Outsourcing Like a Boss is one of the more popular podcast episodes that FreeeUp CEO Nathan Hirsch has been on.
This Private Label episode about outsourcing like a BOSS with Nathan Hirsch is an awesome session about starting an eCommerce business and hiring remote workers to help. We are sharing the full transcription with you here so that you can browse through it at your own pace to get the key points.
Kevin: Hey everyone, welcome to today’s show, to another episode of The Private Label podcast. Kevin here, I hope you have had a great weekend and are ready to just move in to the fourth quarter with a lot of speed and determination. And a lot of changes in the past couple of weeks on the Private Label front- we’ll be discussing those more in depth on this Wednesday’s “Listen and Learn” episode. So if you want my take on the recent Amazon changes in terms of their community guidelines, all of that good stuff make you sure you tune in on Wednesday.
Also, make sure to go to Privatelabelpodcast.com. Sign-up for our e-mail alerts. That’s where you get the first notification and any time something big like this happens I reach out there first and so make sure to do that. We’ll also be hosting a webinar this Wednesday on my strategies, my tips to skyrocket your Q4, your quarter 4 sales in preparation for the holiday seasons. To sign for that, just go to Privatelabelpodcast.com, click on the banner at top of the page to register for that free webinar.
Alright, you know I love having young people on the show. It’s just so inspiring to me to find people in their 20s or 30s that are just killing it with the private label business. Today’s guest did just that. He started a business that really just exploded while he was still in college. So he’s one of those gurus you hear about that ran a very successful business out of his college dorm room and started with text books, selling text books.
He then, created an empire and still selling online today, but it’s really the topic of outsourcing that has become his specialty. Nathan Hirsch is the founder and CEO of FreeeUp which is a marketplace that makes outsourcing to people like you and I, online entrepreneurs, super easy and simple. So please welcome our very special guest to the Private Label podcast, Mr. Nathan Hirsch. Nathan, welcome to the Private Label podcast.
Nathan: Kevin thank you for having me.
Kevin: Well I’m excited to have you, my friend, and you’ve got a really interesting story that I know a lot of people will be inspired by. You started in this e-commerce thing when you were really young, huh?
Nathan: Very young, I think I was 19 when i first sold my first book on Amazon. I started buying and selling text books. I was 19, learned about Amazon started selling there and it kind of opened up a whole new world.
Kevin: And just for some perspective how old are you now?
Kevin: Twenty-seven. So been selling online for eight years or so, obviously a lot has changed in that time. What led you to get into selling online? Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur or you’re just trying to make some extra cash?
Nathan: I always saw myself as entrepreneur just because I never wanted to work for someone else. All the jobs that I had, although I think I did a pretty good job, I just hated listening to other people’s rules, and having to wake at a certain time, and be there at a certain time and all that stuff. But I never knew that I can actually do it and be successful because I am a very logical person and I know that a lot of businesses fail. But I took a lot of entrepreneurship classes and that was my major. So it was always I wanted to do.
How I got into selling online, was I was a broke out student who wanted extra beer money. And I wanted to buy other people’s textbooks and the bookstores’ ripping them off and so I wanted to buy them back in the end of semester and hold on to them and sell them at the beginning of next semester and that’s really how I got my extra spending money when I was in college. And that once you started learning about selling text books it naturally led me to Amazon.com.
And then I realized that Amazon was just starting at the time to sell a lot of other products and there weren’t that many people on different listings. So I start finding different deal sights, different websites like the Walmarts and the Targets of the world, listing products when they would go on sale on Amazon and drop shipping then from one place to the other. And I built a huge business doing that, I was running a multi-million dollar business out of my college frat house, hiring my friends, making a lot of good and bad decisions. I had no idea what I was doing and no idea what to do with that much success at a young age. But yeah that was kind of the adventure of my hiring. I hired my first legal worker before I was legally able to drink.
Kevin: I love it. I love it, I would imagine your kind of your lack of experience and lack of knowledge at that point was kind of both a good and a bad thing right? I mean, some ways you didn’t really understand the gravity of what you were doing so you had less fear, less hesitation but in other ways like you just said, it would cause you to make some mistakes.
Experience and Risk
Nathan: Yeah, I’ve always been the kind of person, for example if I listen to a podcast, my opinion is, if someone teaches you how to do something then everyone goes out and does that thing. And then that thing that was successful is no longer as successful as it was before so I like to kind to take it with, not a grain of salt, but kind of put it into perspective, that, “okay it’s good to take that information”, but I want to try it out in a few different ways and kind to see what sticks, and that’s really how I developed the Amazon business.
I tried out text books and the pros were that the profit margin is high, that the con was I carry around a lot of text books which I really didn’t want to do and I didn’t see that as a long term career opportunity. But then I kind of gotten to drop shipping and I experimented in different ways, there are a lot of pros to that. The cash flow, the ability to not actually touch the products.
And that kind of lead me to the other cons because as it became more popular, there’s a lot of competition. You don’t have control of your inventory, there are a lot of cons that way, plus you’re relying on other retailers that you don’t necessarily have a relationship with, that can end at any time and you are relying on Amazon who can end that relationship at any time. So I kind of move over from selling, from retail to manufacturers, move from up north down south of Florida after I graduated for a lot of business purposes. And yeah I kind of forgot what your question was but that was where I was going.
Kevin: No, that’ okay were just talking about kind of how being young and in-experienced can be a blessing and a curse because in a lot of ways you know, it’s like kids right? The reason is it’s easier to learn to ride bike or to water ski or do anything when you’re young as you have no fear.
Kevin: Now I would imagine starting as an entrepreneur, so early on, kind of it was the same way. What if people think you’re dealing drugs out of the frat house.
The Early Days
Nathan: (laughing) I had no idea what I did throughout college it was crazy. I was like yeah I sold on Amazon. They, they’re like that’s a thing, that’s a job, you can do that? But they didn’t really understand it, and I kind of kept my business model secret. You don’t want to tell everyone your tricks on how you make money and all that. And I mean I was more paranoid back then because it was like, oh my God I am making money for the first time. I don’t want to tell anyone outside how I do it.
But yeah, I mean my mentality was always like, I’m young if I’m going to take risks and start my own business now’s the time. If I screw up, I’m kind of right back where I started and I can always go out and get a career. My grades are good enough, I had job offers at the college and it was always my last resort. So my advice is to take risk while you can.
Kevin: Yeah I love that and a lot of our audience will be thinking, Nathan that oh gosh I wish I was 19 and, and could have that, but empire builders, I really want to encourage you to take what Nathan has just shared and apply it to your own life. I don’t care if you’re 19 or 49 or 79. You know there still a lot to learn and a lot to accomplish but it requires getting out there, taking risks. I love what you just said if it doesn’t work out you start back where you were.
So Nathan you’re drop shipping was, I think is a fascinating model, definitely harder to do today than it was 8 or 10 years ago. But is there one particular item that you can think back that was just like, “wow, I can’t believe the difference” in what I can buy this from on this web site, from this wholesaler and what people are willing to pay on Amazon.
Nathan: It was crazy, so I found this bookshelf on Amazon and they came in few different colors white, black, brown, and I would buy it for 20 bucks and I would sell it for between a 100 and 150 dollars.
Nathan: And it was, even to this day probably the best profit margin I got on a product with such low risk. And yeah, I mean, the worst case scenario, if the customer complains I’m out 20 bucks. So yeah then one day they went out of stock and it was terrible. I was really unhappy for a while.
But that was like, it was in the first year and I probably sold hundreds if not thousands of them.
Kevin: Yeah, my buddy Sean Coin down in Austin who we’ve had on the show had a similar experience in his early days of e-commerce with a movie screen. He found a movie screen, I think he bought it on Target.
Nathan: Yup, I, sold the exact same screen.
Kevin: Did you? How cool…
Nathan: And yeah and then a lot of competition popped-up and it became not as popular to sell and they went in stock, in and out of stock every year. So . I know exactly what he is talking about.
Kevin: Interesting stuff. I think it’s always fascinating how we get our starts and in the early days. So alright you’re building this multi-million dollar business. You’re learning as you go. You’re kind of transitioning from one type of online sales to another. What happens next?
Outsourcing to an Online Army
Nathan: Yeah, so I started buying from manufacturers we opened an office. We increased our overhead. We hired a lot of workers. A friend of mine told me about Odesk which is Upwork now and I became determined to build an Odesk army because I thought it was the greatest thing ever. And my philosophy was if I am paying these workers $50,000 a year and their spending 25% of their time or 50% or their time doing this data entry or repetitive or easy tasks. It was incredibly inefficient and I am all about efficiency so I ended up giving these workers assistants that would take work off their plate and be able to really free up their time which will lead into my business, FreeeUp.
But hey, that was essentially the goal and it worked out very well. And we made a lot of money and eventually we made the decisions to that — it was a lot of risk going when you’re drop shipping especially when you’re scaling on Amazon – and Amazon is in really control of the situation. As you get bigger the quality control gets harder. So we kind of figure out that, that wasn’t the business model that was going to take me for the rest of my life and it kind of wasn’t scalable after a certain point. So we kind of squished everything back to remote. We shelved workers to this day and remote workers, but it’s kinda the small skies that maximizes the profit margin, while minimizing the work.
And me and my business partners have kind of moved onto other things. I still work with them on some other projects but that’s what really took me to my next business, FreeeUp, which was to make hiring easier because along that path when I was 20 years old when I was hiring my first worker, to when I moved to Orlando and I was interviewing people face to face, to hiring remote workers that entire time to compliment the in-house workers and hiring people from the Philippines, from India, from Africa for the first time, and having no idea what the culture differences was, I made a lot of good and bad hiring mistakes. So I wanted to create a way to help other people do that.
And my website FreeeUp.com, (with 3 Es’) helps people find workers that we already pre-vetted, we already put people through the system. We make them available to our clients who have had bad experiences hiring before, or they don’t have the time to hire or they have the process in place to make a really good hiring decision. But we can talk more about that later.
Kevin: Yeah absolutely definitely want to get into FreeeUp, and as I was sharing with you before we came on, I think the really cool thing about great tools and great software is that they are developed not by big think tanks or big corporate boards, but they’re developed by people like you and I, and people just like us that have a need and they’re born out of a need.
But I want to go back to this Upwork army. This O-desk army as you called it, Nathan, because you seem to at this point of wanting to outsource and wanting help a lot sooner than some entrepreneurs. For a lot of us it’s a struggle to get to the point we are ready to outsource. I see so many people waiting too long to get to that point. At what point did you get to the point where you wanted to outsource and bring on help and how do you think you got there so quickly?
Nathan: Well it goes back to my first busy season, back when I was twenty and I was running this big company and I was experiencing my first real busy season and I didn’t prepare at all and I didn’t have enough workers. And I went crazy, I was balancing my college grades, my girlfriend, my frat time, my business and a bunch of other things that you have going on when you are in college. And I only had one worker going into the busy season and I ended up working like crazy, didn’t sleep the whole time. I had a terrible experience and my mentality was to never let that happen again.
So when I moved down to Florida, and I started hiring this army and the business was growing at a rapid phase. I found myself working a lot. And plus, what I also realized is this worker was working at the same time as me and when you’re running an Amazon store, or running any commerce, it really is a 24/7 operation. The people who do very well had people watching their business at all times because anything could go wrong, any customer complaint can really hurt you when you want to respond quickly, fill orders, solve problems, especially when you are operating in a drop ship model where if you leave the business alone for 12 hours you could wake up with all these orders that you can’t even fill.
So I started realizing that the Filipinos can work at night because they have opposite schedules to us. So I started off hiring people and I would actually onboard them at night and have them monitor the account at night and do tasks so that they were ready to go when I woke up. And it’s actually something I teach a lot of my bigger clients. I work with the Step2 company which is a huge company. And they struggled with the same problem that I had when I was in my early 20s. And so we came up with a system for them to hire workers do all the work and have them on their desk by the time they wake up.
And that’s really how I first started outsourcing. They would do all the work and have it ready for me to check at 7 or 8am when I woke up. So then once I had a lot success doing that and I built a strong group of workers, and one of my first hires, her name is Chiqui Ann, and she’s actually my assistant to this day in FreeeUp. I started kind of pushing the limits on what could and what could not be outsourced from customer care, to filling orders, to handling my credit card information. What really was that limit and I kind of kept pushing and pushing and pushing it until I realized that most of my companies could be handled by remote workers, if not all by international remote workers.
Kevin: So what’s the right timing for an entrepreneur that’s listening to us, Nathan that maybe is not sure whether they’re to that point. They don’t have the same mentality that you had. And they’re not a college student with a girlfriend, and a frat house, and grades and an online business. Maybe they’re just running the business and they’re wearing a lot of hats themselves. How do you know when the right time is to start outsourcing?
The Right Time to Start Outsourcing
Nathan: Sure, so, to me there’s two real decisions. There’s that personal decision, do you really want to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week. Some people can do it at a high level, other people, I mean what’s the point of running your business if you’re not gonna have time to spend with your family and friends. You only live once. So if you find yourself working more than you’re capable of and your business can afford it and you really want to cut down on those extra small tasks that just keep you away from your family, that’s a good time to start.
On the business side, you should evaluate what you are doing that isn’t directly related to sales and marketing because as a business owner, you want to be spending 90% plus of your time on sales and marketing because sales and revenue cures all, and is the best way to expand your business and especially when you’re starting up. No one can handle sales as well as you can.
So maybe you find yourself doing these repetitive tasks or day to day operations when you should be focused on sales, that’s really when you want to, and advised my clients to do this. Create a list of all the things that you do on a day to day and week to week basis. Order them from hardest to easiest and start chipping away at the easiest ones and outsourcing those, or hiring remote workers for those.
And FreeeUp is an outsourcing platform. We’re a remote hiring marketplace and its really personal preference whether you want to pay more for US or go international, but you can really start chipping away at those lower task. Take them off your plate. And what a lot of my clients find is once they’ve taken the bottom 10%, 15% off their plate, all of a sudden it opens up a whole new world where they can start brainstorming ideas to expand their business, or focus on sales and get that next client that helps them, even afford more workers to take more off their plate and it’s really a roller coaster that just takes off once you start outsourcing your first task.
Kevin: So Nathan obviously with building this army you very rapidly, were hiring lots of people and I’m sure with that came some really good hires and some really bad hires. Is there one that sticks out and you just one of those categories.
Good and Bad Hires
Nathan: Sure so we can start off with good hires. I was in my- I forgot what class it was, and it had to be a very boring class because I was on my Facebook. And I got a message from this guy Connor Gilivan who was like, hey I’m looking for a job and I heard you have a business – I don’t really know what you do, but are you looking for extra help? And it happened that I was looking for extra help and I responded to their message and the next word after I scheduled him to start work, he was like, “hey I don’t have a car can you pick me up?” I said, “oh my God.”
Alright so I had to drive to my house, I picked him up and ended up working with him, ended up being the best hire ever. He became a business partner. He still works with me in my Amazon store. He works part time with me for FreeeUp. You can check him out at Connorgilivan.com. He’s the best writer I’ve ever met. He does a lot of philosophy and startups. And in addition to that he also owns another company, Ecommetize.
He’s just this entrepreneur now, that I still remember the guy that message me looking for a job in my class. So that was the best hire. And we complement each other very well too. He’s a more of a long term thinker where I’m much more short term in getting stuff done.
And in terms of worst hire, I hired these two sisters. Never hire family together it was my lesson in the biz. But two sisters I hired them for customer service and we realized a few months in that it was really just one of them working at a time, logging hours twice and going back and forth answering e-mails. So that was a really bad hiring decision. We had a lot of customer care bad hires early on.
Kevin: Really, really funny stuff especially about the worker that you had to pick-up the first day. I think that the thing that sticks out to me with that, Nathan, is sometimes first impressions can be wrong, right? I mean my thought would have been in that situation. Hell no, if I’m gonna go pick you up then clearly you’re not ready for a job but, I guess in this case it’s good that you stuck that out.
Nathan: Yeah, I mean people – Yeah it worked. You’ll never know what you’re gonna get. You could have this great interviews and the person ends up being lousy or vice-versa. You really just have to play the odds. And look at something as what’s the risk, what’s the reward. And I like to give people a chance if there is a possibility of a reward, and it’s kind of one of those hire slowly fire quickly type of thing.
And as long as you give someone a chance, you’ll never know when they’re going to really explode and be the best thing that happened in your business. And if they don’t work out you kind of realize it pretty quickly and cut your losses and move on to someone else.
Kevin: As you are starting to build this out, what are the processes you’re putting in place? What types of task are you having them do, and how do you identify and then convey those tasks? How do you get them fully on-boarded with other workers?
Nathan: Sure, so before you do anything in terms of tasks, you want to come up with an outline of your business. Who you are, what you do, how long you’ve been in business, how you make money, who your best customers/clients are, and what the actual day to day operations are. And then also focus on yourself. What are your pet peeves, how do you like to communicate. Because all that stuff is important and you have to remember that these people are mostly freelancers if you’re hiring remotely and they have lots of different clients who run lots of different businesses who all communicate in lots of different ways.
So the best way to figure out, for them to figure out what you want and how they can be a good worker for you, because that’s everyone’s goal is to become that good worker that sticks around. And you really just have to tell them point blank what you want. And the clients that know what they want and that can communicate what they want end up having the most success hiring.
So before someone even becomes a worker, or gets into FreeeUp. And I have 15 assistants that work for me now, because I have endless stuff to do every day. They get handed 15 pages of guidelines. This is my business. This is how it works. This is what we expect from you. This is all of that. It’s how we communicate and we expect you to sign it and we expect you to take a test on it. And so if you can’t handle that it kind of vets them out right away.
And that’s obviously extreme because I’m dealing with FreeeUp, which has over a hundred and fifty freelancers and I need to make sure they’re perfect before I give them to my client. But you should still be able to do the same thing on a startup level. Where you lay out your companies, they know who to go to for certain things so they’re not bothering you for every little thing. Where they know what times you work, when you want to be talked to, who to go to for questions. All that stuff. Just laying it out just sets a foundation. And then once a foundation is set, the possibilities are endless. It’s very much business-specific on what tasks that you can start outsourcing or giving to remote workers to really take off your plate.
Kevin: Let’s get into the process you that went through, Nathan, in hiring these initial workers and building this outsourced army. What are the things you’ve noticed? What are the patterns to develop that kind of lead you to think that there might be a better mousetrap out there?
Nathan: The better mousetrap – it all comes down to communication. That was the biggest thing. You could hire the worker with the most skill set – the best skill set in the world. They can be this amazing developer that learns all these languages. But if you can’t communicate with them, nothing is gonna get done. And it’s going to be frustrating on both sides and it’s just not going to lead well. So that’s why the biggest thing in FreeeUp is communication.
And that was the same thing if I had people that where in my office. If you’re going to be late, it’s not the end of the world, but I shouldn’t be like, “hey, where’s Joey” or “where’s Fred”. Like, you guys you should tell me. You should always give me a heads-up. And as long as you have that environment where you give them the flexibility of a freelancer, give them that room to grow but then trust communication and make that a no brainer, no questions asked. If you don’t communicate we’re going to have issues. That’s the biggest key.
Kevin: Really cool. So, let’s talk about onboarding. Onboarding virtual assistants or remote workers can be challenging to say the least, especially if there’s any type of a language barrier. There’s often a huge time difference as you mentioned, with people working on different areas and different countries. So what kind – what are the best strategies and the best ways to onboard these people?
Nathan: Well, first of all, I only hire people that are willing to work when you are willing to work. That’s the biggest key upfront. But when you’re onboarding people, it’s very important that you have stuff that they can reference back to, because if you just think of – let’s say I took myself. If I were starting my first day, even if it was at McDonalds or a huge corporation, and I’m trying to be the best worker or the best contractor that I can possibly be, I’m going to forget something along the way. I’m gonna be taking notes. I’m going to be listening to all this different people talk. It’s all new to me, I have never done it before. If I don’t have something to reference back from, I’m going to fail at some point.
So the clients that have the least success are the ones that do these one on one set up. And there’s two downsides: one, the workers – nothing to look back on if they forget, and they’re kind of just going from memory and it’s almost like the game “Telephone” in a slightly different way. But the other thing is if that worker decides to quit for whatever reason or leaves or you fire them you’re right back doing this one-on-one set up. It just takes up a lot of your time.
So I always recommend, its more personal preference, but either some kind of video that they can watch and reference back to, or some having a onboarding doc that they can read and reference back to. And that should always start off onboarding and then you kind of finish that of with whatever kind of testing, whatever one-on-one stuff you have but if you can give someone a doc and be like, “read this”. It almost gives you the opportunity to test them. If they come back to you and they don’t know anything you know that gives us a red flag right there. But if they come back to you and that one-on-one set up is good and you can use that to fine tune their skills rather than start from the beginning, that’s how successful onboarding happens.
Kevin: I think that’s some great advice. Empire builders listen, to what Nathan just shared with us and that’s a tweak that we need to make more within my organization, is taking more time and being more diligent about the way that we set up people and relying less and less on that one-on-one type of set up. Nathan, let’s talk about managing people and tracking time and things of that nature. What are some best practices in that area?
Culture is Everything
Nathan: Sure, managing people, and I’ll credit Connor for this because I was not a believer in this until I was. Culture is everything. You really have to build an amazing culture. First of all you figure out what your culture is and then stick to it. And then hire people that will fit very well in that culture. And that really cures like 90% plus of your problems.
We have a culture that encourages brainstorming ideas, feedback, collaboration building, and growth but at the same time has a lot of personal accountability. When it comes to communication and taking responsibility, if you messed up or reporting to us like if you have a death in the family or, god forbid, something tragic happens, you’re expected to let us know before you do anything else and that is ingrained in the minds of the workers on FreeeUp. And it’s okay, we understand that stuff happens, but you have to communicate.
We also expect you to treat our clients with a very high level of customer care. There’s always going to be those frustrating moments between any two people. It just happens from time to time but we expect you to be the bigger person and expect you to handle it like a pro. So there’s just this whole culture that we built and we ingrained it all the way to from day one, to our guidelines, to when the new freelancers meet the internal assistants, to when they talk to me, or they talk to Connor or our developers or anyone else we’ve hired.
It’s all that same family culture that has freedom that comes with high expectation and that’s not necessarily the right culture for every business. But whatever your culture is, make sure you actually know what it is and very defined. And make sure you hire people that really fit in that culture and that can display that culture to the next people that come in the door because if your internal assistants are not on the same page that’s when people start people start talking behind your back or they’re not on the same page or leads to bad client experiences or nothing gets done.
Kevin: Another piece of really good advice there Nathan on culture. Let’ talk a little bit about the types of task that people can outsource and get off their plate. I know when I was just starting the process of looking for our first worker, I didn’t really know what I needed. I knew I needed help because I was overwhelmed and I felt kind a like the guy that you described minus the frat parties and the girlfriend a few minutes ago, but I didn’t know exactly what I’ll use. So specifically to our audience who are mostly Amazon sellers some of them are also on additional channels. What are the types of common things that they can outsource?
What You Can Outsource
Nathan: Sure, we offer – the answer is everything, but we offer workers from $5 to $10 an hour that really cover everything from the data entry, to the listing, to the keywords, the SEO, customer care, voice, non-voice, depending on your business. I know Amazon’s a lot of non-voice. Anything on the higher level that would have to do with advertising or research or marketing or running different ads whether it’s google ads, Amazon, PPC, all that stuff. Any types of graphic design work, so you don’t have to do it yourself.
I’m sure I’m missing a lot of stuff we do. It’s a very common question I get asked. It’s like, what do most of your clients do and the answer is that there isn’t that what do most of my clients do. We have over 200 approaching 300 clients that all run different businesses on different market places with different software and lot of it is very software-specific or business-specific. So you really have to evaluate where the most time is being spent in your own business and where you can put someone in that will free up either you or one of the other workers or higher level people.
Kevin: And I love the name FreeeUp with three E’s. Nathan, and empire builders will tell you a little bit more on how to check out FreeeUp, and a very special offer in just a few minutes. But Nathan, talk to us a little bit about, specifically what you started to see in your own business as you began bringing on workers that could help with some of these tasks. What types of professional and personal benefits did you experience?
Nathan: Sure, so there are really two things that kind of suck when you get to business. Hiring people just takes a lot of time unless you want to rush it with which isn’t a good decision own its own. And turnover is crazy expensive. Nothing sets back business more than turnover. You could have this awesome worker who quits and it could set your business back six months.
So a lot of people have that bad experience and the fall into that trap of “hey hiring takes too long and I don’t have the time” or “I’ve made bad hiring decisions before and it costs me so I am just going to do everything myself and that’s the best way to protect my business”, but if you just think about it, there’s a very few large successful businesses that are one-man machine, if any.
So have to get away from that mentality. If you had bad hiring experiences before or you don’t have the time, there are solutions and that’s kind of what I’ve – I made FreeeUp what I wish I had back when I was hiring for the first time and making hiring decisions or when someone decided to put in their 2 week notice in the back of my mind “oh my God this is going to set me back months”. That’s really what I built Freeeup to be.
Kevin: Nice, so walk us to the process. If I’m an entrepreneur, I want help hiring someone, what do I do? What’s the process look like?
The Outsourcing Process
Nathan: Sure. So you can go to all these different market places, Upwork, Freelancers.com, Monster.com. You post a task, you get a hundred applicants. You interview them one by one. And at the end of the day you either you make a good hire or bad hire. Bad hire could hurt you. Good hire, you’re dependent on them and if they walk out the door we already discussed turnover.
So FreeeUp’s a little different. Once you become a client, and becoming a client is free and easy. It’s 3 steps, got a questionnaire, so we have your information and e-signature saying you won’t try to steal the workers. And you actually pay for the work and the credit card on file. There’s no upfront fee, no monthly fee. We just bill you once a week for any work done a week before.
So you’re a client of ours, it’s free anytime you want a worker you request it. There’s a worker request form. It takes 30 seconds to fill out. Gets me the information I need to get you exactly what you are looking for from our network. We are not a recruitment company. It’s not like you tell us what you need and we go find it. We already have these people on the marketplace ready to go.
So, our clients love it because whenever they want a worker as their business grows, positions open up whatever it is. They submit a worker request, we introduce them to a worker that fits their description exactly within an hour, sometimes, you know, within minutes depending on the time of the day. Once they’re hired you can use our amazing software to track them, and bill them and all that. It’s very easy to use and on the back end which is cool about us which you don’t get on the other market places, we’re very hands on to make sure you have a good experience with the workers you hire through the markletplace.
I had mentioned the communication guidelines that we make workers get tested on upfront. We expect that they follow these guidelines and it handles most issues that people have with workers. But if there’s any miscommunication, which doesn’t happen a lot, me or one of the assistants, I also mentioned there are 15 assistants and growing, are there to help you. We’re there to get involved, figure out what’s going on. Give you advice or consulting on hiring if that’s what it takes or if it a worker’s fault get to the bottom of it, and keep you guys moving forward and keep your business running smoothly.
And on the very back end we are also insurance for turnover, because turnovers the biggest thing that kills business. All the workers rarely quit, again, because it’s hard to get in our network. We get hundreds of applicants every week and we take less than 1%. But people do quit. It’s real life, there’s nothing I can do to make that percentage zero. But if the workers on FreeeUp quit for any reason, we cover all re-onboarding costs. We get you a new worker right away and we make sure that you never take a step backwards for HR reasons. So we save you a lot of time on the front end hiring workers and we protect you on the back end.
Kevin: One of the things I really love is what you said earlier, Nathan. This is a service which is built from out of a need that you personally experienced and I think those are the best type of solutions. It really sounds like a dream for an entrepreneur and I know our very own producer Paul, has had some experience with FreeeUp and has just raved about it and told me, “gosh, we’ve got to get Nathan on the show.” So I know a lot of people want to find out more information about FreeeUp. Well, what would you say, or the top – as an entrepreneur that’s considering using the service like this, what are the top 2 or 3 kind of do’s and don’ts to make sure that you’re successful.
Nathan: Sure, make sure you know what you want going in. If you don’t know what you want I can almost promise you that the workers you hire won’t know what you want. Make sure that you’re open to new ideas and kind of changing your business philosophy cause I’ve had a lot of people that are like “oh, I can’t hire international people,” or “I’ve hired for this before and it’s been bad,” and my response to that is, “listen, I can’t really comment on the past experiences you had. I can walk you through my process and all the things we put in place prevent it from happening again”.
And I kind of ask for them to go on with an open mind and a lot of them are the people that end up leaving you really good feedback later. And the third thing is really focus your energy on sales and think about, honestly, if you’re spending most of your time expanding your business or on sales and marketing. And if you’re not, then you really need to consider hiring or putting people in place to free up your time or systems in place to free up your time to be able to do that.
Kevin: Interesting, so let’s talk about on-going task versus on-time task, Nathan. What are the differences and does your service cover both?
Nathan: Covers both, we have no minimums. Workers on the platform are first come first serve, which we’ll touch on in a moment. But we have some clients who hire 5 workers 40 hours a week on going. There are some people who hire a worker for an hour a month or a one- time task, one and done. The only thing out of fairness to the workers is we don’t hold workers for you so we are very much a fast paced hiring service. If you request a worker and you’re not going to start for 2 weeks by the time you get back to us we probably given that worker to someone else.
So it is very much request a worker when you’re ready to hire, if you have a worker and you’re using them and then you stop using them for a month, we have to give them other clients. And when you come back I mean we always try to give you the same worker. And we’ll never switch workers on you unless you stop the work. But within reason we have to give them other clients. So yes we do long term and short term. Just to know that, it is first come first serve.
Kevin: Yeah absolutely. So I got some questions on Facebook, Nathan. We posted this morning that you and I would be talking and one question that came in is, in this what we kind of talk about a minute ago but I want to go back to and stay a little bit deeper. The key positions to consider outsourcing in an Amazon business in order to start scaling, I know because you have a lot of experience on Amazon. The things that come to my mind for me are customer service, but also as you mentioned, listing optimization. So pretty much anything you can think that involves an Amazon business, right?
Outsourcing to Scale Your Business
Nathan: Yeah the biggest thing that’s becoming most popular is ads. PPC campaigns, I have a lot of great experts who have been doing it for years. You can waste a lot of money doing it yourself if you’re don’t know what you are doing. It’s very similar to Google ads, we have experts for that too, although Amazon and Google are different. But yeah I mean, ads have become very popular. I mean if you’re going to invest money in something wouldn’t you want an expert to do the investing essentially.
But yeah, anything – listing, SEO, keywords, any kind of data entry task that are just more on the business operations on the Amazon side, customer care for non-FBA . We do a lot of product research and product sourcing although there’s no “Nathan’s way” to source product or Freeeup’s way to source products. I have people with outsourcing experience and will provide them to you but you have to teach them how you want it done. Those are popular for Amazon.
Kevin: Really, really cool stuff. So final question is do you have a particular timeline or a kind of a process you like to see people follow. I mean to most people hire for customer service first, or is it for some type of other task?
Nathan: All data entry stuff first. Any data entry stuff get that off your plate. If you have customer service that would be next. Anything – the next stuff will be listing and then finally PPC campaign – once your listings are optimized, you’re in a good position
Kevin: So great road map there for those of you that haven’t yet started outsourcing, getting things off of your plate to follow. Nathan, I want to get into our empire builders round. We’ll tell people how they can find out more about FreeeUp.
Kevin: Today’s empire builder round is brought to you by our friends at Splitly. Splitly is the split testing tool that allows you to find out the best way to list you products on Amazon. Not sure whether your main image is hurting or helping your sales? How about your title or your bullet points? Splitly takes all of the guess work out and let you put your best foot forward on you product page. For a special offer not available to anyone outside of the PLP audience to Privatelabelpodcast.com/Splitly.
First question, is there a book that you’ve read, Nathan that has positive impact on either your business, your personal life, or both.
Nathan: Yeah, I always refer, I usually say the Amazon book, but “Delivering Happiness”, that Zappo’s book is very interesting. It kind of shows how someone wanted to compete with Amazon, and the kind of that process, and that – it kind of shows people the ups and downs of going from having a very successful company to going in debt and then all of a sudden booming again, which is a lot of experiences and lot of entrepreneurs have. And there are ups and downs with any business even my Amazon store hasn’t been all ups and FreeeUp I’m sure won’t be either. So it just kind of put things in perspective that you can expect those bumps along the way.
Kevin: Great, great book, I’ve read it several years ago Delivering Happiness. All about Zappo’s and their customer, culture and experience a great recommended read. Empire builders if you’d like to check out Delivering Happiness, Nathan’s recommended read or any other book for that matter just go to Privatelabelpodcast.com/book. Our friends over at Audible will give you a free audio book download. Nathan, next question, other than FreeeUp is there another tool that you’re using or your clients use that you can recommend to our audience?
Nathan: Yeah, I used this tool, Yet Another Mail Merge, and I say this a lot but I feel like no one else uses it as much as I do. But I used it for contacting. I have hired 150 workers and sometimes I have to get stuff out to. I used it for cold e-mailing, which I’m still a fan of even though people say that you shouldn’t. I like to follow up with people, contact clients. It’s just a very quick easy tool to use. Obviously I don’t use it for spamming. But yeah Yet Another Mail Merge, check it out. It’s free.
Kevin: Yet Another Mail Merge, very cool. Haven’t heard of that have to check that out. Empire builders, if you’d like to check that out or anything else we talked about in today’s show you can find links and in the “Show Notes” section in the “Episodes” tab over at privatelabelpodcast.com. Nathan, final question: if the audience takes just one thing away from our discussion here today what would you hope that would be?
Nathan: Focus on sales. I think I’ve said that throughout the entire podcast, but sales really does cure all. Any problem that you are having in your business can be cured by having more sales. So just really think about that and have that honest approach and you kinda find people that- let’s say they’re a baker and they’re working in a bakery, they really want to focus on baking when really, when you’re the business owner you got to focus on the sales side and let the other people do the day to day processes. So it’s really the only way to become successful and grow your business. You can’t be focusing on anything else.
Kevin: Sales solves all, in one piece of advice that my old boss, my first boss ever used to say great advice then, great advice now from our special guest today, Nathan Hirsch. Nathan, it’s been a real pleasure. I know a lot of our audience wants to find out more about FreeeUp with three Es’ not two.
And empire builders, Nathan has been very generous and wants to offer you a special opportunity. Try Freeeup and get some additional bonuses not available to the public. So take advantage of that just go to privatelabelpodcast.com/FreeeUp will link to that from there. Nathan thank you for your generosity in that offer but also in just your time sharing with us today.
Alright, what did you think of my conversation with Nathan? How does outsourcing without the traditional pains and challenges sound to you? Sounds amazing to me I’m definitely going to have to try out Nathan’s service FreeeUp. But I hope you took some nuggets away from our conversation even if you don’t try FreeeUp, and that is, that it’s never too early or too late to start outsourcing. There’s things that clog up our desks and our workflow, in our inbox and sap the creative energy that all of us have as entrepreneurs.
I hope that you’ll take some action and start outsourcing more. Start asking questions about what it is that you can clear off of your plate. Again, to take advantage of Nathan’s very generous offer you can find that at privatelabelpodcast.com/FreeeUp, F-R-E-E-E-U-P, and a reminder to go register for our free webinar coming up on Wednesday, October 12 on sky rocketing you Private Label sales in the 4th quarter. You can find the link to that at the very top of privatelabelpodcast.com.
Click here to listen to the full podcast about outsourcing like a boss with Nathan Hirsch on privatelabelmovement.com and feel Nathan’s passion as he talks about:
- Who is Nathan Hirsch? (4:11 mark)
- Nathan on getting started (8:39 mark)
- When should you consider outsourcing? (14:10 mark)
- How to define tasks for workers? (21:32 mark)
- Outsourcing process? (32:02 mark)
- Nathan’s Takeaway? (42:07 mark)