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IAM1747 – CEO Connects Businesses With Pre-Vetted Freelancers

Podcast Interview with Nathan Hirsch

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of CEO Podcasts, Nathan Hirsch, co-founder and CEO of, talks about his expertise in remote hiring and eCommerce. is a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers in eCommerce, digital marketing, and other areas. Hirsch has sold over $30 million online and is a regular guest on business podcasts like Entrepreneur on Fire. He shares his insights on online hiring tactics and how businesses can benefit from the gig economy.

Hirsch also provides links to his website, social media profiles, and Facebook group for outsourcing masters.

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Nathan Hirsch Teaser 00:00

That's what we want to do, is help people create that rock star team who's not just in it for the paycheck. They actually believe in your company, believe in your business and they're gonna be there for the long term so you can continue to make better and better investments.

Eventually, when you grow a team, you don't wanna just be one person up here managing 25 different VAs. You want team leaders and assisting team leaders and structures and communication channels.

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're 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're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories or topics or as I like to call them, the 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 our greatest asset- talent management and hiring. Think from great resignation to the great renovation and if you disagree with me, maybe these episodes might be especially for you. Life and especially business has changed. It has forced those that are within organizations to look differently at talent and how it's being managed.

When we talk about change, think about it, we have to realize that business as usual is no longer here. That's evident in attracting and retaining clients, but also in setting up people within organizations to succeed. Think onboarding, think DEI- diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. How it is working from home and even going back into the office.

Things are different in this month. We are going to explore these topics by featuring CEO hacks and CEO nuggets, but also interviews that focus on these changes and how organizations can make sure they care for and attract the most valuable asset- their people. 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 Freee Up. Nathan, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Nathan Hirsch 02:20

Great to be here, man. Excited too. Happy holidays.

Gresham Harkless 02:23

Yeah, happy holidays to you too. Super excited to drill down a little bit deeper and hear about all the awesome things you're doing. You've definitely been on our show before, what I wanted to do is just reintroduce you to Nathan so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Nathan Hirsch is an entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and e-commerce. He's the co-founder and CEO of and founder of Outsource School. Free Up is a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers and e-commerce, digital marketing, and much more.

The Outsource School is a school that actually teaches people how to leverage and use VAs and virtual assistance in order to be your business. He has sold over $30 million online and regularly appears on leading business 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 03:10

I am ready.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:11

Awesome. Let's do it. So I wanted to drill in a little bit deeper, hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story and what led you to get started with your business.

Nathan Hirsch 03:19

Yeah, so I was a broke college kid. Before that, my parents were teachers and I always grew up with a mentality that I would go to school, get a real job, work for 30 years, and retire. My parents always made me get these summer jobs, which I hated, but I was working 40 hours a week. I learned a lot about sales and marketing and business and customer service, and got a glimpse into what life was like after college.

When I got to college, I was like, I want no part of that. I don't wanna get a real job. Let's start hustling and see if I can start my own business. Through a lot of trial and error, I sold people's textbooks and eventually got a cease and desist letter from my college telling me to knock it off because I was stealing too much of their business. I pivoted from textbooks too, I had sold some books on Amazon. I tried to sell different products on Amazon and I really just failed over and over and over at selling sporty equipment and outdoor products and all this different stuff.

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The only thing I could get to sell were these books, and it wasn't until I branched out of my comfort zone and found the baby product industry that my business took off. So I got into Amazon at a great time. This was 2008. No one else was doing it. There were no courses or gurus. I found a great niche in baby products and this business took off. I eventually had to start hiring people. I hired college kids who were not very reliable and wasted a lot of my time and my money, and no one who was older wanted to work for me. So I eventually got into the virtual assistance space, hiring VAs in the Philippines and all over to handle different operations they were more affordable, more reliable. I could keep them long-term. Really learned the entire process of hiring from the ground up.

I was 20, 21, 22, I knew nothing about hiring. I probably didn't even know where the Philippines was on a map. I really learned through a lot of trial and error, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of turnovers. I used all the other platforms out there, the Upwork and the Fiverr and I always wanted a better, faster way. Finally, I built my own platform four years ago. Free up. The idea of Free Up is we get thousands of applicants every week. Vet them, top 1%, get in, and make them available to people quickly whenever they need them on the backend 24/7 support in case people have even the smallest issue and a no-turnover guarantee.

If people quit for any reason, we cover replacement costs and get them a new person right away. People love that concept. We partnered with lots of great people, and influencers in the e-commerce and marketing community.  and we actually grew the business using virtual assistance. We hired VAs from our own platform. We had no office, we were entirely remote. We had no US employees, all the customer service, the billing, the recruitment, the social media, all done by VAs and Freelancers. We scaled that business from a $5,000 investment to doing over 12 million a year.

We actually just sold that business a month ago to a great group over at the HOTH who were actually one of Free Up clients. They're an SEO back-lane company. The owners are awesome. We did a lot of due diligence on them, and one of the coolest parts of the deal was we were able to give hundreds of thousands of dollars of the deal to our internal team in the Philippines to thank them for helping us grow such an awesome business.

Gresham Harkless 06:17


Nathan Hirsch 06:17

I'm gonna miss the internal team. That's by far the worst part of selling Free up, but, they're in good hands. La Haw is gonna take great care of all the clients and partners, the internal team. They're gonna grow free up and expand it and make it better in ways that Connor, my business partner and I couldn't.

Now I'm here today launching Outsource School. If you go to, you can get on our waitlist there. Really a course on how we use virtual assistance, how we interview them, how we onboard them, how we train them, how we schedule them and manage them and motivated them because that was a big part of why we were able to sell Free Up is having such an awesome internal team.

It didn't happen by accident. It happened because we learned so much from our Amazon business that when we started Free up, we could hit the ground running and we knew what we were doing. So that's a short, long version of how I went from a broke college kit interning at Firestone to selling textbooks, to selling daily products, to starting free up to selling free up to starting out Outsource School.

Gresham Harkless 07:07

Nice. So I know you touched on it a little bit, but I wanted to drill down. Could I hear a little bit more about the Outsource School? Tell us what we can expect and just all the things that kind of make it, I guess what's the secret sauce for that and what makes it unique?

Nathan Hirsch 07:19

Yeah, so I've always had the mentality that you can go to free up and get great VAs, great freelancers. I highly recommend them even though I'm not part of it anymore. They're awesome. They're gonna take good care of you. But if you don't know what to do with the VAs other than the fact, it's only gonna do you do so much good.

I've wasted hundreds of thousand dollars on turnover. I've been frustrated. I've made these mistakes. I'm not training people the wrong way, not motivating people, not giving people the right bonuses, whatever it is. So I wanted to break it down into structure. How do I actually interview virtual assistants? So part of the course you're gonna watch me and my business partner Connor, interview different VAs from free up for different jobs, and what are the questions we ask, but also what are we looking for? What red flags do we see? What are some of the potential superstar that we see in someone from that interview? Stuff that we only know because we've been doing it for so long and have interviewed who knows how many virtual assistants.

The average person probably doesn't know that. So from interviewing to onboarding, and I like to separate onboarding and training where onboarding is giving them background on your company, what's acceptable what's not acceptable, the culture, the team, how you communicate. Really giving them the basics of what to do and what not to do, which for me  is they need to know that before I start investing my time into training them on the actual processes, because if I get them good at the processes, but everyone on the team hates them and they can't follow the other stuff, that doesn't do me much good.

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So, Onboarding, how to train, how to make great SOPs, how to make those better over time and then also how to manage them. Because once you've invested all this time, your money, your energy into someone, you don't want them to go work for another company, you want them to stick around. You want them to be motivated, you want them to care about your business.

With free up our 14 leaders, Mario Cheeks, Jane Laden, they were all about Free Up. They love Free up. They put their heart and their soul into free up and they're not going anywhere. They wanna see free up, grow and reach its full potential. So that's what we wanna do is help people create that rock star team who's not just in it for the paycheck. They actually believe in your company, believe in your business. They're gonna be there for the long term so you can continue to make better and better investments. Eventually, when you grow a team, you don't wanna just be one person up here managing 25 different VAs. You want team leaders and assistant team leaders and structures and communication channels.

So we wanna walk you through whether you don't even know what a VA is, which will be the first module if you are building a large team and you need to make it more scalable, which would be towards the end and we wanna cover that start to finish.

Gresham Harkless 09:43

Yeah, that's definitely awesome. I always say, begin with the end in mind. I think if you're able to tap into that, obviously you can go through the trial by fire and do every try to do everything yourself and lose lots of years, lose lots of experience.

When you have that kind of somewhat of an easy button or cheat code I usually like to say, where you can take a course and learn and take in so much information from all the experience and things that you guys have done well and things that you wish you would've done better and you're able to learn from that.

Nathan Hirsch 10:06

Exactly, and listen, people might disagree with me. There might be different VA ways to hire VAs that I don't know about. I can only speak for what's worked for me on my Amazon business and free up and that's what I'm gonna teach at Outsource School.

Gresham Harkless 10:18

Yeah, that'll definitely be awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be something that's you were mentioning in the school. What's something that you feel is an app, a book or a habit that you have that makes you more effective and efficient?

Nathan Hirsch 10:32

Yeah, so let's move away from VAs cause we talked about that. One of the things, that I like to do, that I actually took a break from in the past week, but I'll be picking it up in the new year, is, every morning I like to reach out to three new entrepreneurs. I'm not trying to sell them. I'm not trying to pitch them. I just wanna get on a networking call, and see if I can help them in any way.

If I can, great. If there's a way for us to work together or collaborate, I'm all about it. If not, it's always good just meeting other people in the space and going in with that mentality, knowing that you're gonna get rejected. It's not that big of a deal. But you'll build such an amazing network. With the Amazon business, I got in at a weird time. Like there were no courses or gurus. No one really knew what Amazon was. So for me, and I was a young entrepreneur too, I wanted to keep it very secret, right? I didn't want to connect with other entrepreneurs.

I didn't want them to know what I was doing. I didn't want them to steal my business. Now I know that was really silly and I could have made a lot of great connections back then and probably had more potential on Amazon. But what I do with Free Up is from day one, I would reach out to three new entrepreneurs every day. Now, someday, no one would respond. Someday, one or two or three or other people would respond from previous days, and I would set up networking calls and over a year as years and months went by, I built great relationships, great partnerships, and just friendships. You never know how people are going to not only help you but just impact you going forward.

So for me, if you're not networking with other entrepreneurs, if you don't have a schedule and a daily reminder to do that, start doing it. It's been one of the biggest tricks of just scaling a business in general. The more entrepreneurs, the bigger network, the less you have to spend on ads and marketing and all that other stuff as well.

Gresham Harkless 12:05

Yeah, that makes so much sense and you never know who people know and that starts to create that community. The community sometimes we can't even see because you've just connected on just a genuine basis just to connect to see if you can help, see if there's some type of synergy.  When you're doing that on a regular basis, it starts to create that snow ball effects, it sounds.

Nathan Hirsch 12:20

Exactly. Completely agree.

Gresham Harkless 12:22

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or if you can hop into that time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Nathan Hirsch 12:32

You just got to get over rejection. Got to get over failure. We talked about networking, but at some point you're gonna have to do sales. You're gonna have to pitch partnerships and join ventures. You're gonna try to go after your dream client list and you're gonna get rejected. It's going to happen.

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But for me, it's important to be in that right mentality where people are busy, people are doing other things. How many times do you get pitched that you want no part of it. So stay respectful. Just because someone doesn't respond to you or someone says no doesn't mean you get aggressive or angry.

I had an influencer who four years later, he said that I had reached out to him like 48 times, and he said he wasn't mad at me because every time I reached out, I wasn't angry. I wasn't aggressive, I wasn't pushy. It was just me being like, Hey man,  I know we tried to connect in the past. Would  love an opportunity to. Here's how I think we can work together. Very genuine, very nice and calm and not pushy. I've had podcasts that took me two years of pitching before they let me on, so don't give up.

Get into the mindset that if you're not failing, you're probably not pushing yourself far enough. You're probably not trying to go after those higher price clients or partnerships or whatever it is, and when you do get rejected, learn from it. Change your approach. Don't be as aggressive. Change your wording, change your structure. Send a video, whatever it is to tweak it and make it better over time.

Gresham Harkless 13:46

Yeah, a lot of times when we get that rejection or that kind of wall against us, it doesn't mean that you quit and you get into a ball and don't do anything. A lot of times it just means you have to change up your approach and figure out how to get around that wall, how to go through that wall or over that wall. But you have to do it in a different way. So I definitely appreciate that and that is something that we all should learn as entrepreneurs and business owners.

Now I wanted to ask you for what I call my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different CEOs on this show. So, Nathan, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Nathan Hirsch 14:16

To me, it's all about leading. You have to get your motivation, your ideas, your vision for the business into other people's head so that they drive the train and they build it and they use their skills that you probably don't have to build that business.

To me, that's what a CEO is. Now, there are business owners out there and there are pretty good business owners out there, but if they don't drive the business, the business doesn't grow and that's not what you want. That's not sustainable long term. You'll get burnt out. Who knows what'll happen in your interest, in your personal life, whatever.

So you need to get the mentality that you have to be able to motivate and systemize and get other people to grow your business. If you're doing that, then that's when you're in that CEO range.

Gresham Harkless 14:55

Yeah, absolutely. Especially like you talked about at the beginning of having that team and that vision of all these people that are able to work and be leaders within themselves as well too, as in addition to the quote and quote CEO, it creates that company culture, which you talked about that you've been able to build with Free Up.

Nathan Hirsch 15:09


Gresham Harkless 15:10

Awesome. Nathan, truly appreciate all the awesome things you're doing. Appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know. And then of course, how best they can get ahold of you, sign up for the school and find out about all the awesome things you're working on.

Nathan Hirsch 15:25

Yeah, so I'm answering all your virtual assistant questions. If you go to my Facebook, you'll find videos. If you have questions, I want to answer them. I wanna make sure they're included in Outsource School. You can follow me on social media, real Nate Hirsch, Twitter and Instagram. Find me Nathan Hirsch on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Definitely reach out. Definitely connect with me if you go to You can join our newsletter, join our waitlist. We'll keep you posted on when that goes live early in 2020, and you'll also get a lot of great just VA tips.

Hiring is one thing all entrepreneurs have in common. Unless you wanna be a sole entrepreneur the rest of your life, you're gonna have to hire people and it's one of those things they don't teach you in school. You're gonna either have to learn it from Outsource school or from someone else's teaching it, or you're gonna have to figure it out through a lot of trial and error and it's not something that I recommend doing.

So definitely check out Outsource School. If I can help you or in any way, just reach out.

Gresham Harkless 16:13

Truly appreciate that. We will have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can follow up with you. And I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:20

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at 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 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(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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