Hiring is not the easiest thing to do in the entrepreneur world, but it’s also the most important task an entrepreneur eventually must do if they want their business to grow.

Nathan Hirsch knows this all too well. At first he wasn’t sold on the idea of hiring someone but when his first busy season came and led him to work 10-12 hour workdays all by himself, he knew he had to find someone and help him run his business.

After learning from multiple bad hiring decisions, FreeeUp was born.

FreeeUp is a service that provides entrepreneurs access to vetted freelancers from around the world. They do the screening and pre-interviewing, and claims to let only the “top 1%” into the FreeeUp platform. Entrepreneurs can just submit a request and FreeeUp matches them with a vetted freelancer/VA/agency within a business day.

Some conversation points:

  • How Nathan’s remote worker quit on him during his first day of vacation
  • The importance of hiring people around your strengths and weaknesses
  • The pitfall of interviewing based on skill and the importance of personality and work ethic
  • Setting expectations and establishing a feedback loop
  • The dangers low-balling freelancers
  • The different levels of freelancers and how FreeeUp vets them

Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long before making your first hire. If you’re looking to hire now, Nathan was kind enough to provide EcomCrew listeners with a $50 credit on the platform. Just use the code ECOMCREW when signing up.

Resources mentioned:

5 Minute Pitch
EcomCrew Premium
Our Philippines team

Thanks for listening! Until the next one, happy selling.

 

Full Audio Transcript

Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 229 of the EcomCrew Podcast, just keep on clicking by; it’s been an awesome ride so far. So glad to have you guys, especially the ones that have been around since episode one. We’re 229 episodes into this creation that has become EcomCrew and it’s been an awesome ride. So, today we have Nathan from FreeeUp on the show. FreeeUp is an awesome platform to find contractors or people to help in your business, whether it’s on a single use basis, part time or even full time, something that I’m really passionate about.

If it wasn’t for our team, we would be nowhere near where we are at. We have almost 15 people now in our organization. And if it wasn’t for them, like I said, we just would be nowhere near where we’re at. And I think that one of the things that people make a mistake of is not investing in people sooner. They definitely help get you to the next level. It’s a really important component of that. So, we’re going to be talking to Nathan strategies, how to hire and also how to use that platform for doing that. And also I want to thank Nathan again, we mentioned it when I’m talking to him but they were also a sponsor of Five Minute Pitch. I want to thank him again for doing that.

If you guys haven’t checked out Five Minute Pitch, I encourage you to do so. It’s kind of a cross between Shark Tank and The Pitch and maybe The Profit, a little bit of elements of all of these different things rolled into one. It’s exclusively on YouTube. So we did film it and it is on YouTube and we’ve had really positive comments about it so far. I think you guys will enjoy it. So, you can go over to FiveMinutePitch.com, both the number and the word spelled out, we have both of those, or go over to our website, or you can just search for it on YouTube, Five Minute Pitch. I think you guys will love it.

One more thing I do want to mention just before heading into the introduction here and getting on with this with Nathan is that EcomCrew Premium is opening next week on Monday. There’s been a lot more line I would say of people that are interested in doing it. Every time we launch, we have more and more people interested which is very humbling. It’s been awesome watching that community continue to grow. We now have hundreds of people over there on EcomCrew Premium and we’re excited to do our next launch.

And we do it once every couple of months when Dave and I are making sure that we’re in the office and all hands on deck to help with all the influx of new people because the most questions come in when we do open. So, you can check that out next week. I just want to give you a heads up if you’re interested, be looking out for the emails and things of that nature that are going to be coming out and we’ll also mention it on the podcast next week. All right, so let’s get into this episode with Nathan from FreeeUp. Hope you guys enjoy it. Here we go.

Mike: Hey Nathan, welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast man.

Nathan: Mike, thanks for having me.

Mike: Yeah, no worries. Before we get started, there’s two things I wanted to do real quick. First of all, I wanted to thank you for being a sponsor on Five Minute Pitch. We’re super excited to have you over there. And that’s how we met which is awesome, because I think you guys have a great product. And we’ll talk a little bit about that here in a little bit. But you have a platform basically, that allows people to interface with freelancers and freelancers can kind of post their profiles and stuff there and then people that are looking to hire them can do that.

And like I said, we’ll do that in a little bit. But I also always like to start with a little bit of background on people. So, if you’re interested at all in in hiring people, part time, or even full time for your online business, definitely stay tuned for this. But it’s always interesting, like I said, to start with how you came to be in this in this space that you’re in right now because everyone kind of gets there in a different way.

Nathan: Yeah, it’s been a fun journey. I mean, I started back in 2000. I was a broke college kid looking for extra side money. I had had some summer jobs, summer internships, and it kind of gave me a glimpse into the what life was like after college, working for other people, working for different companies out there. And I knew that I wouldn’t like that. And I kind of looked at college as a ticking clock. I had four years to figure out how to start a business. And if I didn’t figure it out, I was going to go into the real world.

So, I started buying and selling people’s textbooks, competing against my school bookstore, created a little referral program. Before I knew it, there were lines out the door of people trying to sell me their books, to the point where I actually got a cease and desist letter from my college to knock it off. And that was my first glimpse into being an entrepreneur. So we’re in 2008, no one really knows what Amazon is. They’re pretty much just a bookstore, there’s no gurus, there’s no courses, there’s no EcomCrew Podcast, and I start selling books on Amazon. And I thought it was so cool. I could have this store that was open 24/7 and there are people always shopping, and I just had to figure out what to sell. I knew I couldn’t sell books forever. I was going to graduate at some point.

So, I started experimenting with all the things that a typical guy is into in college, sports equipment, computers, video games, and I just failed over and over and over. The only thing I could get to sell were these books. And it wasn’t until I branched out of my comfort zone, and found the baby product industry that my Amazon business really took off. So, if you can imagine me as a 20 year old single college guy selling millions of dollars of products on Amazon, that was me. And I really got into drop shipping before it was even called drop shipping. I was doing it two to three years before I even heard the word drop shipping.

I didn’t have a warehouse; I didn’t have a lot of money to buy stuff up front. So, I started building relationships with different manufacturers or first distributors and then I went around directly to the manufacturers. And the manufacturers didn’t know what Amazon was either. To them it was another great sales channel. I would handle the customer support and everything that goes on, on Amazon, and all they had to do was make the product and ship it. So it was a great relationship. So, I was growing that business and it was time for me to pay taxes for the first time in my life.

And I meet with an accountant. And the first thing he says to me is, when are you going to hire your first person? And I kind of looked at him like, why would I do that? That’s money out of my pocket. They’re not going to do as good job as I am. They’re going to steal my ideas. They’re going to hurt my business, endless excuses that every entrepreneur has. And he pretty much looked at me and just laughed. And he said, you’re going to learn this lesson on your own. Well, sure enough, I go to my first busy season. I don’t know what busy season is, and I just get destroyed. I’m working 20 hours a day, answering every email, filling every order, somehow get through to January, and I think to myself, I can never let this happen again. So I need to start hiring people.

So I’m in college, I post a job on Facebook, someone replies, I barely interview them, hire him. He’s fantastic. He’s a hard worker. He knows the business well, he learns it. I end up making him my business partner a few years later, hit the ground running right from the beginning. So, I think man, hiring is easy, you post a job on Facebook, someone shows up and it makes your job easier, you make more money. And I proceed to make bad hire after bad hire after bad hire.

And I quickly learned how unreliable hiring college kids is or was. I was 21, no 30 year old expert wanted to work for me anyway. So, I got thrown into the remote hiring world, the Upworks, the Fiverrs, got pretty good at it, hired some really talented people. But I noticed all my time went from growing my Amazon business to interview after interview after interview. And that’s really where I got the concept for FreeeUp, which we can talk about a little later.

Mike: Got you. And when did you end up starting FreeeUp?

Nathan: 2015, the end of 2015 beginning of 2016.

Mike: Got you. So it’s been like, three years or so since you started?

Nathan: Yeah.

Mike: Cool. So as you said, we’re going to get into that in a little bit. But we were talking about like always on the EcomCrew podcast, we like to add value to our audience. No one wants to sit here and listen to a 30 minute ad. Even though this isn’t an ad, you’re not paying to be on the podcast. I just thought it was a cool service and wanted to get you on regardless. But let’s talk about some things we can talk about as far as value. We talked before we hit record here; there were four key things. Things you can hire for, with like a remote team, your five step hiring process, which I’m excited to talk about as well, mistakes to avoid and we can commiserate with each other on things that we both on mistakes of waiting there.

And just the different levels of people you’d be looking for because obviously, everything you’re hiring for is going to be more niche. I think it should be more niche specific and we’ll talk about that. And people will be at different levels to that. So, I think the best place to start because the first place to think is like, if I was going to hire someone, what the heck would I even get them to do? And I’m way past that at this point with like 11 full time remote employees. But for people out there that are still kind of scratching their head, let’s go over a list of your top five or 10 or whatever you have there, things that people can do for you as a remote employee, or sorry, a freelancer.

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, you take the typical Amazon seller, they’re not going to be good at everything. Maybe they’re really good at sourcing, or they’re really good at writing listings, or they’re great at PPC. And there’s just so much out there that you need to do when you’re running an Amazon business. So, the most — and we get lots of requests all over the place. But for Amazon sellers, I mean graphic design is a big one that the average Amazon seller is not a good graphic designer, writing listings and staying up to date on what’s working and what’s not working.

Running PPC campaigns is a big one; I know there’s plenty of software out there. But at some point, hiring someone or even an agency to take that over is a great idea. Video editing, we know how much that that can improve your listing on Amazon having a really good product video. And then there’s sourcing. And there’s so many different kinds from wholesale, to having reps in China, to having even an expert that can consult you along the process and help with a product launch. Those are probably the most things that I see from a typical Amazon seller. But there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff too like the bookkeeping that you have to do every year, and hiring a virtual assistant just for the day to day operations and customer service. So, there’s an endless list of things you can hire for your Amazon business. But those five to seven that I mentioned is a good place to start.

Mike: Yeah, it was seven, I was writing them down and keeping track. And I can tell you that of those seven things, we have outsourced all the one of those. So, we still do the sourcing component ourselves but all the other parts you mentioned, we have a remote team of people working on. And I can tell you firsthand, I can look back at the time that we started doing this to now, a clear line in the sand of how much better our business got and how much quicker we started growing by having someone else do this. And the reality is that in all the things that you mentioned there, someone who I’m hiring is going to be better at than I am. I’m awful graphic design. So, I look back at our original listings that I was creating and the imagery that I thought was good compared to what a professional graphic designer is creating for us now, it’s night and day. And PPC, I feel like I’m good at it but I also don’t like doing tedious stuff.

So, I’m good at it for a short amount of time and then I lose track of it and next thing I know, I wasted $10,000 on PPC and bookkeeping. Same thing, if it wasn’t for having a bookkeeper, I wouldn’t do accounting, which means I wouldn’t know my numbers. And I would you’ll get to tax time I realize that I have a year’s worth of accounting to recreate and it would be a nightmare. So, I think that the reality is that the money that you spend, you will make back exponentially and you’ll have a better business and you’ll be happier as an entrepreneur along the way. It’s like one of these rare win-win-win scenarios along the way here.

Nathan: Yeah, and I’m glad you said that. I mean, you mentioned that you focus on sourcing and you found that your core competency is sourcing. And other people might hear that and they say, oh, I should be sourcing for my Amazon business. And that’s not necessarily the case. I work with a lot of sellers that they might be great at listing, and that’s what they want to do. And they don’t hire any listers because they want to be in charge of all the content and they hire someone else to do the sourcing. So, before you do anything and you figure out where to hire for it, you want to figure out what are you the best at. And we all want to get to the point in the business where you’re doing nothing and it runs on autopilot and everything works without you. But a more realistic first step is you figure out what you’re really good at and hire around that.

Mike: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s great advice. So let’s say you’ve decided that graphic design is a thing that you want to hire for, like just use that as an example. And again, I think unless you happen to be a graphic designer by trade, you’re going to find that by hiring a graphic design, you’re going to be way better off. You’re going to have better imagery, which is going to help your listing convert better, which over time is going to have you rank higher, which is going to increase your sales and again, exponentially pay for that graphic designer. This is something again I’m just very passionate about because this is something we talk about all the time on EcomCrew this specific thing. So, once you’ve identified this is who I want to hire, you mentioned you have like this five step hiring process. Let’s kind of walk through how you would go about doing that.

Nathan: Yeah, so step one is to really figure out how much you’re going to invest in your business and what you’re going to invest that with. So, I always say, look at your bottom line, how much are you making every month, and then figure out a percentage. And if you want to be really aggressive, you can maybe be in that 35 to 50 or 60% that you’re reinvesting and hiring people. If you want to be more conservative, maybe you’re doing a part time or you have a family and you want to take more money out of the business, maybe you’re in that 10 to 30%. But once you figure out that number, next you want to figure out what you want to hire for.

So, I always say there’s two lists. The first list is everything you do on a day to day, week to week, or month to month basis. And the purpose of this list is to figure out how you get hours in your day back. So, if you create that list, and you start chipping away from easiest going down to hardest, you can figure out how to free up that time. So, instead of doing the tedious tasks, you can focus on the expansion and getting more products, selling more, getting off Amazon, whatever it is. The flip side and an activity that I do with my business partner Connor is we identify each other’s weaknesses, which we kind of talked about before. So, a list of everything you are not good at and you’re going to hire specialists and experts to quickly turn those weaknesses into strengths. So that’s step one, figure out what you need to hire for.

Step two is identifying what that perfect person looks like because if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re going to really struggle to find it. It might be a full time employee in the office, it might be a freelancer; it might be a full time VA, a part time VA, what’s your price point? What kind of attitude? What kind of person are you to work with? I know I talk fast, I’m direct, I tend not to work with people that are necessarily warm and fuzzy and go at a slower pace. So, all that stuff is important to really imagine what your perfect person looks like.

Step three is pick a platform or start recruiting and interview. And I always tell people don’t just interview on skill. I don’t know about you Mike, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hired someone with a five star review or a great resume and it’s blown up in my face down the line.

Mike: Yeah, just real quick on that, I mean, we’ve actually almost moved away completely from hiring on skill. I mean, obviously, there’s some positions that require it like a graphic designer, we’re kind of using that as an example, maybe like a programmer. But the reality is, is that personality I think is way more important and work ethic and how they’re going to fit in the team. If they’re smart, they can learn the stuff if they’re driven. You can teach someone PPC, you can teach someone how to do customer service.

I mean, obviously, again, there’s some — I don’t know that you want a bookkeeper who’s never opened up QuickBooks. So there’s definitely some line to that. But I think for the most part, we’ve kind of moved to this personality, how they work with the team, are they reliable, do they have good references? Are they going to gel with us? And we’ll teach them the rest has worked out better for us.

Nathan: Yeah, completely agree. And what I was going to say is we kind of look at it as a trifecta, it’s skill, attitude, and communication. And with skill, we don’t necessarily need someone to be a 10 out of 10, they can be a five out of 10 or a three out of 10, as long as they’re honest about what they can and cannot do and they’re priced accordingly. For attitude, you want someone who’s passionate, someone who’s not just in it for the paycheck at the end of the week. If you hate bookkeeping as an e-commerce owner which I do, and you hire a bookkeeper, they should love bookkeeping as much as you love being an entrepreneur, people that don’t get aggressive the second that something doesn’t go their way or can’t take feedback without taking it personally. That’s what we look for in attitude.

And communication, we’ve all heard the horror stories of freelancers disappearing mid project or not communicating when they have an emergency. We want people who can respond within a business day and let us know if something is going wrong and hit their due dates and estimates. So it’s really that trifecta. It’s very rare that you hire someone that has a great skill, a great attitude, great communication and a month later you say, man, they had all three, but they were a terrible hire. That usually doesn’t happen. So that’s step three. We’ve identified what we want to take off our plate, we’ve identified what are perfect person looks like, we’ve interviewed for skill, attitude, communication, we’ve made the hire.

And step four is the place that everyone messes up in that setting expectations right from the beginning. A lot of people, they’ll hire someone, they’ll hit the ground rolling right away. And you have to remember when you’re hiring virtual assistants and freelancers, they’re working for different clients, they’ve worked for lots in the past, they might be working for lots right now. And every client has their own understanding of what’s good, what’s bad, what’s right, what’s wrong, pet peeves, whatever it is. So, spending that extra time at the beginning to just get 100% on the same page in writing, not a phone call that turns into a he said, she said down the line to me is incredibly important. I don’t know if you have anything to add there Mike, before I go to step five.

Mike: Yeah, I mean this is almost like in the mistakes to avoid category, which we’ll talk about here shortly but certainly made this mistake. I think for whatever reason, I don’t think I’m alone here, when you hire a remote VA, or let’s just say it’s a VA is the title, we tend to think that they’re going to be Superman or Superwoman and they can do every single thing without you giving them any direction, and then you’re mad when they can’t figure out how to do it. I don’t know what it is about this; I’ve talked to lots of people about it. When I first hired my original Vas, I kind of had this concept that they would just kind of get it without a lot of expectation setting and communication on our part. And so, I think that’s more in the mistakes I’ve made area. But yeah, that’s what I would add to that, because I’ve definitely been there before.

Nathan: Absolutely. And let’s say you’ve set the expectations and now you have the person working. For me, step five is that feedback loop. You want to provide feedback. If someone is optimizing 20 of your listings, have them do one listing and give them feedback, give them a chance to adjust and tweak on the feedback, especially when you’re dealing with the creative side, the video editors, the graphic designers that need to adjust their style to fit what you like. So, don’t forget about the feedback.

And the feedback goes both ways. Some of the best ideas, some of the best feedback that’s made me hundreds of thousands of dollars or saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars have come from other people. And that’s because I created a culture where I could give feedback and they took it positively. They could give me feedback as an owner, as a boss, about my business, about my leadership, whatever it is, and we’re all on the same page. We’re all collaborating together to get to that end goal. So, that’s my five step hiring process control.

Mike: Got you. Yeah, it’s definitely really good. We’ve learned about a little bit differently, just because we have an office over in the Philippines and we’re hiring full time people. So we’re a little bit in a different phase of our business. So, our hiring process is not as applicable and we’ve talked about that on other episodes of the podcast, which we can link to if that’s more your speed. But I think the types of people that are in your platform are more, at least initially would be part time and I think that this applies to that type of a process more than a full time person, although, I think you do have full time people as well on the platform, is that correct?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, we have virtual assistants, freelancers and agencies. When you think of the virtual assistant, you think if someone in the Philippines. I mean we have clients who will hire 10 full time customer service reps in the Philippines; they’ve had the same people for three years. And other people will hire a graphic designer and go to them for projects or maybe they move up to 20 hours a week, and that person has other clients. And then you’ve got agencies that have lots of different clients. So, it just kind of depends on what level you’re looking to hire and exactly what you’re trying do.

Mike: Got you, makes a lot of sense. Okay, so moving on to the other stuff here that we talked about towards the top of the show, mistakes to avoid. Let’s get into those because I think that between the two of us, we probably can help people not make the same mistakes that we’ve made and cost themselves a bunch of time and money and aggravation.

Nathan: Yeah, my number one mistake and I learned this the hard way is not to lowball people. We’ve all kind of heard the expression like you get what you pay for and it’s kind of true. I mean, you can get some really good deals out there, very affordable people and especially if you’re not investing a ton of time into them, maybe hiring cheap is good. I know, for lead generation, I use lead generation to land manufacturers, to get on podcasts and different things like that. And I’ll hire people cheap, because it doesn’t take me very long to teach them my A, B, C, D lead generation process and if they leave, it’s not the end of the world. Where the issue comes in is if you’re hiring someone cheap, and let’s say someone wants eight bucks an hour and you offer them six, they might need that job right then and there and they accept that offer.

And you put not just the money which you can get back but your time which you can’t into someone. The second they get offered what they feel like they’re worth is they’re going to be out the door. And I mean, I have a friend who was an accountant and he wanted a raise $5,000 and his company didn’t give it to him. So what did he do? He founded another company and do you think it costs the company a lot more than $5,000 to replace him. So that whole hiring cheap and low balling mentality, you have to know what you’re getting into if you’re going to go down that route.

Mike: Yeah, and these are people, you’re low balling them for food on the table, and expenses and stuff like this and their quality of life and then you’re expecting them to give just as much effort back in return. That’s not realistic. That’s not how life works. So, I think the better you pay them and compensate them fairly for what they’re doing, you’re going to get way better results. And in the long run, as you were saying in that accounting example, it costs a fortune for a company to go out and rehire.

I mean, it probably cost $5,000 just to go find the person by time you pay for ads and your time to interview. It doesn’t even come close to the training process and having to get them back up to speed again, and the salary they’re making all that time while you’re training them, I mean, it’s probably in that example, more like 25 to $50,000 of cost and you could have just paid them $5,000, and kept the happy employee that was already there.

Nathan: Yeah, completely agree. And off of that, I mean, Mistake number two is when you do find someone that you work well with that and that you like, and you’ve invested time into, make sure you do everything possible to keep them. There’s always going to be situations outside of your control, if they have a health issue, or something happens in their family, or they get some amazing job offer.

But focus on what you can control. Are you asking them if they enjoy their job? Are you making sure they’re happy with their pay? Are you giving them bonuses? Are you showing them the goals of the business and making them feel included? Do everything that you can to keep people around, and if you create that environment, it will really help you as a business. You kind of touched on it before, turnover is incredibly expensive. And for startups, it can be a killer; it can set you back six months.

Mike: Yeah, or more. I mean, I think that they are really are the employee, and the [inaudible 00:24:14] was closer to being a startup from the day that you started, the more important those employees are because if you think about compounding interest and the power of time and et cetera, if you’re spending all your early days bogged down with these employee issues, you’re just not focusing on growth and the things that really matter to your business.

Nathan: A hundred percent. Yeah, my next to a little bit different my next mistake. So, back in the day, I thought it’d be great to just get this manager the day I called it. And I was kind of stressed out. I had a lot of stuff going on. So I said, hey, I found this guy that I really like. Let’s teach him how to do everything. So, I taught him listing and customer service and repricing, this was before repricing software. And I spent, who knows, three, four, five, six months training him and it was great at the end. I mean, I could sleep better at night, the business was running without me. So, it’s time for me to take my first vacation in a while.

And I head down to Myrtle Beach and I’ll never go back. On the first day of my trip, he quit on me, six months of training down the drain just like that. And the lesson there was I didn’t diversify properly. And when I got back, I departmentalized. I said, hey; let’s hire one person for customer service, one person for listing, one person for repricing. And it wouldn’t be the last person that quit on me but the next time it happened; it wasn’t that big of a deal. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs, they kind of fall into that trap because hiring is hard. So you make a few bad hires and you finally find someone you really like, so what do you do? You load them up with everything. And that can really make your business incredibly risky.

Yeah, I mean, some of the other stuff, we kind of touched upon, the listening to ideas and feedback. I can’t express enough how much just getting ideas from other people, you don’t want to be working with robots at all times. Yes, there might be a few roles for that. But for me, I want to hear everyone’s ideas. If you go into a restaurant, and you ask the owner, what’s wrong with the restaurant, they might know some things. But if you go there, and you ask the wait staff, they’re the ones that are interacting with the customers; they are on the ground floor. So, if you have the ideas that are coming from the people that are actually doing the task, the systems, the processes every day, a lot of times, that is where the best ideas come from, especially as your business gets bigger, and you end up higher and higher on the totem pole.

Mike: Yeah, any other mistakes to avoid?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, some of the other stuff we talked about like not setting expectations. I would definitely consider that one of the mistakes, or no budgeting properly, where you hire someone and three weeks later, let’s say one of your ASINs gets suppressed and you have a bad month, and you have to let people go and that time you’re not getting back. So, just making sure that you’re actually understanding the numbers and when to hire is incredibly important. But I think we touched upon some of the most important ones.

Mike: Yeah, and I would say one of the other mistakes to avoid is to — you actually already covered it, but it was kind of sandwiched in between the weeds here which is to not wait too long to make your first hire. I think that businesses often wait too long they can be offloading a lot of tasks. And a lot of entrepreneurs are in the brick in this like super burned out zone, because they’ve waited too long. And then it’s almost like too late to kind of get yourself out from underneath of that because you’re just kind of almost miserable, because you’re answering customer service stuff like at two o’clock in the morning, as you were talking about.

Nathan: Yeah, I completely agree. I think that’s the toughest thing. I mean, that’s a question I get asked the most. And it’s kind from tough for my side because just because I have a 30 minute phone call with someone, I don’t know every aspect of their business. And I don’t want to be like you need to hire someone right now. But I definitely agree that especially if you want to be slightly aggressive in your growth, you have to hire people slightly earlier than slightly later, when you get bogged down.

Mike: Yeah, I mean you need to hire, you got to be skating to where the puck is going, not where it is. So, if you wait to hire someone when you already need them, it’s probably too late. I mean, you really need to be, again, with that whole screen of where the puck is going. It takes it takes a couple of months sometimes to find the right person, it takes at least a couple of months to train them and get them fully up to speed. So I mean, you could be four to six months out to having them working at peak efficiency and that’s a long time. And at least in our type of business where we’ve been growing 100% per year, at least we were back up until this last year, if we were waiting constantly to hire people, it would have just been too late.

Nathan: Completely agree.

Mike: Yeah. So, the last thing we have on here on the list, which is just hiring for different levels. Let’s talk about that a little bit because I think this is super important as well.

Nathan: Yeah, and this is one of the first things I tell clients before they start using FreeeUp just because it’s so good to put it in perspective and you can use it whether you use FreeeUp or not. I like to break it down into three levels. Basic, mid, and expert keeping in mind, these are real people, and they don’t always fit in the perfect levels. But for the basic level, that’s when you think of outsourcing, you think of virtual assistant five to 10 bucks an hour, non US, they might have years of experience, especially on our platform, because we’re not a marketplace for newbies. But at the end of the day, they are followers; they are for clients that have their systems or processes in place.

If you don’t know how to run Facebook ads, and you go to someone and say, hey, run my Facebook ads and they are a basic level freelancer, you’re not going to have a great experience. The mid-level people that tend to 30 range US and non US, the specialist, the graphic designers, the writers, the bookkeepers, you’re not teaching someone how to be a graphic designer, but they’re not consulting with you either. They’re doers. And on the creative side, you can tweak what they do to fit your needs. But at the end of the day, they’re there to execute something. They do the same thing eight to 10 hours a day.

And then you got the experts. The experts, the 20 and up, the high level freelancers, consultants, agencies, they have their own system, their own processes. They come with their strategy, they can project manage, they can execute high level game plans. And I think a lot of people fall into the trap where they try to hire an expert who should be bringing their own system and process and they try to tell that person, hey, this is the strategy, we want you to execute it and that clashes a little bit. So, depending on where you are in your business, think about the step one that we talked about those two different lists, where list one, you’re trying to take things off your plate.

And that falls into the basic level where you have a system and I always say, my three month rule where the first month I’m kind of figuring out a new process, seeing what works, what doesn’t work. By month two, I have a pretty good understanding of what doesn’t work and I’m kind of fine tuning what works. And by month three, I’m really setting that in stone and then I can pass it off to that basic level VA. The mid-level people you think more projects and things that come up maybe more fixed prices. And then the expert level are there for hey, I could spend the next six months learning Amazon PPC, and I can probably do it but is that really a good use of my time? I can’t be a master at everything. Let’s hire an expert to take that over and execute at a high level so I can focus on other things.

Mike: Yeah, I mean that’s great advice. And I think it’s important to recognize that early on. This also kind of ties into the don’t lowball as well, because if you’re low balling you’re probably like hiring a basic level person, you probably need a mid or expert level person.

Nathan: Hundred percent.

Mike: Yeah, cool. So, I don’t want to keep you longer than we promised. We’re getting close to the 30 minute mark here. So let’s take a couple minutes to just talk about the platform and what you do over at FreeeUp.com. Just so people know, it’s with three Es, so it’s F-r-e-e-e-Up, let’s talk about the platform a little bit how people can find freelancers and people to start helping with some task and their business.

Nathan: Yeah, so if you go to FreeeUp.com, we get thousands of applicants every week, virtual assistants, freelancers, agencies from all over the world, five to 100 plus per hour, fixed prices too, over 100 skill sets. We vet them for skill, attitude, communication, just like we talked about before. We let in the top 1%, one out of every hundred. Once they’re on, you as a client, you get fast access to them. There’s no browsing, you put in a request, we feel it within a business day. You can meet with them, make sure you like them, you can hire them, negotiate a rate, agree to fixed price, whatever you want to do.

If you don’t like them, you can click pass or always request more options and provide us feedback and we’ll get you someone else on the back end. My calendar is right at the top of the website if anyone wants to book a time with me. We also have my own team of VAs that cover my Skype, email, live chat, 24/7. So if you have the smallest question need issue, we’re always there and a no turnover guarantee. Freelancers on our platform rarely quit but if they do, we cover replacement costs and get you a new person right away. So, that’s really what we’re all about, the pre-vetting, the speed, the customer service and the protection.

Mike: Got you. So I mean, you’re that saying only one out of 100 people qualify to be on the platform, what are some things that you’re doing to vet them?

Nathan: Yeah, so we vet for skill out of two in communication. For skill I mentioned, we don’t need everyone to be at a 10 out of 10, they have to be honest with what they can and cannot do. So for skill, we have different skill tests we put people through. If they’re an Amazon expert, we have Amazon questions, if they’re a graphic designer, we look at their portfolio. So skill is different depending on what they’re applying for but the attitude and the communication is the same.

For attitude, we do one on one interviews, we’ve got lots of questions that we ask them to understand their personality and what they care about. If they pass that interview, then we have 15 pages of communication best practices that I wrote myself, based on my own hiring experience, my own communication experiences, they have to memorize those and get tested. If they pass, then they get on the platform. And we’re very quick to kick people off the platform if they’re taking on projects they can’t do for the skill side. We’re not a place to experiment on our clients. Obviously, any bad attitude or any poor communication skills that our terms of use has a lot of things in there, like responding to clients within a business day, hitting estimates, stuff like that. So that’s how we’re vetting people.

Mike: Got you. And then how do you guys make money? Is it like a fee on top of what the freelancer is asking for? If the freelancer is looking for five bucks an hour, do you guys tag something on top of that or is the money built into the fee that they’re looking to charge?

Nathan: Yeah, so it’s free to sign up, there’s no monthly fee, there’s no minimum, there’s no obligation, you can stop using us at any time. It’s in our best interest to get you people you like that actually help you grow your business. Our fee is 15% with the $2 minimum per hour, 15% on fixed prices and it’s already factored in. So if we say, hey, Bob is 10 bucks an hour, you’re paying 10 bucks an hour and nothing else. The freelancer set their own rate, if you want to offer Bob nine or eight, or whatever it is, you’re welcome to do it. So yeah, I mean, our fee is built into that price.

Mike: Got you, very cool. And we were talking before we hit record; you were nice enough to offer our audience a little bonus. So do you want talk about that real quick?

Nathan: Yeah, anyone that signs up, mention EcomCrew, get a free $50 credit to try us out. I mentioned before there’s no like monthly commitment or anything like that. And yeah, my calendar is right at the top of the website, if anyone wants to book a call with me to talk about their business, or if you have any questions.

Mike: Got you. So I mean, I haven’t actually gone and done that yet. Is it like you go create an account and then you type in EcomCrew like a coupon code or do they just message you afterwards? How do they get that 50 bucks?

Nathan: Yeah, put EcomCrew when you sign up. If you forget to do it, you can shoot me or my team and email and we’ll make sure you get the credit.

Mike: Okay, cool. And it’s just we always disclose all this stuff on our podcast. But this is not an affiliate code; we’re not getting paid for anything when people go do this. I just think that this is something that obviously if you’ve been listening to EcomCrew for any length of time, you know I’m passionate about hiring people and location independence and having these people. I think that having a remote team, this is a way to hire, especially when you’re getting started, you can hire a few hours at a time and a bunch of different skill sets. It’s like super important when you’re first creating a business, you don’t have the need for a full time Amazon PPC person yet, or a full time bookkeeper or a full time graphic designer.

And this is a way to hire someone maybe five or 10 hours a week to get you going in all those different disciplines and start moving the needle for you but do it in an economical way. And then hopefully, that freelancer will be able to continue to grow with you in the number of hours they have, and maybe eventually even hire them full time. But the thing that I’ve always struggled with, I mean, I wish I knew about FreeeUp when we were first getting started. I was looking at some of the other platforms you mentioned and it sucked man. I had to do all the vetting. I had to eliminate 99 out of 100 and that shit sucks.

I mean, it’s a drag having to go through all that. And if you’re doing all that pre-qualification, and the majority of people that you’re working with the on the platform like you’ve already gone past that part, man, what a joy that would be to be going through rather than just giving up and throwing your hands in the air and say, I’m not going to hire because I don’t feel like going through the vetting process.

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, there’s only one way to scale your business and you have to hire. There’s very few 5, 10 million dollar a year solo entrepreneurs out there. I think people have to understand; no one has a 100% hiring record. That just doesn’t exist. There’s going to be mistakes and bumps along the way. And we take a lot of pride in avoiding almost all of that, but there’s only one way up. You’re going to have to hire to scale and if you’re ready to hire, I’d love to be a great resource for your community.

Mike: Awesome man. Really appreciate you coming on the show. And again, thanks for all your help with Five Minute Pitch. We appreciate it and hopefully our paths will cross again soon.

Nathan: Thanks Mike.

Mike: Thanks Nathan.

All right guys, that’s going to do it for the 229th episode of the EcomCrew Podcast. If you want to get to the show notes for this episode, EcomCrew.com/229. Anything that we mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes. You can also go there and leave us a comment. Let us know that you’re alive out there. We love hearing from you. And if you have a second, go over to iTunes and leave us a review. We haven’t asked that in a while but we don’t get a lot of reviews. It’s always frustrating because we know there’s tens of thousands of people listening but it’s hard to get people to stop what they’re doing and leave a review.

And I get it because like I said, I’m kind of feel like a hypocrite. I don’t leave a lot of reviews myself but it does help the show. We’ve tried to put out tons of free content. If I can make you feel guilty in any way, the only thing that we ask is to leave us a review and that’s all we really ask for. Anything else that we do, we’re gracious to try to give our time and give back to the community. If you can leave a review, we definitely appreciate. All right guys, that’s going to wrap it up for this week and the EcomCrew Podcast. Again, thanks for all your support. We really appreciate it. And until the next one, happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.