How do I find out?” How do they get that warm and fuzzy to say, “This is a good investment?” Can you explain that a little bit to ease the mind of someone who may be thinking that?

We spend a lot of time vetting these people, whether it’s the skill where we have skill tests. We spend a lot of time developing the attitude. The one-on-one interviews we do to make sure that they care about more than just the paycheck, they’re passionate about what they do, and they want to help the client’s business through their communication. We have fifteen pages of communication best practices that they have to memorize and get tested on. No one has a 100% hiring record, it doesn’t exist. There’s always going to be a risk. Being an entrepreneur is full of risks and hiring is no different. Even if you hire your best friend to sit next to you or someone that has this huge track record of success that’s helped five of your friend’s businesses grow fast. There’s always a chance and it’s not the right fit for your business or that they do something stupid and jeopardize your business in some way.

The chances are a lot lower than you think. On the security side, I’ve been hiring for eight years. I’ve never had one security issue. FreeeUp has been around, we’d bill over 12,000 hours a week, never had one serious issue. I’m sure if we bill enough hours, eventually something will happen. The percentages are a lot smarter than people think and you have to be able to take those risks if you want to get to the next level. How many $5 million solo businesses do you know?

I don’t know many. I’m happy to know you are doing well. How would a person start? I know many want to be entrepreneurs. I know a lot of people with great ideas and they want to hire people and sometimes that stops them. How does someone get started with FreeeUp?

There are two ways. One, my calendar is at the top of the website. You can book a free call with me. I’d love to talk to you about your business and how I can help. Second, if you click Create a Client Account, mention this podcast, you get a free $25 credit for signing up. Creating an account takes a minute. Once you have an account, anytime you need a freelancer, click request a freelancer at the top. Answer the eight questions so we know exactly what you’re looking for. It takes another minute. Within a business day, we’ll introduce you to some options. You can meet with them. We don’t even need a payment method unless you want to hire them. If you like them, you click hire, and you’re good to go. If you don’t like them, you click pass and provide us feedback and we’ll get you someone else based on that feedback. It’s a fast, rapid-fire process. That’s what it takes to at least meet people and at least interview people. If you’re unsure, you’re not ready, there’s no harm in getting that interview experience and seeing what’s out there.

I want to share my own personal experience. One of the things that I noticed whenever I was using your company was that I had a plethora of people that could do the job that I was looking for. What made it unique is the contact information was readily available there and I can set up appointments with those people. It was quick and easy. I got on the phone or got on a Zoom call, I interviewed all of them. I was able to make a conscious and intelligent decision based on those interviews. The other companies, Upwork and all, it’s not that seamless. I felt like it was harder to set that up and I felt there were some restrictions with the communication with the person that you’re trying to hire. That’s my own personal experience. What differs you from the other competition out here?

It’s four things. It’s the pre-vetting. Anyone can go out and create a Fiverr or Upwork account and offer their services. We reject 99 out of every 100 applicants we get. There’s a big pre-vetting process. Second is the speed. I challenge any company to be faster in terms of the matching and the customer service. We have instant support at almost all times. We have clients who submit requests and get started within hours or minutes of submitting that request. We’re pretty fast. On the back end, I mentioned the 24/7 support, that’s three. Four is our no turnover guarantee. Freelancers in our network rarely quit. It is real life, of course, it can happen. If someone does quit on you, we cover all replacement costs and get you a new person right away. Your business never takes a step backward. You can sleep better at night knowing that you’re protected. A lot of businesses out there is one person quitting away from spending the next six months or three months in a downward spiral or stalling out. We never want that to happen with our clients.

Things change and they allow you to grow, prosper, and expand into something that’s even better than what you thought before. Click To Tweet

Go to the website FreeeUp.com if you’re an entrepreneur looking to hire someone and don’t want the headache of going through that process. You want more of a seamless process. Take it from me, my personal experience. This company is amazing. You seem to be at the top, it seems you’re rising. You’re competing with the major freelance companies out there. Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?

One thing about being an entrepreneur after you’ve done it for a while is you get numb to the ups and the downs. When you’re on a down, you don’t think your life is over and you think you’re going to figure it out. When you’re on an up, you’re never satisfied because you know that you’re one or two things away from going in the other direction. For us, we haven’t given up. We haven’t stayed complacent. We are going forward full steam ahead. We’re working to partner with other influencers and partnerships. We have a few partnerships lined up that I can’t talk about, but we’re incredibly excited about. Hopefully, those end up closing. We want to change the hiring industry because we feel ten years ago the hiring industry did change with all these freelancers and freelance marketplaces. Now, it’s been done the same way over and over. We want to shake that up. Connor and I are fully focused on that. One last thought on Connor and me, he is much more of a long-term thinker, where I’m more focused on, “What can I do this week to get to the next level?” Asking me where I’m going to be in five years doesn’t usually get a great answer.

What would you say to a young entrepreneur out there that may be looking to be where you are one day, to have a million-dollar business, whether it’s in freelance or some other industry? What would you say as a seasoned, successful, and game-changing entrepreneur?

There’s no better time. I read some article, and I’m going to butcher the numbers, but it was something along the lines of ten or twenty years ago you needed around $500,000 to start a business. Nowadays, you need a few thousand. My Amazon business, I started with $200. There’s no better time to try out being an entrepreneur. It’s not for everyone. There are days where being an entrepreneur is not as glamorous as it seems. Sometimes there’s a Saturday night that you want to be hanging out with your friends and some issue comes up. There are also a lot of benefits and there’s that financial freedom. There’s the life freedom. There’s the ability to learn and grow and not work for someone else where the money’s going into their pocket. The opportunities are out there. Learn from your mistakes. Try new things. Focus on the low-risk, high-reward. I’ve seen many people create successful businesses and sometimes they end up completely different than that original business they thought they were going to build.

GCM 16 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: Being an entrepreneur gives you financial freedom and life freedom, that ability to learn and grow and seek opportunities that are out there.

 

Sometimes we have the vision in mind, but you have to be flexible in that vision at times. Things change and that allows you to grow, prosper and expand into something that’s even better than what you thought before. It enhances your skillset or focuses on a particular skill set and allow you to express that in a mighty way better than what you thought before. It sounds like that is something that happened to you in your life. I appreciate you for sharing that. Where can people contact you?

I am incredibly easy to contact, whether it’s social media, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out the FreeeUp Blog. My calendar is at the top of FreeeUp.com if you ever want to book a time with me. Definitely reach out to me, reach out to my team. You can even book a meeting with Connor. We’re there to support you. We want to help you. We want to meet you and get to know you. That’s what FreeeUp is all about.

Nathan Hirsch, ladies and gentlemen, joining us from FreeeUp. The CEO and Co-Founder of FreeeUp.com. Check it out. I want to thank you for joining us. I love what you’re doing. Keep doing what you’re doing. Any last words for the audience?

Thank you so much for having me. I look forward to continuing working with you.

Thanks a lot. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us. Thank you for being here.

Are you ready shed your past, rise above your present, and go confidently in the direction of your dreams? The first step? Decide. Choose right here and now to make a move. Set your intention. Then simply ask Rodney for help. http://rodneyflowers.com/mentoring/
Want an inspirational story and a magnetic personality plus interactive actionable strategies to transform your audience? Book Rodney for your next event. http://rodneyflowers.com/speaking/

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About Nathan Hirsch

GCM 16 | Remote Hiring

Nathan Hirsch is a serial entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and eCommerce. He started his first eCommerce business out of his college dorm room and has sold over $30 million online. He is now the co-founder and CEO of FreeeUp.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers in eCommerce, digital marketing, and much more. He regularly appears on leading podcasts, such as Entrepreneur on Fire, and speaks at live events about online hiring tactics.

 

Are you ready to shed your past, rise above your present, and go confidently in the direction of your dreams? The first step? Decide. Choose right here and now to make a move. Set your intention. Then simply ask Rodney for help. http://rodneyflowers.com/mentoring/ 

Want an inspirational story and a magnetic personality plus interactive actionable strategies to transform your audience? Book Rodney for your next event. http://rodneyflowers.com/speaking/

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