An Interview with Nathan Hirsch, CEO of FreeUp.com - Freelancer Masterclass
An Interview with Nathan Hirsch, CEO of FreeUp.com

Nathan Hirsch is an entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and eCommerce. He is 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 has sold over $30 million online and regularly appears on leading business podcasts around the world.


Transcript

Nathan Hirsch is an entrepreneur and an expert in remote hiring and e-commerce. He is a co-founder and CEO of FreeeUp.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted freelancers. He regularly appears on leading business podcasts from all over the world.  Now, he can also add a freelancer school to his repertoire.

Matt: I read an article about you on Thrive Global, where you mentioned you are an introvert, and I wanted to ask you because a lot of freelancers are introverts, do you think there’s an advantage to being an introvert and an entrepreneur?

Nathan:  If you see me on podcasts or talking on stage, it seems like I’m the most outgoing person. But bottom line, I don’t get energy from talking to other people. By the time I’m done at a conference, I’m done with the podcast; I’m tired. I need some time to refresh and rejuvenate. I think it helps freelancers, as long as they can do make the sales call and interviews, but not in a socially awkward way that would turn off clients.

There’s some benefit in blocking everything else out and focus on what you want to do. I feel like being an introvert allows you to do that work. I know many extroverts who are talented sales people, and they’re super outgoing. They want to be around other people at all times, and they’re not able to take a step back and do things on their own, which is part of being an entrepreneur.

Matt: At what point did you decide you wanted to work for yourself?

Nathan: My parents are both teachers. Growing up, I got into the mentality that I was going to go to school, get a real job work for 30 years, retire and that’s what they do. I mean, they’re retired now they’re traveling the world. They’re living life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s always not what I wanted.

On my internships, I was working 40-50 hours a week, where I learned marketing, customer service and business. I also learned I just hated working for other people. I knew I was going to be miserable in any job that required me to report to someone else.

I did everything possible to avoid having to get a real job when I graduated. I started at textbook business and I created a little referral program. I was competing with my school bookstore. And I eventually got a cease and desist letter from my college. So that was my first glimpse into being an entrepreneur and I was addicted from there.

I had sold some books on Amazon, and I thought it was so cool. I started experimenting with outdoor products, home goods, video games, computers, and other products. I failed several times and the only thing I get to sell was books.

I kept looking until finally, I came across the baby product industry. I started dropshipping baby products on Amazon. I got in at a great time; my business started scaling. At age 20, I’m selling millions of dollars of baby products on Amazon.

I had a tough decision to make. I have this degree behind me that I worked hard to finish. And then I have this business that was growing and doing well. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.

I called with my aunt, who’s an entrepreneur, and she told me all the benefits and that I should follow it. I went the entrepreneurial route and never looked back.

Matt: What were your challenges when you’re first starting out being an entrepreneur? What tips can you give our audience that maybe they can avoid doing?

Nathan: Most of my challenges were around hiring, which is why I built the FreeUp marketplace, to begin with. I was 21 at that time; I knew nothing about recruitment. I knew nothing about management or leadership.  I quickly gave up hiring people in person.

I went to the remote hiring world like Upwork the Fiverr, and it was okay. I found some people that were still with me today. But I always wanted something better, something faster. So I built my own platform FreeeUp to address those concerns. But the biggest lesson was you can’t just hire people for skill. Many times, I hired people that had excellent references, impressive resume, five-star reviews, years of experience, and all those stuff.

I realized that skill is just one part of the equation. Now, we don’t care if they’re a 10 out of 10, or 5 out of 10. What we care about is if the applicant is honest about what they can and cannot do and if he’s pricing himself accordingly.

Attitude and communication are a big part as well. You want people that are passionate about what they do. You want people who don’t get aggressive when something doesn’t go their way and those who can take feedback without taking it personally.

Communication is everything. If I hire you and you have a great attitude and a great skill set, and you and I can communicate, nothing else really matters. Spending time finding people who can communicate at a high level is very important.

Matt: Tell me a little bit about FreeUp, its capabilities, and how it differs from other platforms.

Nathan: FreeUp gets thousands of applicants every week for different positions. We only get the top 1% to fill-up various job openings. For clients, they create an account in seconds; they put in a request to hire someone, they don’t have to browse, they don’t have to go through 50 people, we fill that request within a business day with one person. If they want more, we will give them more. Then they can quickly interview them and get started. It saves them so much time.

We have 24/7 support for both the client and freelancer in case they have an issue. We have a no turnover guarantee; people on our platform rarely quit. But if they do, we cover replacement costs and get them a new person right away.

Matt: So why do you cap it off at $100 an hour?

Nathan: There’s not a cap; the freelancers set their rates. When we started FreeUp, we originally started with VA with $5 to $25 ballpark range, and then we went from $5 and $50, and so on.  We’re inching up that ballpark, but we got freelance that charge more than $100 bucks an hour, you can charge fixed prices. We don’t limit that or set their rates in any way.

Matt: You certainly know a lot of different freelancers. Can you give our freelance audience some tips on how they can scale faster than other freelancers?

Nathan: As a freelancer, you have to look at yourself as a business. If you’re a business, let’s say you’re a graphic designer, you’re not just doing graphic design, you have to do the sales and marketing. You got to look at yourself as all parts of the business and be working on all parts of the business every day. Focus on the system, focus on those processes, and focus on the big picture. I see so many freelancers that they get into an argument with a client for $25. Instead of just making it right and moving on and continuing to work with that client and making more money or getting referrals from that client, they blow up the relationship for no reason.

You have to be customer-centric focused; you have to understand that not every client is going to be rainbows and butterflies. It’s not how real life works. But you have to be the bigger person, the bigger man, the bigger woman, the person who resolves things quickly and doesn’t let things dry out and escalated. To me, if you’re doing those things, you’re going to have way more success. The freelancer who’s only focused on graphic design, who can’t solve issues, who can only work with really good clients, this person can only go so far.

Matt: Is it realistic for a freelancer to work for eight hours a day and spend extra time for prospecting?

Nathan: Definitely. And I would even go a step further as you grow.

Matt: Do you remember what your first hire was? What position?

Nathan: At 20, I know nothing about hiring. I post a job on Facebook. My classmate in business law shoots me a message saying that he needs a job. I don’t even interview him, but he ends up being a fantastic hire. He’s hard-working. He’s smart. He makes my job easier. Today, he’s my business partner in FreeeUp. We’ve been working together for more than a decade.

Matt: Do you think there’s any correlation between that luck you got in your first hire and the reason why you started FreeeUp and the whole concept behind not hiring for particular skills? Is there any correlation there? Maybe subconsciously?

Nathan: I have some amazing hires, and my team builds me 1200 hours a week. I mean, I couldn’t work 400 hours a week even if I wanted to. One thing that I realized after making that hire is how good it makes you look when you surround yourself with a player like you.  For me, that was the main point of FreeeUp, to surround people with players at all times so that they can pursue their business, their dreams, their passion, whatever that is.

Matt: For all these freelancers listening, can you introduce more what FreeUp.com can do for them?

Nathan: FreeUp.com has many vacancies for different jobs, be it as a VA, digital marketing, real estate agents, and other marketing positions. We have a wide range of clients, including software companies, real estate, e-commerce, and everything else. If you’re a skilled graphic designer, writer, Amazon expert, whatever it is, we have clients for you on our platform. The best part is, you can set your rates and decide whether you want a fixed or hourly price.

Matt: Where else can our listeners find you besides that FreeeUp calm?

Nathan: You can follow me on social media channels, realnatehirsch on Instagram and Twitter. I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Facebook, I’m probably one of the easiest people to contact, but if you’re looking to offer services, I stay away from that team. I let them do their job. They are awesome. We call them our freelancing success team and you can apply right on the website or email us freelancers@FreeUp.com.

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