This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Nathan Hirsch. Nathan is the go-to entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and e-commerce. Nathan started FreeUp.com in 2015 with $5000 and scaled it to over $12 million per year, selling it in 2019.
He then went on to co-found the Outsource School, a company that educates and provide resources to entrepreneurs to train and help them effectively build and scale their business through outsourcing. The platform combines all of the knowledge and tried and tested systems that Nathan and his co-founders have used to scale businesses to 8-figured and beyond entirely through outsourcing.
Hearing that, I bet you can guess why I asked him to be on today. In the world of Covid and business in general, it literally pays to know how to outsource well for your business – and Nathan is the guy to teach us.
www.OutsourceSchool.com/Misfit for a special offer
Nathan’s parents were both teachers. He grew up thinking he would go to school, get a job, etc. But his parents made him get jobs every summer and he realized he hated having a boss. When he went to college, he saw it as a way to learn, but also as “4 years to create a business” that he could own and run after college. He started our by buying and selling textbooks, essentially competing with his school. Before he knew it, he had lines out the door and got a cease and desist letter from the college!
He then pivoted and started selling on Amazon. He then branched out selling other items and ironically found a niche in baby products. Before he knew it, he had a multi-million dollar business selling baby products from his college dorm room and needed to start hiring because he was overwhelmed. He tried college kids and then outsourced VA’s, and through managing them learned how to put processes in place that he no teaches today to outsource.
He found a lot of holes in the VA process and it took forever to find good ones, so he had an idea to create a company that did that for people, pre-vetting VA’s and taking all the guess work or out of it. That company was Freeup.com. In 4 years, it went from a $5000 investment to $12 mil in sales with everything outsourced and done with 35 VA’s. They sold it in 2019.
At this point, people were approaching Nathan for his experience and knowledge, so he created Outsource School to give people what they need.
What are the do’s and don’ts of growing a good e-commerce brand?
- Nathan didn’t create his own products – he found others and sold them and dropshipped
- Partnering is important to success in building an e-commerce company.
- Nowadays, it’s important not to be on Amazon.
- The fundamentals haven’t changed.
- Focus on customer service
- Focus on how you can diversify and not have all your eggs in one basket.
- Focus on partnering to fill your gaps
Why do you think outsourcing is the best way to scale a business?
- The world has changed.
- You don’t need to be located any specific place, you don’t need office space, etc.
- The barriers and costs to entry are low because of the free tools out there and internet.
- And in today’s world, just about anything you need in a business is available at your fingertips with skilled VA’s. Accounting, graphic design, website design and management, customer service, etc. can all be outsourced.
- You can scale and grow with part time VA’s up to full time as you go.
- It makes it much easier to build a business.
Take us through how your build a business using outsourcing…what are the steps?
2 parts: The idea and MVP and outsourcing.
- Nathan’s first 2 hires are always a part-time bookkeeper and someone to get him out of his inbox and manage his email, appts., etc. T
- ake the MVP to market, get feedback and see if it has promise.
- You can then increase hours of the VA’s and add others in for other needs.
“A MVP (minimum viable product) is important in any venture. Just because we sold a couple companies, doesn’t mean every idea is going to be good. So, you have to test the waters with low risk using an MVP.”
At the 14 min mark, Nathan goes into detail about how they built Outsource School.
- To make your business better and grow, you need to get yourself out of the day to day so you can focus on the most important parts of growing and getting the business out there and making sure it has a market, creating brand awareness, networking, etc.
- Do that correctly and you’ll be in a good place after year one.
What are the “got to” tasks or roles that should always be outsourced?
- There are 3 types of VA’s
- Followers: Non-US, $5-10 per hour and there to follower your processes and systems.
- Doers: Graphic designers, video editors, etc.
- Experts: High level. Think consultative and bring their own best practices, processes, etc.
- It’s important to know which type you need for a role. You will need all 3, but you need to know where to put them and hire them in at.
At the 19:45 mark, Nathan talks about the SOP process (Standard Operating Procedure) and why it is so important to focus on.
- SOPs need to be broken down into 3 parts.
- Part 1: Why. Why is this task important? Why is it needed? What does success for it look like?
- Part 2: Step by Step. Put together the exact steps needed to do the job.
- Part 3: Do NOT Do List or Important Reminder List. Put all the important stuff at the bottom to make sure it is clear to them.
- Once you have the SOP, don’t focus on 1:1 training from day one.
- Give them the SOP and a video for the first week, pay them, and let them go.
- At the end of that week, test them. If they get 80% of it, then move forward with 1:1.
- This is a way to sift through VA’s to find the best one for the role.
What’s the most important thing entrepreneurs need to get right from the beginning and why?
- If someone is newer to VA’s. It all starts with the interviewing and onboarding.
- Nathan uses the CARE method:
- Communication: They must be able to communicate to your standards. How fast do they respond? Do they communicate in a way you understand and do they understand you?
- Attitude: Is their attitude in line for what you want in the role.
- Red Flags: Be on the lookout for any red flags.
- Experience: Do they have the skill set and have proven it.
- Once you find someone, make sure you are on the same page for compensation.
- The onboarding method is called the SICC method in a 30 min meeting:
- Schedule: Are they good with the schedule that you need? Are there conflicts?
- Issues: Computer? Internet? Power?
- Communication: Will they communicate in the way you need to them to?
- Culture: Set the expectation of them having to be a culture fit and what that means.
- At the end, give them the opportunity to ask questions and back out.
Anything else we should know on outsourcing?
- When starting – just focus on getting 5 hours per week back.
- Don’t try to outsource everything at once.
What has surprised you most on your entrepreneur journey?
- Nathan gets rejected almost every day. He keeps putting himself out there and getting rejected all the time.
- You learn to focus on the successes and let the failures go and not affect you.
- Your ability to handle rejection well will help you grow a larger business.
- Nathan also shares a story of almost losing a whole business because they almost lost all the data for the company.
Who do you go to for mentorship and why do you choose them?
- Look for people that have skills you are lacking that you cannot hire for.
- Create a relationship with them before asking for mentorship.
- You can even hire them as a coach and teach you their processes.
- Look for people with your same values. For Nathan, that is honoring your work, treating people with respect, and owning up when you make mistakes.
Best advice for an entrepreneur starting out today?
- Get your MVP out there.
- You don’t need hardly any money to start a business right now.
- Figure out if there is actually a market for your product and experiment to make sure it is worth your investment.
Best Quote: “A MVP (minimum viable product) is important in any venture. Just because we sold a couple companies, doesn’t mean every idea is going to be good. So, you have to test the waters with low risk using an MVP."
Nathan's Misfit 3:
- Reward those who have helped you achieve success.
- Honor your word and be super clear on what you can and cannot do.
- Figure out what your ideal day looks like to be your most productive and make sure you business is structured around that.
5 Minute Journal: www.MisfitEntrepreneur.com/Journal