Nathan had a problem, he needed to hire team members and saw the need for others too. So he created a company to help provide good remote team members for businesses and people that need help. Hear his best tips as it pertains to hiring a new person. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
Best Ever Tweet:
“Focus on whether or not they are the perfect fit for you” – Nathan Hirsch
Nathan Hirsch Real Estate Background:
- Co-founder and CEO of FreeeUp.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers in eCommerce, digital marketing, and much more
- Has sold over $30 million online
- Based in Orlando, FL
- Say hi to him at https://freeeup.com/
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
First off, I hope you’re having a best ever weekend. Because today is Saturday, we’ve got a special segment for you called Situation Saturday. Here’s the situation – you are needing to hire some remote team members to help you grow your real estate business. Well, you need to know how to hire the right ones.
With us today we’ve got Nathan Hirsch, who’s going to talk to us about how to do just that. How are you doing, Nathan?
Nathan Hirsch: I’m doing great, how are you?
Joe Fairless: I am doing great as well, and welcome to the show. A little bit about Nathan – he is the co-founder and CEO of FreeeUp.com, which is a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers in e-commerce, digital marketing and much more. He has sold over 30 million dollars online. Based in Orlando, Florida.
With that being said, Nathan, first, before we dig into how to hire the right remote team members, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you’re focused on?
Nathan Hirsch: I’m a long-time entrepreneur. I started a multi-million dollar Amazon business out of my college dorm room back in 2008. I was 20, and it was really tough to hire people; college kids are pretty unreliable, and I got thrown into the remote hiring world, the virtual assistants and freelancers, and UpWork, and Fiverr.
Growing my business using those methods was great, but it also took up just a lot of my time, to post a job and get 50 people apply, interview them one by one… And I always just wanted a faster way… So a few years ago I created my own marketplace, FreeeUp, where we get thousands of applicants every week, we vet them for skill, attitude, communication, make them available to clients quickly, with 24/7 support, and a no turnover guarantee… And it’s been a lot of fun.
We started in the e-commerce space, moved our way up there, got into the marketing space, and now we’re working with real estate agents, and software companies. It’s been kind of fun thinking outside of my norm, which is e-commerce and online businesses, to the average real estate agent who is just swamped with work, and they have so much to do, whether it’s website stuff, or lead generation, and the different creative ways that you can use virtual assistants and freelancers.
Joe Fairless: You mentioned you evaluate skill, attitude and communication… Is that your differentiating feature for the other companies that you referenced earlier?
Nathan Hirsch: Yeah, it’s really four things… It’s that pre-vetting; we let in one out of every 100 applicants. It’s the speed – people put in a request, we fill them within a business day. We have clients who get started within hours or minutes, so you don’t have to wait two weeks to find someone you like.
The customer service, I would put against anyone else. We’re really there to make sure you have a great experience all the time… And that no-turnover guarantee, which as an entrepreneur, there’s nothing more frustrating to find someone you like, only to have them walk out the door. And while people rarely quit on our platform, it’s real life, of course it could happen, and if it does, we cover the replacement cost and get you a new person right away.
Joe Fairless: In your bio it says you’ve sold over 30 million online… What’s the bulk of that come from?
Nathan Hirsch: Twenty million plus on Amazon, and it’s probably more like 35 to 40 million now. A little outdated, but on FreeeUp we did one million the first year, five million the second, and last year we did about nine million.
Joe Fairless: Wow. That’s incredible. What were you selling on Amazon?
Nathan Hirsch: I started off selling books. I was a college kid, I wanted to compete against my school bookstore. I actually got a cease and desist letter to knock it off from them, and that made me pivot a little bit. I started doing research into stuff I was familiar with – sporting equipment, computer games, DVDs, and I just failed… The only thing I could get to sell were these books.
It wasn’t until I branched out of my comfort zone and found the baby product industry that my business started to grow in and scale. If you can imagine me as a 20-year-old single college guy selling baby products on Amazon – that was me.
Joe Fairless: So you sold the bulk of the 20 million dollars in sales from baby products?
Nathan Hirsch: Yeah, the bulk was baby products, the rest was home goods and toys.
Joe Fairless: Huh. And why don’t you do that anymore? It seems like it’s got a lot of revenue.
Nathan Hirsch: Yes, we got the Amazon business to the point where it was three million, five million… That’s about where we topped off. And we got in at a great time, before all the courses and the gurus. Now everyone is selling on Amazon.
As we got bigger, we started off doubling every year, and then once all the competition came out there, we were still there, we were still making money and it was still a good business, but we weren’t growing at all. We were just kind of staying stagnant.
I wasn’t passionate about selling baby products then, I’m still not passionate about selling baby products now… And with Amazon, you’re always relying on them; you’re not building a brand, you’re not communicating really with anyone outside of your manufacturers and your team.
When I started FreeeUp and it started to take off, it was a lot more fun. I get to go on podcasts with you, and speak at conferences, and help business owners all around the world… FreeeUp has been scaling, and I get to grow my brand, and I made the decision January of last year to focus all my attention on FreeeUp.
Joe Fairless: When you created FreeeUp, did you initially identify the differentiating features that you now have as how you’re gonna position yourself, or has that evolved?
Nathan Hirsch: The pre-vetting and the speed was always there, and I’ve always been very customer service-focused. I forget exactly when we added the no-turnover guarantee; it wasn’t very long, but… The original concept was much more towards an Amazon seller. I was a big Amazon seller, I knew the community well, I had a Rolodex of Amazon freelancers that I knew were dependable, and the concept was “Hey, if you’re a seller, you can go post a job, or you can just come to me and I’ll introduce you to someone who can get the work done today.” That’s kind of how it started, and people started talking about us, and telling all their other business owner friends, whether they were real estate agents or they were in different e-commerce, they owned a Shopify store… We really expanded from there.
Joe Fairless: When an entrepreneur is hiring a freelancer and they’re doing the 15-20 minute interview, what should they ask?
Nathan Hirsch: We do a lot of the vetting for skill, attitude and communication, so a lot of times that’s where I would encourage people to interview if they weren’t using FreeeUp; not just focusing on the skill and the resume, but also the person’s attitude and the communication. What I like to tell clients is focus on what it’s like to work for you, whether they’re the perfect fit for you. I know myself very well; I know I talk fast, I know I’m direct, I know I’m not the most warm and fuzzy person out there, so I really like to focus in on “Is this person the right fit for me and my business?” Because a lot of freelancers work for tons of different clients, and what’s good for one client is bad for another; what one client likes is another client’s pet peeve. So really making sure that they’re the right fit for you and your business – that’s where you should focus the interview.
Joe Fairless: How do you evaluate attitude?
Nathan Hirsch: We do one-on-one interviews and we look for people who are passionate about what they do; they’re not just in it for the paycheck. We want people if they’re a graphic designer, they love graphic design. Me personally, I hate bookkeeping; I like being an entrepreneur. So if I hire a bookkeeper, they need to love bookkeeping as much as I love being an entrepreneur.
The other side of it is we want people who – yes, they’re nice, but they also don’t get aggressive the second something doesn’t go their way. We’ll edge people on a little bit, because not every client out there is rainbows and butterflies. If they get on our platform and some client says something or comes across the wrong way, we can’t have freelancers that will just blow up on them. We want people who keep it professional and don’t take things personally and don’t get aggressive. That’s a lot of what we look for.
Joe Fairless: When the entrepreneur is looking to scale — let’s pretend that FreeeUp is not around… It is, and it will be, but let’s just pretend it’s not; what are some things that the entrepreneur should know prior to even doing a search for the person they’re hiring?
Nathan Hirsch: What I recommend doing – step one and two of my hiring process is figure out what you wanna hire for and what that perfect person looks like. What you wanna hire for – create two lists. The first list is everything you do on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis. Get away from your computer, get away from your phone and just brainstorm it, and write everything out. Put it in order from easiest to hardest, and start chipping away at that list from the top.
On the flipside, one of the activities that my business partner and I do whenever we meet up is we go through our businesses; we’ll be honest with each other, “Hey, Nate, you’re not good at this. Hey, Connor, you’re not good at this.” We’ll write that down, and it’s great if we complement each other very well, but at the same time we always end up with a list of things that we’re doing all the time that we’re really not good at. The best entrepreneurs – they learn how to turn those weaknesses into strengths. So that’s really step one – everything that you do that you have processes for, and everything that you’re bad at.
Step two is what are you really looking for. Are you looking for a full-time employee in your office? Is it a virtual assistant in the Philippines? Is it a freelancer for a project? Whatever it is – what’s your price point? What’s it like to work at your business? What kind of culture do you wanna hire for? What skills do they have to have? Really defining what that perfect person looks like, because if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s very hard to find it.
Joe Fairless: What’s a challenge you’ve had growing FreeeUp?
Nathan Hirsch: For me it’s the software. It’s funny, I was in New York yesterday and I was talking to this guy who owns a huge company. They have 60 full-time employees. He was originally a coder, and I thought to myself, “Man, if I could code, FreeeUp would be even bigger than it is now”, because that’s one of the things that can hold you back in this day and age. Working with developers is tough. I have a million ideas of how I wanna improve our software, and you can only do so much with the dev team that you have. You’re prioritizing projects; some of them take three months, some of them take a month, some of them take a year, and you’re constantly getting feedback from clients, from freelancers, and you wanna implement everything, and… If only I could code, if only I could go in there and do it myself… But it becomes a lot more of trying to communicate the business needs with the developer, who thinks in a much different way.
Joe Fairless: How do you attract the freelancers to your platform, compared to other platforms?
Nathan Hirsch: Great question. This is one of the things that we focused on at the beginning, because we’re well aware that there’s no shortage of virtual assistant agencies out there, and marketplaces, and places where people offer their service… And we wanted to create a culture where people wanted to be here, and the first part is that speed. Just like clients don’t wanna go through 50 people and take two weeks when they need a project today, freelancers don’t wanna compete against 50 people on every project, and spend all their time looking for jobs; they wanna be doing the projects. So really eliminating that upfront time and making it a fast-paced marketplace was the starting point.
On the back-end, that same 24/7 support that we have on the client side, we want on the freelancer side too, where if they have a question, if they want help with the software, if they want tips or advice on how to land a client or how to grow their freelance business, or how to turn into an agency – we have those resources there, and my team is very well trained to handle that. That’s really what we’ve been able to do – create a marketplace where yes, there’s scarcity, because it’s hard to get in, but once you’re in, you get access to clients quickly, with great support to really help you scale and grow.
Joe Fairless: Anything as it relates to hiring the right remote team members that we haven’t talked about, that you think we should touch on?
Nathan Hirsch: Yeah. Especially in a business that’s always changing – and I’ll put that in the perspective of real estate – that trial and error is so important. A good example of that – I was not a big social guy back then; now I guess I am – is I would experiment. I would say “Hey, let’s hire someone to run my Twitter for a few months. Let’s hire someone to run my Instagram.” You play around with it, and some of it works, and some of it doesn’t work; and what’s the worst-case scenario? In three months it doesn’t work, I’ve lost $1,000; I’m not gonna go homeless. What’s the best-case scenario? I have a new source of leads, a new way to generate business… And I feel like in a space where – yes, real estate is changing, but there’s just so much competition, trying new things and experimenting with hires is a must. You never know what’s gonna work for your business.
There’s someone that sells insurance that I know very well, she’s a friend of mine, and she found that on LinkedIn she can just get a ton of leads there. Well, all the other insurance agents are marketing in different ways. She’s found that niche on LinkedIn, and she did it through trial and error… So that’s what I encourage people to do – instead of just focusing on your processes, leave a little bit of room for creativity to hire different people and see what actually works for your business.
Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on?
Nathan Hirsch: If you go to FreeeUp.com you can book a time in my calendar; I’m more than happy to talk to you about your business and your hiring needs that are right at the top. You can create a free account, get a $25 credit by mentioning this podcast, and check out the FreeeUp YouTube channel and the FreeeUp blog for a lot of great hiring content.
Joe Fairless: I love how you talked about how to approach thinking about hiring someone, and creating the list of what you do on a day-to-day basis, start chipping away at the top of those items for other people to do, and then being honest, really looking in the mirror and identifying what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, and just stop doing the stuff that you’re not good at, and bring on the right team members. Then, as you said towards the end, start testing certain things out.
There’s a lot of skilled people out there, and why have yourself do the things that you’re not as good at or don’t like doing, when there are plenty of people who enjoy doing that stuff, and consequently are very good at it.
Thanks again for being on the show, Nathan. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Nathan Hirsch: You too! Thanks so much for having me.