Welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by http://gtex.org.uk/,
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Today I have the pleasure to Interview Nathan Hirsch
Nathan Hirsch is a 30 year old 10 year 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 virtual assistants, freelancers and agencies 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.
In this episode, we talk about:
- Mistakes to avoid when hiring remote
- How to make a good hiring process
- How to handle issues that come up when outsourcing
Connect with Nathan Hirsch
www.facebook.com/nathan.hirsch – personal facebook
www.facebook.com/FreeeUpNathanHirsch – Nathan Hirsch page
https://www.facebook.com/freeeupmarketplace – Facebook company page
https://twitter.com/realnatehirsch – personal twitter
https://twitter.com/freeeup – company page
https://www.facebook.com/groups/outsourcingmasters/ – outsourcing masters
https://www.instagram.com/realnatehirsch/ – personal
https://www.instagram.com/freeeup_/ – freeeup
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– Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Biz Show. I’m here with my good friend Nathan Hirsch. How you doing, Nathan?
– Hey, I’m doing great. How are you?
– I am incredibly well. It’s great that we connect here. We met first in the island of Baby Bathwater and having some crazy parties and learning some great business stuff and now we are here. So today we are talking about growing your business with remote working. It’s a topic that I’m really passionate about, that I’m really fascinated about, and is one of the things that we can do to grow and scale our business without having permanent stuff, so this is very, very hot relevant topic right now. So before we get started, tell us a bit more about you and what got you here to this point.
– Yeah! So, growing up, my parents were both teachers and I always had the mentality that I was gonna go to school and get a real job, work for 30 years, retire, and that was gonna be my life. My parents made me get a job at a very young age. I was 15, 16, whatever the minimum legal age was and I had some internships and I was working 40, 50 hours a week every summer, working at Firestone corporations at Errands which is kinda like a rent-a-center and I learned a tonne about sales, about managing people, about customer service, but I also learned that I hated working for other people. I was watching the clock every day, I couldn’t wait to get outta there, and so when I got to college, I kinda looked at it as a ticking clock. I had four years to create my own business or I was gonna go into the real world and never get out. So I started hustling when I got to college. I took that summer money, I started buying and selling people’s textbooks, and I was competing with my school bookstore who was, in my opinion, ripping people off, and all of a sudden, I had lines out the door, I created a little referral programme, people started talking about me across the school and I actually got a cease and desist letter from my college telling me to knock it off ’cause I was stealing too much of their business.
– No way!
– So like I said, my parents are both teachers, I didn’t wanna get kicked out of college, that wasn’t a real option, so I pivoted a little bit. I sold some books on Amazon. This was back in 2008. No one knew what Amazon was and I started experimenting with other products, with sporting equipment and outdoor supplies and computers, stuff I was familiar with, and I just failed over and over and over. It wasn’t until I branched out of my comfort zone and found the baby product industry that my Amazon business took off. So if you can imagine me as a 20-year-old single college guy selling millions of dollars of baby products on Amazon, that was me and it was a crazy time. Now, you’ve got all these gurus and courses… That Amazon was so I was really figuring it out for myself and I was making money for the first time. My parents said, “You should probably pay taxes.” So I met with an accountant and the first thing he asked me is when are you gonna hire your first person? And I kinda shrugged him 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. They’re not gonna–
– So you were doing everything on your own until that point? You were selling all these products.
– Yeah, I was visually.
– Were you going to uni or you didn’t go to uni, it was not for you at that point or were you going to uni at the same time?
– Same time. I was going to school and running this business at the same time.
– Jeez, man. Okay, keep going.
– So I’m a junior at this point, sophomore or junior in college. So I meet with an accountant, he tells me I should hire people, I tell him, “No way, it’s not for me.” and he just laughs in my face and he says, “You’re gonna figure this lesson out on your own.” Well, sure enough, my first busy season comes around, the fourth quarter when everyone gets busy buying products for the holidays and I just get destroyed. I’m working 20 hours a day, my social life plummets, my grades go down and I’m not sleeping, and I work my butt off for eight weeks to get through the holidays doing every little thing myself, answering every email, sending every order. I survived into January and I think to myself, I can never let that happen again. I need to start hiring people right now. So I post a job on Facebook and this guy in my business law class messages me. He says, “I don’t know what you do, I need a job.” I don’t even interview him. I just say, “You’re hired.”
– I need you so badly.
– I needed help! And he ends up being this unbelievable hire. He’s hard-working, he’s smart, he’s actually my business partner today with FreeeUp. We’ve been working together for eight, nine years now.
– No way!
– So I just hit jackpot right from the beginning. But there I am as this punk 20-year-old kid thinking, man, this hiring thing is easy. You post a job on Facebook, someone shows up, they do good work, they make you more money, and I just proceed to make bad hire after bad hire after bad hire, costing myself thousands of dollars, lots of time, lots of energy, and I quickly learned that hiring people in person when you’re 20, 21 is really tough so I moved to the remote hiring world, the Upworks, the Fiverrs, and I got pretty good at it. I hired some people that are still with me today but I just hated the process. I hated how long it took me to post a job, get 100 applicants, interview them one by one with very little protection on the back end and that’s when I had the idea to build my own platform FreeeUp. So that’s the short version of how I went from a broke college kid to starting Amazon to having the idea to building my own freelancer marketplace.
– This is awesome and insane at the same time. I can’t imagine you going to college and starting this business and fulfilling everything yourself. It brings me back to the moment where I was starting my business and I was working like full-time and running my business during days off and the evenings and it’s insane but I found that the people that have this kind of drive, that don’t bitch and moan about it, they are the people that actually make it because that’s what it takes from the very beginning to create something successful. So a lot of our listeners are a one-man band and then we have also the listeners that they are now at a team and they’re growing and scaling up. What I would love to know is in terms of your personal experience, before we go into a bit more technicalities, in your personal experience, you mentioned that the hiring process sucked and you made bad hire after bad hire after bad hire. In your experience, why were these hires bad or what was missing for them to be a good hire? So we can go back in that point.
– Yeah, so it started off that I just didn’t have a hiring process at all. I was 20, 21. I didn’t know that you had to build out systems and interview questions and what even to look for in a hire. I thought, hey, if someone needed work and I had work to do, then I would match ’em up and it would work out well. And obviously, over time, I realised that wasn’t the case and I had to actually sit down and create a process for it. Here’s where we’re gonna post jobs, here’s the questions that we’re gonna ask, here are the answers to those questions that we’re looking for, here’s how we set expectations before the hire, and here’s how we evaluate that quickly afterwards so that we don’t find out if they’re a bad hire in three months, we find out they’re a bad hire in the first week or two and save yourself time. But the biggest thing that happened was I started hiring people just for skill. Someone would have five years of experience and have a great track record, they’d know the programming language that I need, whatever it was, and then two months later, it would blow up in my face and I’d be wondering how is this person who’s so talented, who has such a high skillset, such a bad fit? And that’s when I realised it was because I was only vetting for skill. And skill is just one part of the equation. When it comes to skill, they can be a 10 out of 10, a three out of 10, a five out of 10, you don’t care as long as they’re honest about what they can and cannot do and they’re priced accordingly. But the other two factors are the attitude and the communication. I was hiring people with a bad attitude who weren’t passionate about what they were doing. They were just in it for the paycheck. They would take feedback personally. They get aggressive if things didn’t go their way. So attitude is a huge thing that we vet for before we get on the FreeeUP platform and that’s ’cause I realised how important it was back in the day. And the last thing is communication. If I hire someone and they have a great attitude and a great skillset but we can’t communicate on a day-to-day basis, it’s not gonna work out. The skill and the attitude don’t matter. So for communication, we wanted people who could respond within a business day, who could get on the same page with the scope, who could hit a due date that they set, who can inform us about emergencies and personal issues in a professional way. So for me, it’s about that combination of skill, attitude, and communication, and it’s very rare when you find someone who has all three and they still end up being a bad hire.
– Yeah, oh, absolutely. Last year, we went from four to 15 people. Actually, from four to 14 people last year and then we hired a 15th one this year. But it has been let’s say interesting, gruelling, and incredibly intense experience because it was the first time that we were hiring and so we had some good fit, we had some very bad fit, but we learned the process. I can vouch how important this is to have these three aspect, the communication and the skills and the personality in the fit because if the people are not, it becomes a pain in the ass to work with them as human beings. Doesn’t matter how great they are, they just can drive your business down and make the entire experience miserable. I have a curiosity now. You mentioned that your first business that they wanted to call for was selling baby products and then you started FreeeUp. There was something else in between or was that baby product to FreeeUp?
– It was baby product to FreeeUp. So to put it in perspective, our Amazon business, we got it to over $5 million a year. And back then, it was the Wild Wild West. There was very little competition, you could list anything on Amazon and they would sell. At the same time, I wasn’t selling my own products. It’s not like I had a my baby products or anything like that. It wasn’t really passionate about the products. When you’re growing an Amazon business and you’re not selling your own products, your own brand, you’re really not building a business. You’re just building an Amazon business and you’re very reliant on Amazon. Amazon can shut you down at any time. They can change their algorithm. So what happened was we were doing over $5 million a year, all of a sudden these competitors, these courses, these gurus start coming out. Our sales go to two to three million so we’re still making money but we’re not really growing anymore, we’re not building, we’re not selling products that we’re passionate about so it gets old really fast when you’re just in the business that’s going up a little bit one year, down a little the next year, you’re not really growing, you’re not building a brand, no one knows who you are, you’re just behind-the-scenes on Amazon. So when I started FreeeUp on the side and that quickly took off and blew my Amazon sales out of the water, it became a very easy decision to focus on that and we transferred that business one of our partners and Connor and I focused just on FreeeUp.
– That makes perfect sense. And then also, one more question there regarding some horror stories that you had because of bad hires, ’cause I can’t tell you there are some things that happen and I heard people, things that happened to me personally that they leave some very deep scars on you or in the business so do you have something in mind or an episode or a person that was a bad hire and that was a horror story?
– Yeah, so we wanted to build our own Amazon software. Again, this was years before a lot of it. FreeeUp partners with a lot of Amazon software companies. These didn’t exist back in the day. So we wanna build our own software to do inventory, to do replacing, and we spent a lot of time interviewing developers and we finally found one that we liked and we spent a lot of time creating a scope. We’re talking months, maybe 2 1/2, three months of going through everything exactly what we want, making sure that he knew the right coding language, have him doing some tests, some trials. He was remote, he was in England, and we thought we had this awesome fit. We were ready to go, we were about to start this main big project, and we walked into the office that day, we log onto Skype and we’re supposed to start at nine a.m. and he’s nowhere to be found. And hours go by, he’s not there. The next day, he’s not there. The day after that, he’s not there. Completely disappeared, never heard from them again, months of work just down the drain.
– Did you pay him at that point? So did you already paid him or?
– No, we hadn’t paid him yet. We probably paid him a little bit for the trials and stuff. It was less about the money, we’re not hiring–
– It’s the time, yeah, yeah, yeah.
– It totally wasn’t about money. It’s more about the time that you waste when you’re dealing with it. That was hours of not just my time, but my business partner’s time, but my team’s time, of all the people we went through interviewing, those are tonnes of hours that we could just never get back and we never found out what happened to him.
– Yeah. Yeah, I can resonate with that. The reason why I asked it because sometimes, you pay up front and then they disappear. So on top of the time expense, you have also the financial expense, and that’s why it’s so important to have a very strong hiring process and do the best you can. Of course, you can’t control people actions, whether they are the best people or the worst people, you cannot control their action but you can protect yourself. You can have systems and processes in place to protect yourself. So now, I want to know the reason, there are some people here that might thinking about doing their first hire, and they might not know if we’re getting someone full-time, if getting a freelancer, a contractor maybe from another countries, so can you just explain a bit more the difference of when is a good fit to hire a freelancer or when is actually a good fit to think about, now I need someone full-time in my business.
– Yeah. I like to divide it up into three different types of people you can hire: the followers, the doers, and the experts.
– All right, you’re fine.
– So the followers think five to 10 bucks an hour, non-US, maybe a virtual assistant in The Philippines, you can hire someone with years of experience especially if you get them on my platform ’cause we’re not a marketplace for newbies. But at the end of the day, they’re followers. If you hire someone for customer service and I hire someone for customer service, the way you do it is gonna be different than the way that I do it. Those people tend to be a little bit more longer-term, maybe they’re 20 hours a week, 40 hours a week, five hours a week, whatever it is, but they’re there to follow your systems, your processes, and to really get your hours in the day back so you can focus on sales expansion, marketing higher level tasks. Then you got the doers. These are more project-based. They can be a little bit more on call or one-time or here and there, and they’re to do specific tasks. They might be graphic designer, bookkeepers, writers. You’re not teaching a graphic designer how to be a graphic designer but they’re not consulting with you either. They do the same thing 10 hours a day. And then you’ve got the experts, the high-level freelancers, the consultancy agencies, they’re bringing their own strategy, their own expertise to the table. You’re hiring them to come in and do something that you’re not good at to actually execute and those can be more bigger projects, they can be smaller, and so what you need to figure out is are you looking for the follower, the doer, or the expert, and then also what is your budget? Before you even start hiring, I recommend looking at how much money you made last month and figuring out how aggressive do you wanna be. If you’re going to build that empire or you wanna reinvest in people, maybe you’re investing 40, 50, 60% of your profits back into hiring. If you’re more conservative, and I end up being usually around 30%, but you can be in that 10 to 30 range and you can always go up 5% or down 5% the next month and tweak it but figure out what that budget is and then figure out, hey, are you stuck inside the day-to-day operations? Do you have projects that you will need to take off your plate? Or are you taking on something that you need an expert with and then allocate that money accordingly and that should give you a good idea of whether you need people short-term or longterm.
– So you mentioned in terms of budgeting, there is sometimes a catch-22 where there are some people that might run a business, the business is not making enough money, but the reason why it’s not making enough money is also because they’re doing everything themselves. So it’s likely there the question of the chicken or the egg. Do you wait up until you have the right money and the right budget in your bank account to hire or do you gamble a bit and get the help and support? Where do you stand in the spectrum?
– Right, so you’re never gonna get it exactly right. You’re either gonna hire people too early or too late. Figuring out the exact day, the exact setting that you’re gonna hire people, that doesn’t exist when you’re an entrepreneur. So then it just becomes do you wanna lean more on the late side or more on the early side? I tend to lean more on the early side. Obviously, if you’re making no money and you’re in debt, and you’ve got tonnes of bills, and you can’t afford to hire someone, you can’t afford to hire someone. But within reason, if you’re going to have to hire this person anyway, it’s in your best interest to usually hire them a little earlier than when you need them, to when it’s too late, there’s a lot of opportunity cost that’s there if you do that, or loss if you do that.
– Yeah, absolutely. And also, you can as well, you can decide to maybe just start small. You talked about followers at the beginning and you can find some virtual assistants that can help you out, just taking some of the repetitive tasks that you’re doing that are not making you any money but they’re necessary for the business to run and that with a simple explanation, someone can do them. And I remember when I started my business, I didn’t have much money. I hired a virtual assistant which is still with us, Weng, after 4 1/2 years. Now, he’s full-time with us actually five years now. He’s full-time and he’s now operation manager but he started with 10 hours a week. We hired her from The Philippines, started from 10 hours a week, and that was the starting point and then we moved her to 20 hours a week and then to 40 hours a week and then becoming full-time for us. So you can start with a small budget. There is a thinking myth of I need to have all this amount of money or I need to hire someone who is super expensive, which is actually not true depending if you hire, again, a follower, a doer, or an expert, so very good distinction, I really like that. So you mentioned already what do you look for before you hire a person. Can you expand a bit more on that to make sure that we hire the right people because every company is different, every person’s needs are different, so identifying actually what kind of people do I need right now in my business can be very overwhelming and very confusing, so what are your recommendations on that?
– Yeah, so we mentioned, we talked about the skill, the attitude, and the communication. I like to surround myself with people that have the same core values, the same beliefs. I’m very customer-centric-focused, I believe in honouring my word. If I tell a partner or a client or if I tell you today that I’m showing up for this podcast, I’m showing up for this podcast. If people don’t have the same values, that’s a deal breaker right there. But if they have the same values, I want them to have completely different skillsets than me. One of the reasons, Connor, my business partner and I work so well together is we have the same values, we want the same things, we believe in doing business the same way but we couldn’t be differenter in terms of skillset. He’s a better writer, he’s a better developer, I’m much more of the sales and the face and the systems and the processes and when I hire someone to do bookkeeping, I want them to have the same values but be a way better bookkeeper than I am. So that’s one of the things I look for. I also like to surround myself with people that can work in my pace because if you’re an entrepreneur, you have a certain ways that you like to communicate in. You like to get things done. You can tell I talk fast, I’m usually direct to the point, I like to work with people that can move in my speed, that don’t take things personally, that they don’t need to be warm and fuzzy, although I build great relationships and culture. At some point, it’s about getting stuff done so if you surround me with people that move slow and that are warm and fuzzy, they might not be the right person for me even though they check all the other boxes, so part of it is understanding yourself and the types of people that you wanna work with, knowing where your values and what your beliefs are, and then knowing what your weaknesses are. One of the best activities I do with Connor and I every quarter is we sit down and we say, hey, what are we doing that we’re just not good at? Because the average entrepreneur is only good at one to three things and we wear a lot of different hats. So you find yourself working on all these projects that you’re not really good at. And if you can afford it and you have room in that budget, you wanna hire specialists and experts to turn those weaknesses into strengths, so that’s really what I look for in hire.
– And in terms of your personal strength, what are the one to three thing that you are really, really good at?
– I’m good at problem-solving and systems. And off of that, the sales and customer service. To me, if you can problem solve, you have that mentality of serving people, you can do that customer service and that sales. In my case, it’s being more of the face. I’m not really hard selling people, I’m not like, hire this person right now! It’s more about becoming the face, going on podcast with you, sharing our message. telling people about FreeeUp, answering their questions, and I work in an imperfect industry, right? 99% of the time, the freelancers on our platform do an amazing job. They make me look good, they make FreeeUp look good, and there’s always gonna be that 1%. We haven’t come across it but it’s usually not some huge issue where someone stole something. It’s usually like, hey, you have a client, you have a freelancer and their personalities don’t work well and we need to jump in and create a solution that’s fair to both sides that treats both of them well and we can all move forward. So the ability to do that quickly and make people feel like they’re taken care of, I think is a good skillset of mine.
– That’s perfect! And in terms of your business, how do we identify if someone now is… Actually, no. If someone is starting out, I’m gonna ask the other question later, but if someone is starting out, who do you think their very first hire should be? Someone is starting out their business, it’s their very first hire, and from your experience, which one should it be?
– This is my least favourite question.
– ‘Cause it’s just impossible to answer. We work with people that are doing 100 million a year, people who’ve never sold anything before, in different industries, they all have different budgets, and even me if I got on the phone with someone for 30 minutes, for an hour and learn about their business, I still don’t know enough to make that information. What you have to figure out is are you someone that’s stuck in the day-to-day operations of your business, are you someone that has all these projects building up that you’re not good at, are you someone that’s taking on something like Facebook Ads or building a website and you just have no idea, and yes, you could spend the next six months becoming a Facebook ad expert and taking every course out there but that’s not a good use of your time and you can’t do that for every single part of your business so for me, you have to identify that first and if you’re someone stuck in the day-to-day operations of your business, you need to hire a VA, you need to hire an assistant, you need to get your hours back. If you’re someone where those projects are building up, you need to identify what projects have the fastest ROI and you need to hire specialists to do those projects first, and if you’re someone that’s taking on something that you’re not good at like in marketing or UI, UX, whatever it is, you need to figure out, hey, how important is this to my business? Can I afford to do it right? Because the last thing you wanna do is cut costs on the highest level people and if that’s the case, then you push it forward with those experts.
– Going to FreeeUp, I’m curious about to know how is FreeeUp different from other platform? You have Fiverr, you have Upwork, you have every single VA company, outsourcing company that is out there, how are you guys different?
– Yeah, so I really tried to take everything that I liked about the other platforms and change everything I didn’t like. So with us, we get thousands of applicants every week. These are virtual assistants, freelancers, agencies from all over the world. We vet them for skill, attitude, and communication, like I mentioned before. The top 1%, one out of every 100 get on our platform and as a client, you get fast access to them. It’s free to sign up, there’s no monthly fee, there’s no minimums. It’s in our best interest to get you people you actually like that help you grow your business. You put in a request, we fill it with one person by default, most people come to us ’cause they don’t wanna meet 20 people but if you say send me three, send me five, we’re happy to do it. You can meet with them, interview them, make sure you like them. If you like them, you can hire them, negotiate rate, agree to fixed price. The freelancers set their own rates so whatever you wanna do. If you don’t like them, you click pass and provide us feedback and we get you someone else based on that feedback, so it’s a very fast and efficient process upfront. On the backend, we have 24/7 support in case you have even the smallest issue. My calendar, my assistance calendar is right at the top of the website. We’re always there. And we have a no turnover guarantee where if freelancers quit for any reason, which rarely happens, but of course it’s real life, we cover all replacement costs and get you a new person right away. So that’s what we’re all about.
– I like it.
– Between adding the speed, the customer service, and the protection.
– I really like it. In particular because when you are hiring, in particular if you’re running remote, then you know that you are given all your details, all your data, some very sensitive information about your business to someone else and if they ran away with those information or even if they misuse them, or they lock you out from their accounts, then there are big problems for your business. I’ve seen businesses going down for that and that’s why the security is so important. I’m curious to know, do you have a smart algorithm to help the first process of matching the request with a candidate or is something that like a recruitment agency will do, would be more manual and saying, okay, I know this person, this would be the perfect fit, or is that a mixture of both? How does it work in the backend?
– Yeah, so let me address both of those things. The first thing on risk. There’s always gonna be a risk, right? There’s nothing that you or me or anyone else can do to make that risk zero. Being an entrepreneur is risky, hiring is risky, but hiring is the only way to scale. If you wanna scale your business, at some point, you have to hire. There’s very few $5-billion-a-year solo entrepreneurs out there. It really just doesn’t exist. So on our platform, it’s really tough to get in. Once the freelancers are in, they care a lot more about staying in and getting more clients for me and keeping you as a client than they do about stealing or jeopardising their own–
– ‘Cause it’s more selective.
– Exactly. Yes, there’s always a chance. And even if you hire your best friend to sit right next to you, there’s always a chance they do something stupid or jeopardise your business in some way. But we built 16,000 plus hours every week, knock on wood, we’ve never had anything happen. I’m sure if we build enough hours, eventually something will happen. That’s just real life. But the chances are a lot smaller than people think, and you can do everything to protect yourself, give people more and more information over time, use LastPass, change your passwords when you stop working with someone, you can even have people sign NDAs, although are you really gonna chase someone across The Philippines over a piece of paper? Probably not. But the number one way to really protect your business that so many people overlook is to build relationships with the people that you work with. If you build genuine relationships, and I’ve had people that I’ve fired, I’ve had people who have quit on me, but we had a relationship and they didn’t wanna hurt me, I didn’t wanna hurt them, and there’s no substitute for that. Every single protection, every single software protection, paper protection is no fee against that relationship. That’s the most important thing. In terms of the vetting, we’re not a recruitment company. We don’t have some crazy algorithm that matches the client-type personality to the freelancers. What I will say is it’s a three-step process. So first of all, we’ve got people before they even get on our platform, so we only let the best of the best on. Second, we set that expectation that you should only take on projects that you can do at a very high level and that you can commit to. If you drop clients in the middle of a project, if you take on projects you can’t do at a high level, we remove you from our platform very, very quickly. That expectation sub-regulates itself because it’s so tough to get in, once they’re in, we’re bringing clients to them, the last thing they wanna do is get kicked off our platform after all of that. So there’s a certain self-regulation in that but then there’s my team as well. So we’re there to make sure that a graphic designer isn’t taking a bookkeeping ticket and that people that get complaints don’t get more clients and that if someone puts in the request, hey, I need someone that can only work Eastern Time, that we make sure that the person we introduced can work Eastern Time. So it’s almost three different parts that go together to really increase the percentage of you making a good hire.
– That’s top, man. I like the process. I like how it works. What are the top skills that people come on FreeeUp to hire for? Because I think every platform as almost like the, if not a niche, but you will find that there are some people that will come to you more for. So what are the things that people ask you the most to get a help in their business in terms of hire?
– Yeah, we have over 100 skillsets in our platform, everything like lower level would be customer service, data entry, lead generation, with people that will hire an Amazon VA that’s a follower, social media VA. In the mid-level, you’ve got the writers, the bookkeepers, the graphic designers, and the web developers–
– Is there something in particular? I understand there is a lot but if you have to look at which ones are people hiring the most, is that they just hire or do you have something specific that people go for the most?
– Yeah, there’s not one thing. If you look at the requests we get every day, that they’re all over the place with no rhyme, no reason. We’re very careful to only add skillsets to our platform that we can vet at a high level and can offer those services to our clients. So intentionally, we don’t just wanna be a place for Amazon VAs. We have over 100 skillsets that are all high level that people can hire for.
– All right. That’s cool, man. So before we go to the Lifting The Veil part, I got one last question because you mentioned about building relationship. Our important is to build the relationship with the people in your team. Now, building a relationship is much easier if you have an office and you have people come in and work with you but in the remote working is way more difficult because there is, first of all, there might be time differences, there might be definitely the point of contact might be a Zoom call or a Skype call or a Slack channel or whatever, so how do you ensure that you can build solid relationship when you don’t meet people in person? Do you have a system or something that you recommend?
– Yeah, so back in the day, I actually opened up an office and I found that it was actually harder in person. It led to more drama, it led to a lot of other things that I didn’t really like. For me, it’s about the effort. And I can usually tell when clients are making an effort. If I have a VA and we’ve had clients where they’ll hire three different people and the three different people have never talked to each other but they all have the same complaints about that same client. And usually, you can tell that the client has really made no effort. Every once in a while, they’ll fire off an email, they’ll say, hey, get this done right now and they’ll talk down to them when they make a mistake. That’s not making an effort. The thing is to actually have meetings, to actually have conversations, actually understand what motivates the people that you’re working with. Everyone cares about different things. They might care about providing for their family and making money. They might care about the title that they’re given. Hopefully you find people that really believe in your business and they wanna see that succeed, or people that care about the project or the tasks. We have graphic designers who love graphic design, they love the creativity, and that’s really what motivates them so if you haven’t taken the time to actually meet and figure out what people care about, then you’re really gonna struggle to build those relationships. So for me, that’s step one and once you understand what motivates people and what people like, then you can tailor your future conversations to address that, make them feel appreciated, make them feel like they’re working towards that, and that’s gonna lead to a relationship over time.
– Yeah. And do you also recommend a frequency of a call? Do you mainly do communication by email? Do you recommend video calls or regular team trainings or regular update? How do you gel a team that maybe you have a lot of remote people? ‘Cause everyone, you have the interpersonal relationship between you the founder or the HR person in your business, whatever, with the team members, but also you have now the interrelationships between the team members that are equally as important so how do you facilitate that?
– Yeah. I like to personally meet with people more upfront and then lower as you go, as you build trust, as I get more involved in what they’re doing. I like to keep everything in writing, especially when I’m dealing with people internationally where videos might cut in and out or things might get lost in translation or just forgotten. I keep everything on Skype. I know you and I are on Skype right now, but I don’t even do video calls. I have group chats. So we have a Monday morning meeting, it’s all in the group chat. If someone misses a meeting, they can go and they can read all the messages. If someone forgets something three days later, they can go back. If people are reading it and they don’t understand it, they can ask questions and everything is clearly laid out in right now. For other things, I’ll send over voice messages, I’ll use Voxer and stuff like that if I’m really busy but the more that you can get in writing, the better. And for me, it’s about figuring out what are the two to three communication channels and what are you actually using them for? For email, I’m sending something that I don’t care. As long as you get it done within a few hours of you working, it’s not urgent. For Skype messages, it’s usually right away or we’re having a meeting right there on Skype. And for Viber or WhatsApp or phone calls, those are more for urgent. If our software goes down, I’m gonna send a Viber message to my developers but I’m not gonna bother them on the weekend sending them Viber messages and pull out their phone if it’s not important. So for me, it’s about establishing those communication channels and how each one is used.
– Top, man! Thank you for the insight here. Now, let’s move to the Lifting The Veil part which is the last part of the show where I ask my guest what tools, app, software, habit, something that they use that makes their life or business easier. So what’s that for you?
– For me, I love this app called Yet Another Mail Merge. I use it to email clients, email freelancers, to send email blasts. It’s pretty easy to use. I have no affiliation with them. It’s pretty affordable as well. But it also allows you to send customised emails out. I don’t use them for my email marketing, I use MailChimp for that, but I’ll use them for check-ins or for sending out some mass email. Let’s say our project board is overflowing with projects, we might send an email out to all thousands of freelancers saying hey, can everyone just check the board and see if you can take on any project, we’d really appreciate it. And allows us to do it quickly and customise each email with their name and stuff like that so I recommend checking that out if you haven’t already.
– Yet Another Mail Merge. I think I used it actually a few years ago and I absolutely loved it. So just out of curiosity, why don’t you use your CRM also with this type of communication and do you use this different system? Is there another benefit to this that a normal CRM system couldn’t do with an appropriate tag?
– Yeah. So I do use my system for standard updates. Someone will get an email when they hired someone or when we filled a ticket, stuff like that. This is more for quick blasts, quick follow-ups. I like to check in with clients over time You could probably use another CRM too. I’m sure that there is there but this is just a quick way to send emails to lots of different people and customise it without using the CRM.
– Yeah. What I found as well about using the system is that it will not go because it is basically used through Gmail. It’s less likely to go in the promotional folder or in the social media folder.
– And more likely to go into the normal, the primary folder of Gmail or the primary folder of other inbox systems because it’s directly sent from your Gmail account. So the chances that they are gonna see it is way higher. Now, the challenge on the other side is that make sure you don’t use it too for promotional messages like you did because then it means that your primary email account, now it gets flagged.
– 100%. I wouldn’t use it for cold outreach.
– Exactly. Please don’t, don’t, don’t, but it’s a great system. We’re gonna put the link in the show notes so you guys can get it out. All right, Nathan. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here. Tell us a bit more about how can people reach out to you, find you, work with you on FreeeUp. Tell us what you have for us.
– Yes, we have a Facebook group called Outsourcing Masters. We’d love to have you in there. We post a lot of great content to help people hire a remote better. If you go to FreeeUp.com, that’s FreeeUp with three Es, my calendar, my team’s calendars right at the top. We’d love to meet with you about how we can help your business. You can create a free FreeeUp account. Mention this podcast, get a $25 credit to try us out. That’s $25 you can use towards VAs, freelancers, agencies, whatever you need. And I look forward to helping you, and thanks so much for having me on.
– Oh, that’s brilliant. So guys, we’re gonna put the link in of the Facebook group and also the links of all social media and the website of FreeeUp here in the show notes so make sure right now you scroll down and connect to Nate and connect with FreeeUp because it is growing your business. Without staff, without people in your business, you will never be able to grow to the level that you want. We talked a lot about the journey from expert to authority and getting your team right is an important, crucial part of this journey so make sure you check out FreeeUp. Nathan, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much for being on Explode Your Expert Business Show.
– Thank you.
– All right, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening and thank you for watching if you’re watching. Make sure that you subscribe to the show if you haven’t subscribed yet. Click that juicy button. I know it’s calling you. Yes, subscribe right now. And then I’m looking forward to seeing you. ‘Til the next episode. And remember that together, we grow exponentially. Ciao!