Wouldn’t it be great if you could get the right people in place to scale and expand your ecommerce business? For some TAS followers, this may be a little too much “cart before the horse” type thinking but many of you are ready for expansion now and need help. If that’s not you, bookmark this episode of The Amazing Seller podcast featuring outsourcing expert, Nathan Hirsch! Nathan goes over his background with selling on Amazon, when you should start outsourcing tasks, why you should treat hiring a team member as an investment, setting the right expectations, the importance of good communication, and so much more! You don’t want to miss a minute of this valuable episode with Nathan!
Start with a list!
Where do you even start in identifying which tasks you need to outsource to free up your time and grow your business? Is there a simple way to hone in on the right tasks to outsource as you take this first step in building a team? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott talks to outsourcing expert, Nathan Hirsch. The best way to begin this process, according to Nathan, is to make a list of all the tasks you do for your business on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Once you’ve made that list, circle the three easiest tasks and the three tasks that you hate to do the most. Nathan says, that from there, you have a good start on what tasks you need to get off of your plate. To hear more from Nathan’s insights, make sure to listen to this episode!
Why it’s important to interview team members to find the best fit.
Once you’ve identified which tasks you are ready to hand off and outsource to new team members, you’ve got to find the person who will be the right fit for your team! What should you look for when you go to hire someone? Is it just about the skillset or are there other factors you should look for? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Nathan Hirsch breaks down three areas he’s identified as the most important to look for when you interview a new team member.
Nathan is convinced that you have to have all three factors engaged if you want to find a good fit for your team. If you just look for someone with the right skill set but they don’t have a good attitude or if their communication is lacking, you are going to have a negative experience. Make sure to listen to this episode as Nathan expands on this subject and much more!
Treat your new hires as an investment.
As much as you’d like to hit it out of the park every time when it comes to adding new team members, you’ve got to remember to treat the process as an investment. Some team members will work out really well while others won’t. You’ve got to learn to roll with the punches and keep moving forward. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott talks to outsourcing expert, Nathan Hirsch about how to get started when building your team and put people in the best situations to succeed. You’ll walk away from this episode with clear action steps that you can use today or down the road so you can take your business to the next level of growth. Don’t miss this helpful episode!
Don’t underestimate the necessity of setting the right expectations!
One of the worst things to happen to a relationship either personal or professional is to have mismatched expectations. How do you set the right expectations so you and your team stay on the same page from day one? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott and his guest, Nathan Hirsch go over the role of expectations. As the leader of your business, you set the tone. Make sure to put your expectations in black and white, even consider creating a document that your new hires can refer back to so they know and you know what the appropriate expectations are. Make sure to listen to this episode as Scott and Nathan further discuss this important topic!
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [4:00] Scott welcomes his guest, Nathan Hirsch?
- [5:30] Nathan shares his background and how he got started with Amazon.
- [9:30] When do you decide to start outsourcing tasks?
- [13:00] Start with a list of everything you do for your business daily, weekly, and monthly.
- [15:00] Treating hiring as an investment.
- [17:00] How to find the right person to join your team.
- [21:30] Interview to find the best fit.
- [24:30] You’ve got to have the right expectations.
- [28:00] How to integrate new team members into your business.
- [30:30] Setting up good communication habits.
- [35:00] Hiring someone for one-time projects and small hour commitments.
- [38:00] Is it best to hire someone from the US or overseas?
- [40:30] What does the process look like at Free Up?
- [43:30] What do most ecommerce leaders hire help for on Free Up?
- [47:00] Closing thoughts from Nathan.
- [49:30] Scott wraps up the episode.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 467
TAS 467: 6 Tips to Grow Your Amazon Business Using Outsourcing with Nathan Hirsch
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 467 and today we're going to be going over…
[read more=”Read full transcript…” less=”Read less”]
…six tips to grow your Amazon business or ecommerce business for that matter using outsourcing and I've got an expert in this field and his name is Nathan Hirsch. Well, he started like we did. He started a drop shipping business, now we might not have done that but he's been in this space for a while and he's seen very quickly how much work it was to run a business when you're trying to scale it. So he started to hire other people to help him with outsourcing and with VAs as we call them, virtual assistants and just independent contractors in a sense.
So what I decided to do is to get Nathan on because he's an expert in this field and I really wanted to pick his brain. I wanted to go through what it takes to start this whole process but more importantly how to go through the process and when to decide you really need this because some of us are just starting and we think to ourselves, well we don't really need any outsourcing. The truth to that is you probably could use it to speed up the process and probably do a better job, whether that's graphics, whether that's content, whether that's book keeping.
It really doesn't matter. At any stage of your business, you can probably use a virtual assistant or independent contractor to help you grow your business. So what we're going to be discussing again is these six tips. Now just to give you those really quickly but we're going to dig deep into those. It's really about how to identify that first task to take off your plate. That's a big one. The other one is identifying the perfect worker and setting a budget, what can you afford and what is it worth to you? The other one is interviewing to find the best. How do you, interview? What are we going to ask these people? How are we going to know that they are a good worker for us or an independent contractor? The next one is setting expectations.
[00:02:01] Scott: The other one is integrating into your business. How do we get them now integrated into the business so they can become part of our team in a sense. It's kind of like your sourcing agent. I've talked about this in the past, you're building a relationship with them so that way there they can be part of your team. They are going to help you ultimately build and grow your business. So you need to think about every person that you're bringing into your business. They are part of your team. Start thinking about it that way and I'm telling you, you will enter the game with a team and then win the game with a team because you're going to be able to lean on other people and their strengths and only do what you really are going to excel at.
I've always talked about that even with a business partnership. Then the last one we're going to talk about is setting up regular communication methods and how you can do this so this way here you're not on Skype or the phone for like an hour discussing everything. You can set it up so this way here you can have that regular communication see what's happening but then more importantly getting stuff done. So that's really what we're going to be talking about. I'm really excited to share this with you. I had no idea how it was going to go with Nathan but it went really, really well and we dug into some really good points and tips and things that you can do when you're going through this process. All the way from deciding even if it's the right time for you.
But if you're at all thinking about growing your business whether it's now or even in the future, this is a must listen to episode. I think you're going to take a ton away from this and take it from Nathan, someone that was in our shoes in a sense to where they were building business trying to scale it and then decided to reach out, find other people but then getting obsessed with that process to where he's like, you know what, there's got to be an easier way that I can find people but then also vet them out quicker and come up with this process and build a small army in a sense of ones that he vets and then recruits and then from there decide if they are the right fit for your business.
So I'm going to stop talking now so you can listen to this episode. The show notes to this episode will be found at theamazingseller.com/467. And again, this is six tips to grow your Amazon business using outsourcing with Nathan Hirsch. So sit back, relax, and enjoy.
[00:04:09] Scott: Well, Nathan thank you so much for coming on the podcast man. How are you doing?
[00:04:13] Nathan: I'm doing great Scott. How are you?
[00:04:14] Scott: I'm doing fantastic and I'm really excited to dive into this topic today because a lot of people don't realize that they can get help in their business to help them grow their business and you don't have to be this huge company. A lot of people think that you have to be at a certain level before you start thinking about hiring. I know myself personally when I got out of the brick and mortar business I was like, “I'm not hiring anyone ever again. I don't want employees,” but I do now hire VAs and stuff like that. I know that you have a thing to say about those topics. So really excited to have you man.
[00:04:49] Nathan: Yeah, I really appreciate you having me on.
[00:04:52] Scott: Okay, what I want to do is I really want to give people some actionable stuff that they can walk away with but I want to talk about from your experience and maybe even going back to your story, how did you get even introduced to VAs and hiring and even helping other businesses hire people even for them to grow. Take us back your story a little bit to let us know where Nathan comes from.
[00:05:19] Nathan: It's been a world when I was thrown into it. I started out as a broke college student looking for extra beer money back in 2008/2009 and I started buying and selling people's text book just to make an extra dollar here and there. I started finding these online vendors to sell books from. I came across Amazon one day and I just became addicted to it. I was obsessed with it. I just wanted to sell really cool products like sporting equipment and TVs and computers and for six months I just failed over and over again. Finally I jumped outside my comfort zone and I started to experimenting with baby products and toys and I found out that I was really good as a 20 year old single college guy selling baby products on Amazon.
So I started to grow this drop shipping business and before I knew it I was running this multimillion dollar Amazon business out of my college dorm room. I got into Amazon at a great time. And as I was growing this business I figured it's about time I should start paying taxes so I met with an accountant and he looked at me and he was like, “Okay, so when are you going to start hiring?” And I kind of shrugged him off. I was like, “Why would I do that? I want to keep the money in my pocket. No one can do it as well as I can. This is fun for me, I can do this forever.” He just laughed at my face. And he was like good luck. So I got hit with my first busy season or my first two busy seasons and they totally destroyed me. I had no idea what was in store.
I was balancing school and being in a fraternity and everything that goes on when you're in college with running this ecommerce business so I was getting crazy amount of orders. And you know with dropshipping, it's everything from managing tracking numbers, customer service to placing orders on different websites. As I finally survived that first busy season, I was like wow I can't do this myself. I started hiring my first employee and I got really lucky. It was my business partner Connor who had been working with me for eight years. But over the next five years of hiring, I made a lot of bad hires as well and it was kind of a balance of good and bad.
[00:07:22] Nathan: I just wanted there to be a better way. So when a friend of mine introduced me to oDesk or the Upworks of the world, I became addicted to it. I wanted to build a VA army and I really did and I became determined to not only build a VA army but to build the best of the best and come up with systems and process to vet these VAs. As I grew that and I was talking to other Amazon sellers who really hated the process of posting jobs and interviewing them, I thought that there just could be a better way to use my system to get them access this talent. When I started giving them my Amazon VAs, they started asking for more stuff like graphic designers and developers and that's really how the concept of FreeeUp started and how I went from a broke college kid to owning two companies.
[00:08:07] Scott: That's interesting because everybody can learn a little bit from a story and it's like your story is unique in itself that you were going through, figuring out a way to make some money online, doing drop shipping which is not an easy thing. Then it led you to where you are now. I just find it interesting, to dig in and unpack other people's stories because again like you didn't know that you were going to be doing what you're doing right now until you actually got involved in this thing and said, “You know what, I probably should do this.” Then you got obsessed with like the power of hiring VAs and assistants and all that stuff. It's pretty cool man. I love listening to how things unfold because everyone has a story.
[00:08:51] Nathan: I appreciate it. People always ask, how have you been so successful? Half the battle is just surrounding yourself with really good smart hardworking people that make you look really good and make you money and cut costs and I think a lot of entrepreneurs don't realize that.
[00:09:05] Scott: 100%. Here's the thing though, I'm going to get right to it. If I'm running a business like you're a business, I'm running a business, when do you decide that I should hire someone for this thing because me personally it's hard because I've always been a hands on person. It's hard for me, it's funny. I just had someone the other day that said, “I can't hire someone to do that because can't do as good as me.” I'm sure you've heard that 1,000 times. So how do you help me, the person that's thinking like this, how do you help me and say, you know what there's some things that you're probably doing over and over again that we can outsource that you can free up your time to actually do something else. Take me through that process. How do we see when it's time?
[00:09:53] Nathan: That's one of the lessons I learned early on. It's not only are there people that you can do stuff but a lot of times they can do it better than you can depending on what it is. But when you're running a business, when you get to that point where you have a revenue stream, you are profitable, you're actually taking a pay check or you're very close to it or maybe you're just reinvesting back to the company, that's usually where I advise people start hiring. If you have a small budget, you can look at it more as a project by project basis. Hey, get someone to build my website, build my logo, maybe optimize one Amazon listing and really break it down.
Then as your business makes more money, then you start focusing on getting some hours back in your week or in your day. Hey, let's take this two hour task off my plate and give it to someone else so that I can spend my time on that sales, that expansion and that marketing. I start hiring people very early on for both my businesses, they are boot strapped. I invested under $1,000 in each of them. And I just kept reinvesting into the company but I just didn't wake up one day with 15 full time assistants like I have now. It was hey, let's get this hour back here. Let's complete this project and as the business grows you add up their hours, and you add up more people.
[00:11:03] Scott: I agree and I've learned even since I said I would never hire again, I'm hiring and we do it all the time. It's something that takes a little bit of an adjustment if you're not in that mindset but like you said, once it's done you're like wow, things are happening and it's working really well and I'm not doing it. I'm paying as long as money is coming in I can pay for it. That's helping me free up so I can do other things. Just to give people an example, for me personally like this podcast like I was doing everything in the beginning. I was doing all the editing. I was doing all of the transcripts. Well not even the transcripts, I wasn't even offering transcripts.
I was doing the show notes which were terrible because I was doing them myself. Then I went and I hired someone to take that off my plate and they do such a better job than I even… So much better and it was a pain for me to do it. I didn't enjoy it. I didn't want to do it. I was like I had to take out the garbage kind of thing. I'm like, I don't want to do that. It's garbage night again, I don't want to drag it out to the street. It's like the same idea, I didn't look forward to it and then almost held me back from wanting to do three shows a week like I'm doing now. And this is just like one example. Then we went to transcripts because I can find someone who can do transcripts and then that whole thing.
But now it's like a machine. It's like I record and the minute I'm done recording I send it up to Dropbox and it gets handed off. So it works really, really well. I get it, I understand the power of it now. I didn't because I was a hands on, I want to do everything myself kind of guy. So let's unpack kind of like I know you have like six steps, six hacks here to outsource effectively and I want to go through them talk a little bit about each of them but then give people actually a framework that they can start really deciding like what can I do to free up time but then also help me build my business.
[00:12:52] Nathan: So the framework is to get away from your computer, turn your phone off which is tougher even for me and just write down with you and your business partner. You and your wife, whatever it is a list of everything you do on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis. Put in order from easiest to hardest and then circle the three easiest things or the three things you hate the most. That's really your starting point and once you get better at hiring you can create that second list of maybe things you can't even do. Maybe it's Amazon PPC or graphic design or building a site. Stuff that you can't really teach someone else to do but you really need a high level person but if you're just started to hiring, focus on those easy tasks that you've done for two, three months. I always say my three month rule. I don't do anything longer than three months. Figure out those repetitive tasks that you can take off your plate that are easy to do.
[00:13:46] Scott: I think for people to sit down with a pad of paper I think it's huge. I don't think people talk about it enough because we got all this apps, these fancy things that we can use but I think it's important to do that it's to sit down and write this stuff up. The other thing is and you touched on it and I want to highlight it is there maybe things that you want to do but you can't do because either you don't know how to do it and or if you do know how to do it you don't have the time to do it. So like you said, maybe you know in your business, and I talk a lot about building the business but also like you can be working in your business or on your business and things like growth, like you should be focusing some of your time on growth but there's some things there that you might not be able to do.
Maybe you don't enjoy doing the pay-per-click stuff on Amazon. Maybe you don't enjoy it. So now you got to find someone or teach someone what you do every single day to monitor that. Whether you want to use a tool and then have someone monitor the tool like use Ignite so if you want to have someone do that then you would teach someone how to do that. Now, that's another hard part though for a lot of people it's like I got to take time away from what I'm doing and show people how I do it. How do you do that?
[00:14:54] Nathan: That takes us into the first secret. You have to treat hiring as an investment and you have to look at it that way. With investments, there comes things like protecting your investment or knowing how much you invest and then there's different parts of investing whether it's your time, your energy, your money and that's really the way that people go wrong. People look at hiring as the quick fix or something that's going to save their business or something that they are just terrified of that they want no part of but it's like any other part of your business or you're investing into. Whether you're buying a new computer, whether you're getting that new office, hiring is the same way and the first secret is really getting into that mentality that there's always going to be good investments, bad investments.
No one has all 100% hiring percentage in terms of success just like no one makes all their investments succeed. But you have to have that mentality to protect and look out at your investments.
[00:15:47] Scott: Yeah, agree 100%. We talked about like you got to identify your first task so it's like what is that task and maybe just start with one so you can learn that process. Would that be a good idea to maybe get one thing that you know that you can try to get off and then go through the process to see it actually works for you?
[00:16:05] Nathan: Absolutely and it all about tweaking and adjusting the process well. I always relate it to baseball, you focus on the process more than the result. At the end of that whole process if that person ends up leaving because of a personal reason or something happens focus on the process. What could you have done better in the interview and the setting expectations which we'll talk about. At the end of the day you can't control every little factor. There' always going to be outside things but you can go back and adjust and tweak the process and that's what you really have control over.
[00:16:36] Scott: It's like when you are thinking to yourself about like okay what can I identify or like what's on my plate you have to think about it like what are you doing right now. What is one thing that you said, man if I can just get that one thing done I would pay someone to do it. What is that one thing? Then from there, you have the next thing is like who is your perfect worker? So let's talk about that a little bit. Identifying the perfect worker is what, someone that we're going to clone ourselves and so maybe talk about that.
[00:17:08] Nathan: That's really the secret number two is if you don't know what you want, you're never going to find it and most of the time you're not looking for a clone of yourself. One of my reasons that my business partner Brian Connor work so well together is while we have the same goals, the same vision, the same value. We're totally different people. We're good and bad at the opposite things. When I try to hire someone for writing my blog for example, I want them to be a much better writer than I am. I want to be a better research than I am. Same thing on Amazon listings, maybe on the writing side or if you're running PPC maybe you want more analytical person.
Really figuring out what that perfect person looks like, but not just a skill set. Think about the schedule, the availability, are you actually hiring someone full time, if not what kind of commitment can they make to you? Do you need someone that can work every Saturday because that's going to change how you approach finding that person, what's your budget, US, non-US. The last thing you want to do is investing into someone only to run out of budget in a week and that was a total waste. So really getting down to the nitty gritty so you know what that perfect worker looks like so that when you come across them, then you're like boom, that's my guy and then you move forward.
[00:18:16] Scott: Okay. And then you talk a little bit about setting a budget but how do I know what that task is worth?
[00:18:22] Nathan: It's a great question. I spent a lot of time on this. If you actually go to FreeeUp.com and click pricing, you can see ballpark pricing for different skill sets. I like to break it down into three levels. So you got low level, mid level and expert level workers. The low level workers maybe they have experience but they are doers. They are followers. They are there to follow your system and processes. That would be a net $5 to $10 an hour range. Then you got those mid-level range people. They are more specialist. They are not there to consult with you, they are not there to really to follow your system, they are there to do one thing really well.
Maybe they are blog writers, maybe they are bookkeepers or graphic designers and that might be in that $10 to $30 range depending on US or non-US. Then you go the top notch experts. The $25 and up. Those are people that consult with you, they can create high level game plans, they can execute them, they can project manage, they can help create systems and process for those lower level people. A lot of people they are looking for the wrong thing. They are like, hey, I need someone to run my Facebook ads, let's hire a low level person but they have no idea how to run Facebook ads. That usually doesn't turn out very well. You have to know what category you're going into. It doesn't matter whether it's Amazon, eBay marketing, those same ballparks still usually apply.
[00:19:35] Scott: Yeah. Again, I think it's like you got to think about it for yourself it's like how much is your time worth. Some people that are bootstrapping are like every little penny counts. So right now might not be the time that I'm going to hire someone. I'm going to do everything myself but to me you're also learning what it's going to take to run that business. So when I'm looking at a certain task like I said for like you just said, it's something that to me what is worth my time? If for example, someone is bringing me product ideas I'm going to just give them the criteria that I would be looking at. It's kind of like mundane stuff, it's that's just going to be happening.
It's just things that I'm going to be going through. I'm going to be setting up my own filters, my own criteria. They are just going to be going through and saying all of these match your criteria. Here they are. Then I can sit down, I don't have to go through that entire process and I can just go through it and cherry pick the ones that I want to dig into a little bit deeper. Is that what you're talking about?
[00:20:32] Nathan: Yeah, even if you consider your hourly rate maybe not as high as someone who's three years into their business, you can still figure out where your focusing your time. Your focus should be on things that make you money that focus on expansion, marketing, sales, getting new suppliers, getting new products to sell. Maybe it's pushing more products with PPC or optimization. It should be high level stuff. Doing bookkeeping is a good example why you should have good control over your numbers inputting every single transaction is not a great use of your time. There's no expansion value there. So really focusing on taking those tasks off your plate and it usually starts off with social media posts or scheduling, book keeping, emails is a big time killer, stuff like that
[00:21:16] Scott: Again, stuff like those that you're doing that you know that you're like man, this isn't really helping the business grow. It's just like I'm putting off fires in a sense. So social media is like doing something that you need to do and you're posting it but maybe it's like you're creating the content but then someone's posting it for you or they are scheduling it or whatever. So those types of things is what you're talking about.
[00:21:37] Nathan: Exactly, that's a great place to start.
[00:21:40] Scott: Okay cool. Now, the third thing you have here interview to find the best. Talk a little bit about the interview process.
[00:21:49] Nathan: Yeah, that's what's very cool about this eight year scheduling, this eight year process that we've been building of hiring from the first hire all the way to the people we're letting into the FreeeUp network right now, we're constantly going back and improving the process. I break interviewing down into skill, attitude and communication. Because too many people they go into an interview just looking for that really talented person. That person with ten years of marketing experience but they don't focus on the other two things that the attitude and the communication and if you don't focus on all three a lot of times you end up with that bad experience. With attitude you want someone who's positive. We've all worked with someone who's a cancer. But then even more than that, you want someone who's really passionate about what they do.
I'm passionate about hiring, I'm passionate about being an entrepreneur. I don't really like bookkeeping. If I hire a bookkeeper they have to be as passionate about bookkeeping as I am about being an entrepreneur and those are really the type of people we look for when getting into the FreeUP network. You want to hire people that really love their work, love their job, love what they do. Then with communication, I don't care how talented you are, I don't care what your attitude is, if you can't communicate with me at the highest possible level, it's never going to work out. Yes, they have to speak the same language but it goes well beyond that. People that if their house is burning down you at least get a text message so you're not chasing someone across the Philippines or across the US.
Someone who can keep you up to date. Hit deadlines, estimate time properly and have a good productive meeting, where you leave there and you are actually on the same page. Those are the things that especially when you're hiring for something that you might not be a pro at, maybe you don't know development that well and you need to hire a developer, though attitude and the communication are huge because those end up being the most honest worthwhile people tier.
[00:23:37] Scott: I think a great example of that too is like if you hired a graphic designer they may be coming up with like new creative spins on the project that you set them off with but then they are like oh would be really cool if we did this and maybe you can do this over here or maybe we can have this color or maybe we can add this to bring it to life. You're getting in a creative mind now and that's where they love to be, while you're not. You just want the end result.
[00:24:02] Nathan: Exactly. People in business speak a different language than a lot of different people out there, that don't have the business background. You do want people that you can communicate with no matter what the backgrounds are.
[00:24:13] Scott: Yeah, that's a great point. Okay, moving on to the next one here on your list is setting expectations. Let's talk about that a little bit.
[00:24:20] Nathan: So this is where people go wrong in their hiring. They hire that really good person, maybe they vetted them for the attitude and the communication and then they just thrown them into the wolves. They hand them a project and they get going without laying out what the good and what the bad is. Remember a lot of times these are freelancers, these are contractors. They work for numerous clients and every client of theirs has a different set of expectations. A different set of rules of what's good, what's bad, what's approved, what's not approved. So spending that little extra time to get on the same page saves you a ton of time down the line. You want to make everything as black and white as possible. A good example of this is one of my pet peeves, is I get 1,000 Skype messages every day.
If someone messages me and they re like, “Hey, Nate,” and then they wait for my response before asking a question that would just drive me crazy if 1,000 people are doing that to me every day. But how would a new person working with me ever know that if I didn't tell them upfront. So I like to set expectations to make it really clear. I have a great document called the client expectations doc you can get on the FreeeUp blog where you can actually write your expectation on a piece of paper and hand it to them and get on the same page from day one asking them if they have any questions, answering them and really getting off on the right foot.
[00:25:34] Scott: I think setting expectations is a big one and I think you just telling them upfront this is what we expect and this is our culture or our business mindset or whatever, you're going to have people that are going to understand that right off the bat. If you don't tell them that, they don't know it and then if they do something you can't get upset with them because you didn't tell them. I think that's going to take a little bit of time to go through this process and figure out like when I was getting ready to hire someone for even a project or whatever I always have to go through these three or four things that I don't think I shouldn't have to so what do you do? You create something upfront that tells them listen, we don't need this, this and this.
They are not going to come to you with a thing that's going to annoy you in your case and then you already gave them the expectation of what you're looking for.
[00:26:20] Nathan: Yeah, and you can set very basic ones if you never hired before. Hey, if we have a meeting I expect you to be two minutes early. If you give me a due date I expect you to hit that, if we're communicating, I expect you to ask questions and don't just be a robot that says yes, even if you don't understand. Just setting those basic expectations will help you have a better experience.
[00:26:41] Scott: Again, it's all about relationships though too. It's like once you start, I mean you got to remember if you're doing this and you're maybe even giving them a test project to do or whatever it's something that you could have this long term relationship with so I look at everything that I do in business and in life just like everything that we do is really connecting us to other people that can potentially help us or help each other in some way and you just don't know. To me it's like, just having that good open communication and expectation is one of those, it's having like certain expectations and then letting people know like letting people know and letting them know ahead of time.
[00:27:20] Nathan: Yeah, and you nailed it and not to get too far of track but relationships are everything. Even if you have a bad experience with someone I have people that I'm still friends with who I fired years ago. Just not burning bridges, not to say that you have to be best friends with everyone in the world but there's a proper respectful way to go about it and if you can build those relationships you're going to have a better overall business.
[00:27:43] Scott: Absolutely. I agree. 100%. Moving on, we've set the expectations. Now, let's say we're going to hire someone, we're going to get them into our business, how do we integrate them into the business?
[00:27:58] Nathan: One of the things that people tend to do is they are like, okay you're finding products from me, here's a sheet, go do it, let me know when you're done. That person has no idea why they are doing it, what the goals are, how it helps or affects your business in any way. I like to take a step deeper. I introduce them into the different people that are my team that they might be working with. I tell them the company goals. One of the goals this year at FreeUp is to build up 10,000 hours in one week. If I hire a graphic designer to build an infographic they know what the goals of the company are and people might think that's silly but it actually motivates people to the extreme.
People want to feel like they are part of something and they want to feel like they have a purpose. It will make them stick with you longer even if you're hiring someone for a one time project you never know when you're going to go back to that person and the last thing you want to is hire a new person every time you need something done. It's good to build that rolodex and actually get people you can rely on. By keeping people involved, by setting goals ball, by introducing them into the other people you work with, you other business partners and letting them know what's what and giving them that almost orientation, you're going to have a lot more motivated workers and really at the end of the day motivation means more money or lower costs for you.
[00:29:12] Scott: Yeah, and I think also too I think even just letting them upfront that you're looking for someone to add to the team, it's kind of like you're saying like listen. We're doing this, this is what our mission is, this is what our goals are and we want you to be part of the team to help us get there and if you have a graphic designer or if you have someone who writes really good blog post, what they are doing they know drives the business and to them it's like you're a player on the team so if you do well, in your performance we have a good chance of winning the game if you will in a sense to where you can get that place that you want to go. So, I agree that's really important to keep people involved and also let them know that you're a part of the team. Not just you're doing a job for me, great, here is your pay, see you later. Have a great week.
I think that's important. I really do. The last thing you have here on the list is really setting up regular communication methods. I love that, I want to hear what is your strategy here for that because I think communication is everything. Some people say, meet every day, some people say every other day, some people say certain time limit you should be no more, no less. What's your thoughts on that?
[00:30:26] Nathan: So the biggest thing is just setting a communication expectation upfront. I mentioned that I don't want to work with robots. I want people that part of their job description is bringing feedback, bringing ideas to the table every day. Some of the best ideas that have made me the most money didn't necessarily come from me. They came from people in the team because I created an environment where they felt good about sharing their feedback and they didn't think that they were going to get shot down and that doesn't mean that I was going to implement their feedback instantly every single time but I would at least take the time to listen to it. By setting up that kind of atmosphere, that kind of communication, that kind of culture you're going to get a lot more out of people.
That makes it easier to have those meetings pretty consistently. I meet once a week every Monday morning to get on the same page and then I'll have specific team meetings depending on what's getting done and there are times where I'm like, “Hey, here's a two week project, go for it, talk to me then.” But just making sure that you can always check in with someone, setting the expectation for them to keep you updated so you know what's going on in your business as a start up when it's your baby, it's your kid and you want to know what's going on at every different point, the last thing you want to do is have to pull someone's teeth to get information out of the. You want that communication constantly flowing and it all starts from the top down. My business partner Connor and I, not only to our internal team we communicate down but we also communicate to 700+ freelancers in the FreeeUp marketplace.
Same thing with our Amazon business where when we know something, we're communicating it down and that leads it for other people communicating it back up as well.
[00:32:02] Scott: Yeah, it's like you have this chain in a sense but depending on what you're working on is going to determine who you're going to have a meeting with but then if you have other people that are being fed in a sense by what they are doing because if let's say you have a manager that's working in all of your graphics stuff but now they are managing two other graphics people, you don't have to necessarily have to have a meeting with those other people, not that you wouldn't want to every now and then but you can totally do it with the other person and then they are going to communicate it down and talk about exactly what needs to get done.
[00:32:36] Nathan: Exactly and what people don't realize is it's people at the bottom that really understand what's going on with your business. If you go into a restaurant that's not doing well, and you talk to the owner you're not going to get as much information as if you talk to the wait staff who's actually interacting with the clients or the customers on a day to day basis. The same thing applies to your business as you grow. You want to continue communicating down and figuring out how do you talk to those bottom people even if it's not every day.
[00:33:01] Scott: Yeah, it's like the show Undercover Boss. I don't know if you've ever seen that show.
[00:33:04] Nathan: Yeah, love that show.
[00:33:05] Scott: They go into the business disguised so they can understand the workplace, the people that are making it all happen. It's funny that a lot of these CEOs or a lot of these owners they have no idea to do the job that's actually the job that's making the money. It's crazy but it's so true. You learn so much and sometimes it's a little tweak to make things work better or make them feel appreciated. It's crazy that people think the other way. They think it all happens at the top and really it does, like you said it happens at the bottom. I know we're talking a little bit like we've already scaled this thing to where we've got 15/20 employees but it can be like with two or three different people. It might be one person that reports back to the other person, about like I said graphics.
It could be that simple but it's really important to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that you're listening and that you are also reachable and that stuff is all important and communications. To me it's what it's all about. It's what makes a marriage work. It's like if you have open communication, you guys know where you guys are, you got less problems. Air it out.
[00:34:12] Nathan: Exactly and you got to have that communication before you build the big family and that's really where we're at right now with a lot of new entrepreneurs. When you're adding those first two people from the team you got to set that communication standard so that as you add more and more people, you don't lose it down the line.
[00:34:27] Scott: Yeah, that's some great points. Couple questions. So let's just say for example I wanted to hire someone, typically like how many hours can I hire someone for? Like if I only have something that I think is going to be not even a one off thing but maybe it's just something I need occasionally. Like we talk graphics a lot of times. If I don't have enough work for that person, can I still hire someone?
[00:34:51] Nathan: Yeah, and that's one of the cool things when I was building FreeeUp. I really took everything I liked about all these different hiring platforms, everything that I hated and got rid of those. There's no minimums. You can hire someone for five hours a week, one hour a day whatever it is. It's first come, first served so they are welcome to get other clients to fill up their other hours both inside and outside FreeeUP but they were never taking those workers away from you. They are yours for those hours and if you hire someone for one time project and you don't talk to them for three months, they may or may not be available when you come back.
But the more realistic thing is to be like yes, I'm available but I need 48 hours to finish a project for my past client or whatever it is. So there are no minimums and it's very easy to scale your business up.
[00:35:37] Scott: Do you feel that like if you can get to that point, and again depending on how much you're paying and stuff but do you think that it's better then if you can figure out a time in your business to hire someone full time or at least give them a steady even part time and that way there they are dedicated to you?
[00:35:56] Nathan: Yeah, I'm a big fan of just diversifying. I have plenty of full time people but I also have part time people and I do it very strategically. I don't want to make anyone too irreplaceable and this is like a bonus secret. As you're building up, too many people fall into the trap, they find that one person they really like and they load them up with everything. And they train them for eight months. And what if that person gets sick or quits and gets another job and how do you ever replace that? It can set your business back. For me if you're hiring one full-time customer service person and I advise us, the clients all the time I'm like, “Why not just hire two part time people for 20 hours a week. They can cover for each other and you're a lot more protected down the lot.”
[00:36:33] Scott: Yeah, that's a great point. I found this with even friends of mine that are in the online space as we are and I had one of my friends who they had someone that was great and they did an awesome job and they were doing a lot of the work and they were communicating with some of their other VAs and stuff. Then that person decided they just wanted to go out and do their own thing. Now all of sudden you got to train someone that actually communicates with everyone that's down below them. So that's tricky too and so again I'm not saying you might not have two managers but you could but like you said, if you can diversify the tasks you're probably protected more for someone that says, “Hey you know what, I want to go out and do this thing on my own. I don't have time for you no more.”
It's okay you got someone else to cover until you get someone else trained. I think that's important. I think that's great.
[00:37:24] Nathan: Yeah, and it's within reason. It doesn't mean that instead of a 20 hour week person you hire a 20 people for an hour but you got to be smart as you build up your team.
[00:37:32] Scott: Absolutely. Then the other thing is too like, some people don't mind hiring in the Philippines and some people say, “I only want US based or I want someone in a certain country, whatever.” Have you found that it's easier for someone in the States to work with or does it just depend?
[00:37:56] Nathan: We through know preplanning, our marketplace ended up being about 40% Philippines, 40% US and 20% scattered around the world. For whatever reason, Filipinos tend to do a better in our process and make it through but I have clients that are hiring US people that love it and I have clients that are doing strictly Philippines. Honestly I'm a combination of both and I have a lot of clients that are a combination of both as well. It really depends more on the person than it does where they are from.
[00:38:23] Scott: Okay. That makes sense. I think myself personally I really don't care as long as like they meet all that criteria that we just went over. It's like as long as that all fits. Some people would say well they are from the Philippines, they won't have good English. That's not true. So I think it does depend but I wouldn't close my mind to hiring in different locations. The bottom line is we want the job done and we want it done right and we want them to also be a strong asset to our business. I think it's huge. Let's recap real quick and then I want to talk about FreeUp.
I want to talk about like why you decided to create this thing. Well I know why but I want you talk a little bit more about it and also the process. So number one, you talked about identifying your first task and taking it off your plate. So if you're just starting right now, you're listening to this and you're like, “I don't need one yet,” just go through the exercise and maybe you're not there yet but maybe you'll be there in six months from now. I would just do this or if you feel like you can't get anything done because you got this thing and that thing just go through this because you may uncover something that you may want to delegate.
The second thing was identifying the perfect worker and setting a budget. I think that's important.
The next one was interviewing to find the best. I think that's really important because you don't know until you interview someone. They may even be doing a test project to see how well you work together. Then setting expectations. Again, another great point because you want them to know upfront what you expect and then integrating them into your business. Allowing them to see what you are doing and your main goal, your vision for the business. Letting them in on that I think is key. Then the last thing was setting up regular communication methods. I think that is ultimately the best piece of advice because I think communication is everything.
You can't know what to fix if you don't know what is broke. So you got to be able to talk about it and that really does sum it up there for all of those different things when hiring. But definitely identify first what is that one thing that you can take off your plate right now that can help you grow your business. That's the big question.
[00:40:28] Scott: So with that all being said, and all of this great advice let's talk a little bit about, so if I wanted to come to FreeeUp and I wanted to hire someone, what's that process look like?
[00:40:42] Nathan: Back in the day I got sick of just going only on the Upworks, the OnlineJobs.PH, posting a job, getting hundreds of people to apply and having to interview them one by one and then even if I got someone that didn't work out and then they quit all that investment was out the window and I just start that entire process over again. I wanted a faster way. So at FreeeUp we get hundreds of applicants every week, we vet them for that skill, their attitude, their communication that we talked about, we take the top 1% and we let them in.
Then we make them available to clients first come, first served. So clients like it, it's free to sign up. There's no monthly fee. Any time we need a worker you put in a request, we fill that request within 24 hours. Usually faster with those pre-vetted workers. Then you can be with them, if you like them the hire button and you're good to get started.
If you don't like then you click reject and you put feedback on why we went wrong and we take that feedback and we get you someone else based on that feedback. Then the cool thing on the back end is we're very hands on to make sure you have a very good experience. I mentioned I get a lot of Skype messages. I have assistants that cover my email and Skype 24/7 and my calendar is right at the top of my website. The coolest part is at the top of my backend we're insured against turnover. If a worker quits against you for any reason, then we have incredibly low turnover but it is real life we cover all replacement costs and get you a new worker right away so that you know that you're taken care of.
So it saves you a ton of time on the front end and protects you on the backend.
[00:42:11] Scott: That's huge. That's really cool. Okay, and then let's say for example I hire someone. How do I know how much work they've done? I'll just take their word for it or is it per job. Am I saying that job should take two hours, maybe I don't know how long that job takes. How does that get tracked I guess?
[00:42:32] Nathan: Sure, we have time clock software that they punch in and punch out of. But the hours are between you and them and there's a few different ways they can go about it. You can come up with hours per week, it's 20 hours per week, it's an hour per day, whatever it is. And they will work that. Any hours that they work beyond that without your approval, you're not responsible for and you can just tell me or my team and we'll take care of it. The other thing is project based. If you have a project and you present it with them, they will give you two numbers. They will give you an estimated hours and a due date. Then it's up to you if you want to approve it or if not you can always get another estimate from a different worker.
You have a few different options on how you want to go about it depending on where you are at at your business.
[00:43:13] Scott: Okay, so if I'm going to have kind of a heads up by then. They are going to have a project thing go, “It's going to take probably X amount of time.” Or if I said, “Listen I want you to post four times a day on my social media. I'm going to basically have another VA maybe drag it up to a folder and all you're going to do is post it and go in and do all that stuff.” And they are going to say, “Well, it's going to take me a half hour a day or an hour a day,” or whatever and then if I'm okay with that, then I approve it and then we're good to go. Is that how it works?
[00:43:41] Nathan: Absolutely, and you can either even hire let's say an Amazon expert or a marketing expert to audit what you're doing maybe you hire them for an hour or two and then they give you different options, different game plans and work with you to come up with one that not only you can afford but one that makes sense for you. So there's a bunch of different ways you can go about it depending on what you're trying to do.
[00:44:01] Scott: Oh, okay. I like that too. So you can almost hire someone that can consult in a sense to where they are going to look at maybe it's your listings and they can give you some ideas of what they would to do to fix it and then in order for them to fix it you'd pay them, kind of thing.
[00:44:12] Nathan: Exactly. There are workers from $5 to $50 an hour even as few that are higher than that inside the marketplace. So no matter what your budget is, whether you're looking for a customer service rep in the Philippines or someone with ten years of Amazon experience, there's everything in between.
[00:44:30] Scott: What do you find, this will be my last little question here for you but what do you find most people and maybe it's all over the place but I'm just curious. What are most people hiring for? I guess maybe in our space, in the ecommerce space, in the Amazon world. Do you find like there are certain things that people are hiring things to be done?
[00:44:52] Nathan: Yeah. We're definitely all over the place. We fill a lot of different skill sets. Even today if I look at the request that came in they are all over the place. But if we just focusing on ecommerce and Amazon, customer service is something everyone wants to be taken no off their plate. That's pretty huge. Optimizing or writing Amazon listings. Anything with inventory or pricing control and PPC campaigns. We know how popular that has become recently whether it's Facebook ads, driving traffic externally or inside your Amazon Account. Those are definitely very popular.
[00:45:21] Scott: Cool. So if I went into their market place and I searched for a thing, would it show me people that have that skill set?
[00:45:27] Nathan: No, so the way it works is you login into your account, you click the “Request a worker” button. It asks you ten questions, so we know exactly what you want. It takes a minute. You select US, non-US or you don't care, your price point, how many hours a week you need, if you know it. It just asks you ten questions so we know what your perfect worker looks like. You submit the request and then we introduce to one of three options within 24 hours.
[00:45:50] Scott: Okay, cool. That's awesome. That's awesome. Basically I'm not having to look through and make my own decision. You guys have already vetted them. And if it's something that's more personal preference like the writers or the graphic designers which is a little harder to put a little into a worker request, we do have a list of portfolios if you prefer that. For your average job you're putting in a worker request.
[00:46:08] Scott: Awesome. This has been really good man. I think that a lot of people are going to get value from it just because to them, they might be thinking well I have no idea how to go out there and hire someone. If you go to Upwork you're kind of on your own to where you're like, yeah I'm seeing what other people had said like the review system but this is done a little bit differently. I like that and it opens up a lot of opportunities for people to focus on the areas that they want to focus on but then also even just spending a little bit of money to have a certain test on that could potentially grown their business. I love that. Any last little bits of advice for anyone that's thinking maybe they are ready or maybe they don't know where to start as far getting this stuff done. What would you say to them?
[00:46:53] Nathan: My advice is I'm here to help you along the way. I put my calendar right at the top of the FreeeUp Website for a reason. Any time you can book a time with me. I'd love to talk to you about your business, answer any questions you have and really point you in the right direction. Because that's what it's all about. What makes sense for one person might not make sense for another. We're really there to be fast, to be hands on, to make sure you have a good experience. We're not really interested in you hiring someone for two hours and then just being like, “Oh I got to go back to doing it myself.”
We want to make sure that it actually grows your business, frees up your time and then you have a good experience.
[00:47:25] Scott: That's awesome man. That's pretty crazy too. You have your calendar up there too so people just go ahead and book a time and a chat if they want to but that's awesome. So where would be the place that they would go if they want to even just look into hiring someone through your services?
[00:47:43] Nathan: Yeah, you're going to put a link in, anyone that signs up through the link it's a dollar off the first worker. We're also going to add a $25 credit for the first 25 people that sign up. And you can create an account, it's free, like I said there's no minimums, there's no monthly fee. At the very least you can keep it in your back pocket for when you're ready to hire. If you do have any questions you can always book that time with me. You can also check out the FreeeUp blog where we post a lot of great hiring content to really help you whether you really are at the beginning or are just been hiring for years. I look forward to working with you all out there and thank you so much for having me on.
[00:48:15] Scott: Yeah, no problem. What I'm going to do Nathan I'm going to create a pretty link so people can just go there at theamazingseller.com/freeup. That will be a link that will direct them over there and they can get that information. I'll also link it up in the show notes, but Nathan I want to thank you for coming on. This has been awesome. It's gotten me excited and I know the power of it but it always gets me even more excited to see just the world we live in, to be able to go out there and hire people remotely and build a mini team that can go out there and help grow your business and whatever you're doing. These are also skill sets too. Guys remember that when you're learning to do this, this can also go over to other things, other areas that you might be working in five years from now.
To me it's about building up a skill set to go out there and be able to build out a little team so this way here you can build your business whether it's here on Amazon or ecommerce or whether you're going to do it in another area of your entrepreneurship. We're not sure where we're going to be in five years but it's definitely a skill set that people should pay attention to. So Nathan I want to thank you for coming on man, it's been awesome.
[00:49:28] Nathan: Thank you so much. Have a good rest of the day. Happy holidays.
[00:49:31] Scott: All right, there you go. Hopefully you understand now that to hire someone it's not really that big of a deal because you're going to be doing it when you need it. I'm not here saying that you have to go out there and outsource like today. But I can almost guarantee that there's things in your business right now even if you're just starting that you could probably hire someone on an hourly basis even if they only worked five hours for you to do a task and probably get it done faster and better if you gave them the things to do or the thing that you wanted them to do, whether that's product research and you give them the criteria and you do the work of showing what you want and then they start pulling in all of the products that meet your criteria.
Then that might be something they can do. Or maybe it's customer service, maybe that's someone that's going to login once a day and they are go to go through your customer emails and they are going to respond to those people. Maybe that's what it is. Or maybe it's bookkeeping. Maybe you're at the stage now where you're at like you know what, I don't want to do my books because it's getting a little bit overwhelming or I just don't want to touch my books. I just don't like it. So whatever it is, think about what right now… is there something that is holding you back that make life a lot easier for you and also get you a little bit further ahead. I think that's how you have to think about it. Going through these six tips…
Again, I put them in the show notes, the amazigseller.com/467 or again if you want to hook with Nathan, if you want to check out his company FreeeUp, just go to theamazingseller.com/freeup and you will go to his site and you can go ahead and start looking at what it will take to get started. You can reach out to Nathan, you can reach out to his team, you get any answers that you need before you make a decision and it's something that when you're going out there and you have no idea where to start, this is a great service that he is providing because they are doing a lot of the background checks.
[00:51:37] Scott: They are vetting out all of the different virtual assistants or independent contractors. They are doing all that work for us. Of course if they don't workout, they don't work out and then you let Nathan know and the team knows and then from there they are going to probably not have in their service directory any more. So to me, they've done a lot of the work, most of the work. All you really need to do is like fill in the blanks and go through that process and then from there once you get one or two virtual assistants that are specifically doing one task I'm telling you it is so freeing. Take it from me, someone that is really a control guy where like to do a lot of my own stuff, I know how to do a lot of stuff but it's not really my best interest to do it all.
I'm talking all the way back when I was in the contracting days, when I was hiring people to do work for our company I had a tough time giving them my tool belt and saying, “Here, go do this job,” because I wanted to do it my certain way even though they were doing just a good a job, just a different way and they were probably doing it better but I had my own way. Until I got out of my own way, it's when I started to see growth in all of the businesses that I'm operating. I mean, once more current right now are the new brand, we have people that are helping us in that process, it's making it grow faster. Then the Amazing Seller Podcast. I started this thing with just myself writing my own show notes, doing my own transcripts, all of that stuff.
Then I said, you know what, in order to be able to give more to the community I need to give more of myself and not really doing the back end stuff or the writing of the show notes because all you're really doing is listening to the recording and then you're doing a summary of it. Well, someone else can do that. I don't have to do that. Until I got out of my own way, that's when I started to see grown and again, it's something that I still struggle with. We're talking about even stuff done around the house.
[00:53:36] Scott: Me and my father, we get together and we're doing a project look out because he's got his way, and I've got my way. I don't know if you guys have someone in your life that's like that or they'll start telling you a certain way to do it or you'll… It's hard but I can almost guarantee that if I walked away and just let him do it or vice versa, the job is going to get done and probably going to get done just as good if not better depending on who's the strongest at that. Just wanted again to remind you, if you want any more information about this, head over to theamazingseller.com/freeup or you can go to the show notes as well with these six tips at theamazingseller.com/467 and all of the resources will be found there.
Just know that depending on where you are, you need to ask yourself these questions. Go through tip number one here that he gave you is figure out and identify if there's one area right now that you could free up some of your time.
Guys, that is going to wrap up this episode. Remember as always I'm here for you, I believe in you and I am rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
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