I AM CEO PODCASTProductivity

IAM1718 – Remote Hiring Expert Connects Businesses With the Right Fit

Podcast Interview with Nathan Hirsch

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Nathan has lots of energy and knowledge. It was great to hear about his business and how he started it. He has a wealth of knowledge including talking about things such as launching with an MVP and diversification and why that's important in hiring.

I AM CEO Handbook Volume 3 is HERE and it's FREE. Get your copy here: http://cbnation.co/iamceo3. Get the 100+ things that you can learn from 1600 business podcasts we recorded. Hear Gresh's story, learn the 16 business pillars from the podcast, find out about CBNation Architects and why you might be one and so much more. Did we mention it was FREE? Download it today! 

Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2019/07/06/iam327-remote-hiring-expert-connects-businesses-with-the-right-fit/


The full transcription is only available to CBNation Library Members. Sign up today!


Nathan Hirsch Teaser 00:00

We have virtual assistants, freelancers, and high-level agencies, so depending on what people want, I would put our speed against anyone out there. You put in a request, we fill it out within a business day. You can meet the person, interview them, make sure you like them, you can hire them.

If you don't like them, you click pass and provide us feedback, and we get you someone else based on the feedback. So it's a pretty fast and efficient process.

Intro 00:23

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you are in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:49

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do and is actually a core part of your business. If you are a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, if you're a cleaning company, an author, or speaker, you are using technology. If you are in any business, you are using technology, and if you're not, then you're probably going to be disrupted by an organization that is.

So this month we are going to look into purposing episodes that are around technology, whether that be firms or organizations that are actually using and investing in technology as a core part of their products and services, or potentially those individuals that are using and leveraging CEO hacks and CEO nuggets that center around technology and sharing ways that we can leverage it as well. Remember that you are a technology company that does dot.dot.dot. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Nathan Hirsch of Free Up.

Nathan, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Nathan Hirsch 02:19

Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Great to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:21

Super excited to have you on. What I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about Nathan so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

And Nathan Hirsch is a 30-year-old, 10-year entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and e-commerce. He started his first e-commerce business out of his college dorm and has sold over 30 million online. He's now the Co-founder and CEO of Free Up, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted virtual assistance freelancers and agencies, and e-commerce, 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.

Nathan, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Nathan Hirsch 03:00

I am ready and pumped up. Let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:03

Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to hear what I call your CEO story and what led you to start your business.

Nathan Hirsch 03:09

Yeah, so growing up my parents were both teachers and I always grew up with a mentality that I would go to college, get a real job, work for 20, 30 years, retire, and that was gonna be my life. And it was never more evident than during the summers when I was working 40, 50 hours a week. All my friends were outside playing and I learned a lot about sales and marketing and customer service.

I also learned that I just hated working for other people. So when I got to college, I looked at it as a ticking clock. I had four years to start my own business or I was gonna go into the real world and have bills and rent due, and I was gonna have to get a job and I might not be able to turn back. So, I started experimenting and I created a book business. I started a referral program, and actually got a cease and desist letter from my school cause I was competing with the school bookstore.

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So that was my first glimpse into being an entrepreneur. And from there I pivoted a little bit. I learned a little bit about Amazon from selling these books. This was back in 2008 before the gurus and the courses. No one really knew what Amazon was so I thought it was cool, I could have this 24/7 storefront. I just had to figure out what to sell, so I started experimenting with outdoor equipment, and sporting equipment. And I just failed over and over and over. And it wasn't until I branched out of my comfort zone and found the baby product industry that my business really took off.

So if you can imagine me as a 20-year-old single college guy selling baby products on Amazon, that was me. I got a lot of weird looks. It was fun, and I was making money for the first time. I thought I should probably pay taxes. So I met with an accountant and the first question he asked me was, when are you gonna hire your first person? And I shrugged them off, like, why would I do that? That's money out of my pocket. They're gonna steal my ideas. They're gonna hurt my business. And he just laughed in my face and said, you're gonna learn this lesson on your own. Well, sure enough, my first busy season comes around the fourth quarter and I just get destroyed.

I'm working 20 hours a day. My social life goes down, my grades plummet, and I get to the other side and I think, man, I can never let that happen again. I need to start hiring people. So I know nothing about hiring. I post a job on Facebook. This guy messages me from my business law class. I say you're hired. Didn't even interview him. And he ends up being an amazing hire. He is my business partner Connor. I have a picture of him somewhere over here. But he's on my Amazon business. He's the COO of Free Up. So I hit jackpot right from the beginning. And there I am thinking, man, this hiring thing is easy. You post a job on Facebook, someone shows up, you make more money, your life becomes easier, and I just proceed to make bad hire after bad hire, after bad hire. Quickly learning that college kids are not very reliable.

Moving into the remote hiring world, Upwork and Fiverr, I've made some good hires. I have some people that are still with me eight years later. But I also just hated how long it took me to post a job, get a hundred applicants, and interview them one by one. And I kept looking for something faster. And when I couldn't find it, I said, you know what, I'll build it myself. That's really how the Free Up Marketplace came about where we get thousands of applicants every week that the top 1% get on our platform, making them available to people quickly with no minimums, no maximums, and 24/7 support on the backend.

No turnover guarantee where if they quit for any reason. We cover replacement costs and I really launched Free Up with $5,000 as a side project with a minimum viable product, and minimum viable software, and really grew it from there to where we did 9 million in revenue last year. So that's the short version, of how I went from college kid to books to Amazon to eventually Free Up.

Gresham Harkless 06:46

Nice. I love that story and I love the whole kind of lessons learned throughout all that because you just kept experimenting and now you have Free Up which largely came from an experiment. And you hear like a lot of the really great products and services that come about just because you're testing out something and then it blossoms from there.

Nathan Hirsch 07:01

Yeah, a lot of entrepreneurs think that they know what's going to work or they know what the market wants or they know what's going to sell it. The truth is that you just don't until you do a lot of trial and error. There are books you can read and there are some courses you can take and you can cut corners here and there, but there's no substitute for just trying different things, different low-risk, high-reward situations. And really reading the market, and asking for feedback.

When we started Free up, we didn't plan three years in advance because who knows what it's gonna be like in three years. We focused on getting that minimal viable product out there, getting feedback, and making improvements over time based on that feedback. And it leads to some pivoting and some tossing and turning. But you eventually can read the marketing, get to where you wanna be.

Gresham Harkless 07:43

Exactly.  Absolutely love that. And I wanted to hear a little bit more about Free Up. I know you talked about exactly how the process goes. Is there a certain type of industry that you find or a type of person, I should say entrepreneur, business owner, that is a really good fit or is it just a mix and kind of like what you feel is your secret sauce and sets you guys apart?

Nathan Hirsch 07:59

Yeah, so I mean we started off in the Amazon community because I was a longtime Amazon seller. And then we expanded to e-commerce businesses, so Shopify and eBay, and then we expanded into marketing. So marketing influencers, marketing agencies, and marketing kind of trickles into every other business out there. Now we work with every different online business, real estate agents, nonprofits, software companies, you name it. So if you're a business owner in 2019, you can hire remotely.

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There are a lot of benefits to hiring remotely. So for us, we wanna make it as easy as possible. So for us, the vetting sets us apart. We only let on one out of every hundred applicants that apply to get on our platform to offer services to our clients. We have virtual assistants, freelancers, and high-level agencies. So depending on what people want, I would put our speed against anyone out there. You've put in a request, we fill it within a business day. You can meet the person, interview them, make sure you like them, you can hire them. If you don't like them, you click pass and provide us feedback, and we get you someone else based on the feedback. So it's a pretty fast and efficient process. I would put our customer service against anyone.

My calendar's right on the website. I have people that cover my Skype email and live chat 24 7. If you have even the smallest issue, we're there. And that no turnover guarantee. I haven't heard of anyone else that has that yet. Where if someone quits, we cover all replacement costs and get you a new person right away. So those are the main four things. For me, it's all about time because as an entrepreneur you can always make more money. You can't get your time back. So anything that gets you access to talent faster, to me is a win.

Gresham Harkless 09:28

Absolutely. Yeah. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This might be an app, book or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Nathan Hirsch 09:39

So I like to wake up early. I'm up like 6.00 or 7.00 AM every day, some days even earlier than that. And for me, that's my quiet time. When my brain is fresh, I don't have any stress from hours before. I have, hopefully, a good night's sleep, and no one else is waking up for a few hours.

My assistants aren't bothering me, and I can just get projects done. I can plan for the week ahead. And, I didn't use to do that. I came from a business I started in college where I could sleep till 11:00 AM every day. And, you feel late all the time. And now, there might be a random day, maybe I come back from travel on a red eye, where I do sleep in a little bit and you almost feel like you never get caught up. So for me, waking up early has just been a huge key.

Gresham Harkless 10:16

Yeah, that's definitely like you said before the world starts to wake up you get to wake up and knock out whatever you need to get done, and then by the time the world wakes up, you've already done so much to get the day started. So I love that CEO hack.

Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or piece of advice, or if you can hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Nathan Hirsch 10:37

Oh man, great question. So in my first internship, keep in mind I've never had a quote and quote real job after college. So my only working experience was these internships that I had. I had this one manager who was a great manager on paper in terms of the numbers stored pretty well. But he was an awful manager in terms of the day-to-day working with people. He used to micromanage, he would talk down to people, and he would be mean and aggressive and make you feel uncomfortable. And no one really liked working with him, but he got stuff done because he would threaten people and make sure that he got stuff done or fire people that wouldn't listen to him.

So when I first started being an entrepreneur, I didn't know how to be a boss. I didn't know how to manage people. So what did I revert to? I reverted to the only managerial experience that I ever had and I can tell you it led to a 50% turnover. It led to a lot of pulling out my hair, a lot of wasted time and energy, and a lot of people not wanting to work with me, and it all clogged the pipe, so to speak, of what we were trying to do.

So it took me years and years before I started asking for feedback and really focusing on myself, how can I improve my managerial foot process? How can I become a leader instead of a manager? And I feel like the old way of talking down to people, and I'm the boss and what I say goes, and you need to listen to me, just doesn't fly anymore. And it's gonna be very tough to retain people. It's gonna be very tough to grow a business if you don't learn how to manage in a better way. I wish I had learned that a few years earlier.

Gresham Harkless 12:01

Yeah, but better late than never. That's what they always say. And it's funny, I always heard like the symbol of power and strength was always the rock for the longest. Just like it sounds like your first manager was, but now they say it's like water because water is permeable. It can go around and through anything. And it can also connect with anybody. So it sounds like that's some of the shifts that you made.

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Nathan Hirsch 12:20

Yeah, completely agree. And you got to adapt. Certain people get managed in a different way. Times change things. Social media becomes more prevalent like there are so many just different outside factors you have to take into account. If you're not constantly listening to people, it's gonna be tough for you to make those adjustments.

Gresham Harkless 12:35

Absolutely. So it's great to hear that you were open to feedback and actually took that feedback and implemented it as well too. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show.

So, Nathan, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Nathan Hirsch 12:50

Oh, man. For me, it's all about making sure that you go to the top with other people. I think before I was so focused on money and how successful the business was and getting to the top, but it wasn't until I kind of looked at the big picture. It's like, I don't wanna be at the top of myself.

I want my assistants and my business partner and our partners and our clients to all grow and get better too. So that's what a real CEO does, is he not only gets himself to the top, but he brings everyone else along them with them for the ride and really leads them in that right direction. So for me, that's what being a CEO is all about.

Gresham Harkless 13:22

Absolutely. I think that's very well said, and I truly appreciate that definition. I truly appreciate your time. What I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and then of course, how best they can get ahold of you.

Nathan Hirsch 13:35

Yeah, so back in the day, I'll share with you one of my biggest mistakes. I hired a manager of the day. I thought it would be a good idea to hire one person, and teach them how to do everything. Spent six months teaching them how to do it. On the flip side, I had this one supplier that I really liked working with.

They were 85% of the business. I said, you know what? I don't care about the other 15%. Let's focus on this supplier. Spend a lot of time setting it all up. Have my business on autopilot. One person's managing everything. That's one supplier's crushing it go on My first vacation in probably a year, a year and a half, and on the first day the manager quits on me and the supplier drops me.

Gresham Harkless 14:10

Oh no.

Nathan Hirsch 14:11

So it was brutal. I went from this whole business I had created to starting all over again. But I learned a very valuable lesson about diversification when I came back, I started building relationships with lots of different suppliers. When I started hiring again I had one person for customer service, one person for listing, and one person for pricing.

So if someone quit, I could just replace them right then and there. I didn't have to spend six months onboarding them again. So for me, that was a huge lesson. I think a lot of entrepreneurs fall into that trap one way or another. Maybe hiring's hard and you make some bad hires and you finally find someone you like. So you have that tendency to just load that person up with everything. You've got to diversify in all aspects of your business and really protect yourself.

Gresham Harkless 14:53

Yeah, that makes perfect sense, especially in this day and age, and with so many opportunities to hire people and find people just like Free Up that you have ways to be able to diversify on a lot easier basis than probably at any other time.

Nathan Hirsch 15:06

Definitely. And you mentioned how people can find me, I'm really easy to contact if you go to FreeeUp.com with three E's. My calendar's right at the top. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and the real Nate Hirsch. You can check my podcast, the Outsourcing and Scaling Show, and check out my group Outsourcing Masters.

If you do wanna hire people, create a free account and mention this podcast for a $25 credit to try us out.

Gresham Harkless 15:27

Awesome, awesome, awesome. We'll make sure to have those links in the show notes. And again, it's Free Up with three e's dot com so we'll have that in the show notes as well.

So Nathan, I truly appreciate you and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Nathan Hirsch 15:37

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Outro 15:39

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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