PR 79 | Remote Hiring

After trying over and over again to get fast access to good talent, Nathan Hirsch decided to build a process himself. Nathan is a serial entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and eCommerce. He started his first eCommerce business out of his college dorm room which sold over $25 million online. He is now the co-founder and CEO of FreeeUp.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers in eCommerce, digital marketing and much more. Nathan shares how he applies pivotal lessons from his first entrepreneurial venture, including how FreeeUp got started. He also discusses online hiring tactics and his take on the key steps to problem-solving.

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Remote Hiring Tactics with Nathan Hirsch

I’ve got a great guest. You’re going to love his story and what he’s up to in the world. I knew I was going to speak to him and that had me feeling good. At this moment, I feel very grateful for being alive. It seems that I cannot be grateful enough for each moment because I know intuitively that I have no idea what is going to happen other than what I have control over this moment, which is to be here and to be present. I am going to introduce this gentleman that you are going to learn a lot from. You’re going to get a lot of great resources from as well. Nathan Hirsch. Nate, as we call him, is a serial entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and e-commerce. He started his first eCommerce business out of his college dorm room and has sold over $25 million online. He is now the Co-Founder and the CEO of FreeeUp.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers 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. Nate, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Welcome.

It’s a pleasure to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this.

I know you’ve been doing some traveling. You’ve had a lot going on in your world. What’s something that you are appreciative of at this moment?

I’ve got to spend ten days in the Philippines meeting with people that I’ve worked with for over six years. They were nice enough to welcome me into their homes, to feed me, show me a great time and show me around the beautiful country. It was an unbelievable experience meeting so many people that I’ve been able to help over the years. They’ve been able to help me learn and grow as a person. I’m very grateful for that. I’m also grateful for being home after twenty days of traveling.

I can identify with that. When I started my more conscious pivot journey out of practicing law or doing anything that my heart wasn’t fully invested in and moving into this space that I’ve been in for almost ten years. I remember the travel was super exciting. I loved being able to travel internationally and all that. I also remember what it was like to come home from that travel, especially when the time zones are different. Your days and nights are mixed up.

When I was little, we traveled all over the world. I always enjoyed getting home the first few days hanging out on the couch.

I love reading people’s bios. I love to look past the bio because there’s so much that we could have written about ourselves, yet the things we write aren’t often the things that are most important to us. They’re important, but they’re not always the most important. What’s something that’s not in this bio that you think is important about you?

I’m a dog lover. When I was little, my parents never let me get a dog and I always wanted one more than anything in the world. About a year ago, I adopted this little guy. Now, I spend as much time as possible with him. It’s an unbelievable experience from not having a dog for twenty years to finally getting one, having that responsibility and knowing that it loves you, unconditionally.

My mother called me. I’m blessed that she’s around and doing well. She was talking to me about dogs. We have two big dogs. My brother and I grew up with dogs. He got a puppy, a Bernese, for his four kids. It’s a nice thing to have a dog or a cat around or some other companion that will appreciate and love you unconditionally, which is special.

Even working from home, you can go a little crazy sometimes being by yourself, even though you’re taking calls and talking to different people. Having someone around is something I wish I did earlier, back when I started working remote. It definitely makes a huge difference.

If you're a business owner, diversify your hiring. Make sure you don't have one person that is in charge of everything. Click To Tweet

You didn’t get a dog when you were younger. You weren’t as crazy as Randi and me. We got a dog when we were in college. I was a resident assistant, an RA, and had my own room. We picked up a puppy from a litter of puppies when we were working at a summer camp and took one home with us. I brought it to school and quickly found out that that was against every rule, especially to be an RA and have a dog in my room. My mom ended up being a surrogate to our beautiful puppy, Maggie, so many years ago. You also did some crazy stuff in college. A little different than bringing the dog and the girlfriend into the dorm room. Would you share with us what that was all about?

My parents, although they didn’t let me have a dog, they were always supportive. They wanted me to do whatever made me happy and pursue my dreams. At the same time, they were both teachers and they thought that the correct way to go about life was to graduate high school and get into a good college. Get good grades in college, get a real job, work for 30, 40 years, and retire with a family and that was life. They threw me into that at an early age. When I was in high school, I always worked a full-time summer job, 40 hours a week, every summer. It didn’t matter what my friends were doing, that was my goal. I was privileged enough to get some awesome jobs, working under some CEOs at the Aaron’s Corporation and Firestone, which is a huge company that I learned a lot about customer service.

I also realized that this is what life was like after college. You’re working 40 hours a week and you’re working for other people. A lot of the times, I was watching the clock and I wasn’t as motivated as I thought I could be if I was in more control and actually making the decisions of the company. I’ve got a little taste that I wouldn’t be happy pursuing that. When I got to college on one of the first days they had just started an entrepreneur program. The new professor came in and she said, “If you want financial freedom, if you want life freedom, the only way to do it is to become an entrepreneur.” That stuck with me. That was my wakeup call, “This is what I want to do.”

PR 79 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: If you want financial freedom, if you want life freedom, the only way to do it is to become an entrepreneur.

I signed up for the entrepreneur program and started learning a lot about marketing, budgeting, running financials. I knew I wanted to start a business. At the same time, the school bookstore was ripping me off. I was buying books for hundreds of dollars and selling them back for pennies and a dollar. I was pissed off as most college students are, so I wanted to change that. I opened up my own bookstore out of my dorm room and I was selling to all these online retailers that I could find. Before I knew it, it blew up. I was sitting at a desk and there were lines going around the corner of people selling me their books. It came to a point that I got a cease and desist letter from the school telling me to knock it off because I was stealing too much of their business.

We had a lot in common. You were taking their business away from the school store.

Rules are meant to be broken. From there, I knew that I couldn’t sell books for the rest of my life. I thought we’d stop using books right now and we’d be all on a tablet. It hasn’t exactly happened. The book business became under the table, I couldn’t exactly have lines out the door anymore. From selling books I came across Amazon because you don’t sell books for very long without learning about Amazon. Back then in 2009, they were just starting to take that peak away from the bookstore and to different products. I started trying out different products, things that I was comfortable with, sporting equipment, computers, DVDs, stuff I thought it was cool and I failed over and over. The only thing I could get to sell were books and it was frustrating. One day, I was trying to find some cheap products to sell and I came across a baby product. It was one of those toy laptops that fold up and down and that the kids can press buttons and hear sounds. I got the idea in my head to dropship it that year before I even knew it was called drop shipping. I could sell this product that I didn’t have possession of and make the difference between what I sold it for and what I paid for. The supplier would ship it to the customer.

In my mind, I would try this a few times and if it worked great, I will keep going. If the customer will complain, then I would stop and try something else. Luckily, the customer never complained. I started selling that product over and over. The light bulb went off when I got out of my comfort level a little bit and started selling things that were very popular like baby products, home goods, things that people buy a lot, I could make a lot of money. From there, I continued to grow and grow this business, drop shipping from different suppliers, building relationships, and that’s how I got off the ground. Before I knew it, I was bringing this multimillion-dollar business out of my college dorm room. I was making every good and bad decision that young entrepreneurs make. From that, that’s where it led to hiring.

Unlike a lot of entrepreneurs, you also hit a wall at a certain point. Did that business continue to grow and are you still working in that business now?

Yes, the business continues to do very well. When we got to year one, we hit a hiccup. We had been working with this one supplier. I had to start hiring people, so I hired this one manager of the day to run everything from customer service to listing to repricing products. Everything was going great. I was a young guy making more money than I could ever imagine making at that age.

Are you still in college at this point?

Yes. I was a junior at the time. I decided to take the first vacation that I’ve taken in over a year and a half. I had been spending 24/7 working on this business and I took a vacation, planned it all out, Myrtle Beach. It was going to be incredible for all my friends, some people I work with and people I didn’t. On the first day of the trip, I got a call from the manufacturer telling me that he no longer wanted to work with me. Then I got a call from the manager of the day telling me that he wanted to focus on college and that he couldn’t work for me anymore. My six months of training I put in went out the window. To top it off, I got a call from my accountant telling me that someone had stolen my identity and filed the tax return in my name. I went from this unbelievable high to this terrible low where I thought I’d lost everything I’d worked for a year and a half, seven days a week. It was just gone. Not only that, but the end of college was creeping up. It was time to go out and get a real job.

Problem solving is putting steps in place to never let the same thing happen again. Click To Tweet

I want to set the context here. You’re away, you take a vacation and you’re there with your mates. It’s the first day, you get three pieces of information. Your main supplier says, “We’re no longer doing business.” You find out from the guy that’s running your business that you’ve left in charge of the house and he says, “I’m out of here. I can’t do it anymore.” Then you also get a notice from your accountant that says somebody’s taking your identity, filed a tax return and you’ve got to deal with that. All this was on the first day of your vacation.

The first day of my vacation was ruined. I didn’t enjoy the rest of that week.

You drank the rest of the night and the following three days in a row.

I honestly couldn’t wait to get back. How do you focus on vacation when you know you’re coming back to a big mess? I learned so many lessons from that day and I’m so happy that I learned that as a young entrepreneur. Step one, don’t invest a lot in college kids because their number one priority is knowledge and rightfully so. It’s not a great investment in terms of hiring people. Two was diversification. If you’re going to diversify in your stock portfolio, you should definitely diversify in your suppliers. If you’re a business owner, diversify your hiring as well. Make sure you don’t have one person that is in charge of everything and make sure that you departmentalize. It was also a lesson to security as well and keeping your personal information a little safer.

From that, I came back and was determined. I looked at the bank account and I was like, “We have X amount of money left.” This was when we run out and shut down. “Let’s do everything possible with the manpower that we have to get this back on track. Let’s learn from those lessons and not make the same mistake again.” We started reaching out to all these different suppliers, “Can you work with us? Can we partner?” We started departmentalizing. We’ve got one person for customer service, one person for listing, one person coordinating their training so that it didn’t take six months to train. Someone could get them in and go within a few weeks. Within six months, we had not only grown the business bigger, but we were safer and more diverse. It was that calling card when a problem happens because as an entrepreneur you go up and down, you can always work your way back out.

PR 79 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: As an entrepreneur, you go up and down, but you can always work your way back up.

 

People reading this can identify with one of those days where everything that could go wrong does go wrong. It’s fairly ironic that that happens on the first day of a vacation. How often has that happened? We used to take vacations and it would be like clockwork that within the first couple of days we’re on vacation, we’re going to deal with something that’s unexpected. It was so unexpected than we expected it. I’m sure there are a lot of people reading this and thinking, “That’s exactly what happens to me, which is why I don’t take vacations or why I take a few vacations as possible.” Digging yourself out of the mess of sometimes taking some time to yourself is a way that we program ourselves not to go away, not to leave things unguarded and unprotected.

That’s a major problem that people don’t take time for themselves and their families. They don’t have a work-life balance because the idea is, “I don’t want to deal with that heap of trouble afterward. That stuff is just too much to deal with.” The vacation is gone when you get back. What did you do to deal with that? I want to get into the details a little bit of how you transitioned out of that bad day into getting yourself back on track, making some changes, learning some things, and then getting into momentum. Let’s call that the pivot point. I’m not sure that’s the exact pivotal moment, but you go away thinking everything is great. You get to your destination and you find all the wheels are falling off the bus all at once. Take us back to that point and then drive us forward from there.

I’m a very logical person. You see that emotional element of it for a little while. You’re like, “This sucks. Why me? How could this happen?” As an entrepreneur, you have to get over that quick and your gear into problem-solving mode. The first step in problem-solving, whether it’s a customer complaint or a big issue like this, is to get all the information. If you don’t have all the information, you can’t proceed forward or you’re going to make decisions based on that information. For me, it was figuring out why this supplier dropped us. Is there anything that we can do to get them back on? Why did this person stop working for us? Is there anything we did wrong? Was it something that we could have prevented early on?

It’s the same thing with the identity. How did it happen? Are there any leads to that? Just gathering overall information, making phone calls and getting the whole picture. From there, you figure out what resources you have left. For me, it was an X amount of money in my bank account, I had a business partner, and I had these two part-time college kids working. For me now with FreeeUp, it’s the same thing. If it’s a customer complaint, it’s like, “I’m running into some meetings, I have two people available. I have this budget.” Whatever it is, figure out what resources you have.

Number three is developing that plan. If we’re going to move forward, how do we execute it? You’re going to be contacting manufacturers, writing the sales pitch, and starting interviewing new people as a replacement. You’re going to be dividing, conquering and figuring out how to spend your time. Number four is adjusting based on what’s going on. If we’re not getting responses from new manufacturers, if we’re not able to hire those replacements, we’ll need some tweaking and adjusting. The final thing that people always forget in the problem solving is you put steps in place to never let that same thing happen again.

If you don't have all the information, you can't proceed forward. Click To Tweet

In this case, when you’re diversifying, I don’t ever want to rely on one person again. I want to make sure that I’m not investing in college students. If I’m problem-solving a customer return on the Amazon store like the package got lost in the mail. What do I could do to prevent this or lowering the chance of that happening again? Maybe it’s contacting FedEx or changing shipping companies or upgrading it, whatever that system and process change is.

What I’ve got were five steps and this is key. The first part was you gathered information. The second part was you started to ask why, “Why did this person leave? Why did the supplier decide they didn’t want to do business? Why were you vulnerable to the kind of attack you were in regard to your identity, tax return and all that?” Many people bury their heads in the sand and when something bad happens, the last thing in the world that they want to do is stick their head back into that beehive, but you were willing to do that. Number three is you created a new plan. Number four, you looked at the plan for what needed to be or could be adjusted. Maybe the plan is working decently well because you created a new plan or maybe it’s not working well, so you adjust the plan from there. Lastly, you put steps in place so that you didn’t revisit the same issue and the same thing might not happen again.

It’s something I teach my assistant to this day, especially when they’re calling for me. I’m like, “If the problem comes up, follow the same structure. Don’t jump into solving it before you get all the information. If the plan’s not working, if you see that maybe the client’s not happy with your execution, tweak it. It’s the same thing no matter how big or how small the problem is.”

Was it all smooth sailing from there or did you have more challenges? About the guy that left, did you ever speak to him? Give us a sense of what that might have been like. That must have been tough when you have a right-hand person you put in charge of something. We’ve all been there. In fact, I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who are solopreneurs. The reason that they’re solopreneurs is that they don’t feel like they can trust anybody. They think that they’ve got to do it all themselves or they’re the only ones who can do it perfectly. That’s a big part of their problem because they can’t scale from there. They can’t grow very much when they’re responsible, where they make themselves responsible to be chief cook, bottle washer, the person who licks the stamps, sends the envelopes, everything. You had that person you were delegating and then the rug got pulled out from under you.

It’s tough to trust people again after that happened. Whenever I think about not hiring or not expanding, I always go back to when I first started the business and it was starting to take off a little bit. I met with my accountant, I thought it was a good idea to start paying taxes. I was like, “Life is great. I’m working seven days a week. I love what I do. All the money’s going into my pocket. I don’t have to pay anyone else.” He laughed at me and he was like, “You’re going to have to hire. You can either listen to me or you can figure it out for yourself.” I didn’t listen to him. I went out and went through my first busy season alone. By the end of it, I had ruined the relationship with my girlfriend, I hadn’t seen my friends in months, I was working nonstop, I was a wreck, and I wasn’t sleeping. I got to January and I was like, “I can never let that happen again.”

I started hiring and that led me to hire the manager of the day and learning a very valuable lesson. When I came back from that vacation, I started diversifying and hiring for different tasks, things started to go well and we’re growing and growing. When I moved to Florida, a buddy of mine had mentioned the oDesk, the Upwork world, the remote hiring community, and I became addicted to it. I thought, “This was so cool. I’m paying someone $50,000 a year in the office and he’s spending 40% of his time doing tasks that are way below his pay grade, so let’s get him an assistant. Let’s get the assistant an assistant. Let’s delegate these tasks out to people all around the world. Let’s stop competing with the businesses around me for all the local talent and get access to all these people.”

PR 79 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: Get feedback from the people on the ground doing the actual work.

 

As I continued to grow and hire people, I quickly found out that I moved from doing the things I liked like marketing to the things I didn’t like, which was all HR, posting jobs, going through applicants. I did interview after interview and, at the same time, my turnover was through the roof. Every time I would hire and invest in someone, they would walk out the door. It wasn’t until I had the same position. I had three consecutive people click and that was a turning point for me. I was pissed off, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get people to stay. The company was doing well. I thought I was treating people okay and no one wanted to work for me. I decided enough was enough and I asked the guy for one hour of his time for an exit interview. I’m sure how uncomfortable that can be.

This is a guy who’s told you he’s leaving and saying, “I quit.” You said to them, “I need to take an hour of your time if I could?”

Yes, and he was nice enough to do it. We both knew we would never see each other again. He was not happy with me and didn’t like me since he’s leaving, and I was pissed off at him too for wasting my time and money. We sat there for an hour, he was really honest with me. He would hit me in the gut with everything that I was doing wrong as an entrepreneur. Everything that I wasn’t doing that would have kept him in the company if I had just done it. It was such an eyeopener for me to get feedback from the people on the ground doing the actual work and that changed me as an entrepreneur.

What are some of the things that you heard from him?

Some of the things that he told me were the whole interview process. I was focusing on talented people. I’ve always been good at finding and surrounding myself with talented people, but the talented people in the other room, it was cancer. We weren’t factoring anything in terms of attitude or communication, it was all just skill. How talented are you? How fast can you work? He said, “You need to focus on attitude and communication. You need to find people who aren’t just in it for the paycheck. You need to find people who are passionate about what they do that care about. In FreeeUp’s case, the client, and in my case, the Amazon business. You need to find people who want to be there.”

If I hire a bookkeeper because I hate doing bookkeeping, they have to love being a bookkeeper as much as I love being an entrepreneur. That stuck with me focusing on that and their ability to communicate. Their ability to get their message across hit deadlines, update you if they can’t work instead of not showing up or not doing a project on time. It helped me restructure my entire interview process where I value skill the same way that I value attitude and communication. If someone has two out of the three, they don’t work for me.

Find people who aren't just in it for the paycheck but are passionate about what they do and care about. Click To Tweet

In his exit interview, he said to you that a part of the reason he was leaving was that you had poor hiring practices, or the people around had a poor attitude? Fill in the gap here a little bit.

He said that one of the reasons he was leaving was that it was a cancerous culture. The reason that it was a cancerous culture was that we were letting people in who were talented, but that didn’t have positive attitudes. If you let two, three, four into a group that has a bad attitude, it brings the entire company down in this case.

This was a revelation for you?

Absolutely. He also told me that in the three months he had worked there, this was the only time I had asked them for feedback on that exit interview. I never asked him whether he was enjoying his job, whether he liked being there, whether there were any ideas or situations that we could improve within the company. Going back to problem-solving, I never let that mistake happened again. I put steps in place for work, constantly sending out surveys. We build a culture where it’s required for you to bring ideas to the table. We don’t want to work with robots. Some of the best ideas, the ones that have made me the most money and cut the most cost have now come from other people. I’ve given them that platform to share where it’s no longer the boss talking down to people, “This is what I say because I said so.” It’s, “We’re all working together. Everyone bring your best ideas to the table every day.”

Anything else that this guy was able to share with you or teach you anything else?

A lot about setting expectations for people. He said that during our interview process we would interview someone, they would get the job, and we would throw them into the fire, “We hired you to manage our products, go manage our products.” We didn’t spend that time after they were hired to get on the same page with them, “This is what’s expected. This is what we like and what we don’t like. This is what’s acceptable at the company and this is what’s not. This is what Bob, Michael and Sandy do. Why don’t you meet them and figure out how your job goes along with them instead of throwing me into the fire?” It had me create more, I call it, Onboarding Packets where people could read them, ask me any questions, and get on the same page quickly. Instead of being thrown into what we think that they’re supposed to do when they might think it’s totally different.

Your onboarding procedure is basically three things. At that time, you were hiring for skill only, anybody that was an all-star, you’d bring on the team. What he said was, “That’s great to have skills, but if you’ve got a crappy attitude, if your communication skills are poor, it creates a toxic environment.” Clearly, this guy didn’t want to work in a toxic environment. The second was feedback. You hadn’t been interested in getting his feedback or finding out how his life and his job was during the period of time. He didn’t feel like you had any interest in him. The third was that there were no expectations. He had no way of measuring whether he was meeting those expectations or not, whether he was tracking according to what would give him an opportunity to advance in the company or moving backward.

There are other personal things like how I would treat people, how I would send out emails, how I could be harsher and more direct instead of feeling the emotional elements that go into play when you’re dealing with real people. Those are definitely the three takeaways that had the most impact on me going forward.

It sounds like this guy hit you right between the eyes.

It was needed, honestly. I didn’t think I needed at the time. If you go into a restaurant, the last thing you want to do is ask the restaurant owner how everything’s doing. You want to ask the waiters, the chefs, the people that are on the ground making the food and interacting with the customers. That’s how you get the best feel. When you’re dealing with people, it’s the same way. You want to go directly to the source. If you’re going to fix the overall process and the overall problem.

PR 79 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: When you’re dealing with people, you want to go directly to the source if you’re going to fix the overall process and the overall problem.

 

This was all relative to the drop shipping business that you started in college, but that’s not how I came to know you and came to meet you. In the bio, we talked about FreeeUp, which is your freelance business now. Give us a little catch up on how that business got started, how you apply these early and pivotal lessons from your first entrepreneurial venture, and how that informs your business.

We fixed our turnover problem. We redid our entire interview process, setting expectations, created this incredible culture. Over years of doing that, we had a good hiring system. We were keeping people at 95% retention. We were finding talented people remotely from all over the world. We ended up getting rid of the office and moving it back to remote because we realized we had added overhead to a business that required no overhead, which was not one of my best business decisions. I was spending all this time doing interviews after interviews. Even though we were good at it, it wasn’t a good use of my time. As I was talking to other business owners, Amazon sellers, and people in the eCommerce world, I realized that other people were having the same issue.

I wanted a way to get faster access to talent. I didn’t want to post a job and go through all the applicants. That’s when the idea of FreeeUp came about where we could create a freelancer marketplace to compete with the big ones out there. Our difference was we are going to take that eight years of the hiring process that we created and put it into effect with FreeeUp where we get hundreds of applicants every week. We vet them for the skill, attitude, communication, take the top 1%, let them in, and then make them available to clients quickly whenever they need them. Then adding protection on the back end that we knew the other marketplaces didn’t have 24/7 support if anything goes wrong. If a freelancer quits, we cover all replacement costs. You don’t have to go in, post a new job and interview another hundred people to get that replacement. Whenever you start a new business, you never know what the reaction’s going to be like, but it’s taken off. People love the idea of getting access to talents quickly and being protected.

What’s incredible is that it was a solution you had to your own problem. It’s common in seeing companies that succeed in pivoting in their model. Part of how they pivot is to solve a problem of their own. Once they’ve solved that problem in their own, then they go, “This is something of a solution point for other people as well.” It sounds like that’s exactly what happened to you.

I was always looking for a way that I could get access to fast talent. After trying it over and over, it was like, “I’ll just build it myself.”

Value skill the same way that you value attitude and communication. Click To Tweet

That business is growing and you’re still applying the same learnings. These pivotal learnings are part of how it is that you’ve structured your new business, and this is a part of how you onboard freelancers. It means that, “I, as a business owner and an entrepreneur, wants to bring somebody on. I don’t want to go through that whole vetting process. I want to make sure I’ve gotten somebody that’s been pre-vetted and has that trifecta which are skills, attitude and excellent communication.” What I’m hearing you say is that you do that so I don’t have to do that.

I was in the Philippines and we took our entire internal team to get massages and stay at a resort. We treated them well and part of that was also asking for feedback, “How do we improve? What do you like? What do you not like?” It’s something that we don’t forget. You don’t forget those moments where the light bulb goes off and you always want to keep that involved. We also ran an event where we had hundreds of freelancers from all around the Philippines driving in and flying in to just come to this event to hear us talk. It was a room of positive people. You could tell that we had vetted people for attitude as much as for communication and for skill. It was cool to see it all come together. It’s awesome to see a client who’s struggled to hire, maybe they are that soloprenuer or that has stayed away from hiring because they’ve had those bad experiences, to submit a worker request, get introduced to someone within a few hours and hit the ground running. It becomes addictive after a while when you realized you can take stuff off their plate and give it to reliable people that will communicate and have a positive attitude every day.

What’s the hardest piece of feedback that you got while you were in the Philippines?

A lot about our software, to be honest. Whenever you’re competing with the Upworks of the world, the people with multimillion-dollar software budgets, you’re always going to lag a little behind. There are three parts of the business. You’re adding clients, you’re adding freelancers and you’re working on the software. We’ve got a lot of brutal constructive feedback on our software and how it compares to the other people in the industry. Now it’s on Connor and me to figure out how to invest in that, improve it and bring it up to standards.

What was the best piece of feedback that you think you’ve got?

The best piece of feedback was how much we’ve meant to other people and how much we’ve changed people’s lives. I have a picture with a freelancer standing next to a car with his thumbs up and it’s a car that he bought through making money on the FreeeUp platform. We paid out over $3 million to freelancers last year, all around the world just to meet their families, people that we’ve made a difference with and knowing that they appreciate us as much as we appreciate them. We know that we’re nothing without them, so we appreciate that a lot. It was just an incredible feeling.

PR 79 | Remote Hiring

Remote Hiring: The best piece of feedback I got was how much we’ve changed people’s lives.

 

One of the things that I would remark about you is your level of openness that you’re okay to have a conversation about anything. You seem to be open to feedback. Nobody sits down after somebody says, “I want to leave,” and says, “Before you leave, I want you to tell me everything you can about what’s wrong or what you see is needing improvement or why you’re leaving.” It’s not easy to sit down as the founder of a company and ask people. The person you are and how you show up is wonderful. What are the practices or rituals that you have that help you to show up as that best version of yourself?

One thing that I’ve adopted over the years as I got older is getting up early before everyone else. I’m sure you’d get a lot of emails, Skype messages and phone calls during the day. To have an hour or two alone to focus and get organized for the day is huge. The random days that I sleep-in, maybe after getting back from a trip to the Philippines and I’m sleeping in that extra hour, it’s not as productive. Getting those extra hours in the day away from other people just to focus, get organized and get stuff done is huge. The other thing that I do when it gets to 4:00 PM, 4:30 PM, the phone goes off, the laptop goes away, and I work out hard for an hour. It’s my stress reliever. It’s the best thing that I adopted about three years ago when I hired a personal trainer to focus on the body. To focus on relaxing the mind because we all know how stressful this can be. The other thing is giving my cell phone to my girlfriend when we’re out so that I’m not even attempted to check emails and take phone calls.

You get rid of your cell phone, you’re not even allowed to touch it.

It’s the only way. If it’s in my hand and I tell myself not to look at it, I’m going to look at it.

You’ve seen results in life, whether it’s been business results or personal life results, it’s important to put them into systems and processes. One of your strengths is in taking things in systemizing them. Whether it’s that system for onboarding new people or it’s that system to get feedback and apply feedback in your business, the system is important. I appreciate very much that you shared your system and that you were vulnerable and shared even some of that feedback that you’ve received. I also want people to be able to get access to what it is that you are about because your company offers solutions across the board.

This is a virtual solution, it’s not about necessarily hiring somebody to be an employee. It’s not an employment service, it’s a service that fills gaps for folks, whether those are short-term or long-term. You do a lot of the heavy lifting for them in terms of the vetting. I can speak as our company has used your services a number of times and we’ve been thrilled with the quality of the people, the skills, attitudes and communication of those folks that we’ve hired. Even when it wasn’t 100% fit, once or twice we’ve had some folks where we said, “It might not be a great fit,” the way that you guys handled that situation was impeccable. That speaks a lot to the fact that you didn’t hear the feedback, you’ve applied it and now it becomes a strength.

One of the things that people don’t realize is that sometimes when we get bad news, or the client complains about something, that’s such an opportunity for growth for us because that feedback is invaluable. It creates a call to action and to improve. If you meet that challenge or the client who’s difficult or that client who can’t be seemingly satisfied or just relentless and you were able to put systems and processes in place to meet that person where they are and give them more love and attention, your business improves in that process. Would you agree?

Those angry, unreasonable clients are going to be lifers because you're the only people that can put up with them and can make them happy. Click To Tweet

Yes. I always tell freelancers that those angry, unreasonable clients are the best long-term clients because other people won’t deal with them. Other people won’t up with them and you can make them happy and obviously set expectations so they’re not calling you at 3:00 AM and get on the same page. They’re going to be lifers because you’re the only people that can put up with them and can make them happy. I’ve changed a lot of freelancers’ mindsets with that. People can contact me at FreeeUp.com. My calendar is right on the site. I’d love to set up a meeting to talk to you about your business, what we offer and how we can help you. Creating an account is free. There’s no sign-up fee, no monthly fees, no minimums. It’s in our best interest to find people that help you and help you grow your business.

Thank you so much for sharing your story. We don’t always think that those days, like the day you described where everything that can go wrong, seemingly does go wrong. It’s hard to always see how that moment can be pivotal. Three years, five years, ten years later, you look back on it and go, “That day was a blessing.” It sounds to me like even as tough as that must have been for you where so many things were going wrong, to look back on it and think, “That was a pivotal time.” Your trajectory might have been a little different had that day not occurred. That’s special. I want to take note of that.

I want to remind our community and for those of you that are reading for the first time, I’ll also let you know of the ritual and the practice that I get to share with all of you each podcast and around the world. We’re all going to wake up tomorrow. That is a hope, a prayer and a wish. It’s something that we’re not guaranteed either because as we take that for granted sometimes. We’re waking up and there is no doubt that there are people that are taking that first deep breath of the day and there are people who are taking their last breath. That’s something we can appreciate. There are also babies that are being born and are taking their very first breath of life at the moment. That moment is not just a moment, it’s a special, sacred and holy moment. It’s something that we can appreciate. The first step is that we wake up. I’m going to put my hand on my heart and say, “I’m going to wake up tomorrow.” That’s also a metaphor for life that we get to be a little bit more awake, aware, conscious, and alive.

The second part is to be grateful. Regardless of the challenges that may be happening in your life in the world around us, we see them everywhere politically and economically, we can still be grateful at that moment. The third part is if you’re willing, as you’re waking up and lying in bed, either in that moment or when you put your feet on the floor, declare out loud, “I love my life.” With that, I will say thank you. Thank you, Nate, for being on the show. Thank you to everybody who’s reading. If you’re on iTunes, please leave a review. We’d love to hear from you. The reviews are important. If you haven’t yet subscribed, please go ahead and do that as well. You can join us on our Facebook community. I wish for all of you that your heart’s desires come true, that you have a blessed day, and that you truly love your life. Wake up, be grateful and declare out loud how special you are in the moment. I’ll see you soon. Ciao for now.

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About Nathan Hirsch

PR 79 | Remote HiringNathan Hirsch is a serial entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and eCommerce. He started his first eCommerce business out of his college dorm room and has sold over $25 million online. He is now the co-founder and CEO of FreeeUp.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers 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.