#168 – Nathan Hirsch on Building a Multi-Million Dollar Business

Click on the button below to listen to this episode of the Start Fierce Business Podcast.

Nathan Hirsch is a serial entrepreneur who is an expert in hiring online and building eCommerce businesses.

He co-founded his first eCommerce company out of his dorm room in 2009 drop shipping products on Amazon.com and built it to sell over $25 million worth of product over 5 years. While scaling, Nathan discovered the power of outsourcing and ended up building a remote army of freelancers.

In 2015, Nathan co-founded and became the CEO of FreeeUp, an online hiring marketplace that allows business owners fast access to a hand-picked network of top talent freelancers in eCommerce, digital marketing, web development, and much more who have already been vetted for skill, attitude, and communication.

In this podcast episode, Nathan talks about how he built several multi-million dollar a year companies. We discuss how FreeeUp can help entrepreneurs grow their own businesses quickly as well as why he’d like to have lunch with Jeff Bezos.

As a business owner, look for low risk, high reward situations. - Nathan Hirsch Click To Tweet

In This Episode of the Start Fierce Business Podcast:

  • Nathan shares how summer internships taught him he couldn’t work for someone else.
  • He talks about how FreeeUp started based on his own needs.
  • We discuss how he grew several multi-million dollar companies.
  • We also talk about his greatest business challenge – working with developers due to their different mindset.

Reach Out to Nathan:

(Some of the links listed below are affiliate links, and I will receive compensation for you signing up for service using my links.)


Note: Transcripts are created automatically and are not 100% accurate. However, they help our visitors find relevant content using our website’s search feature.

Welcome to the show. Nathan. Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to have you on tell me about yourself outside of your business.

I’m really big into taking care of all three aspects of your life. So you got the business and financial part of it, you’ve got the health and fitness part of it. And then you have the friend and social and family part of it. So outside of the business, I spend a lot of time in the gym. I spent a lot of time working out. I I still play baseball, and I’m 29 years old. I play real hard pitch baseball and weekends, I go for runs. I actually just got back from a run with my dog, Charlie that I adopted about a year and a half ago. And on the social side, I live with my girlfriend in a condo in Orlando, Florida. I’m from Massachusetts, originally, my parents still live there. And my sister lives out in Seattle. So we kind of have a triangle going where everyone comes to me. We all go to Massachusetts, we all go to Seattle throughout the year.

When did you know that you are an entrepreneur.

I knew I was going to be an entrepreneur when my parents made me get the summer internships. And I would work 40 to 50 hours a week while all my friends were outside playing during the summer. And I hated every second of it. But I learned a ton all about sales and marketing and customer service. But what I realized during those internships is that I didn’t want to do this for 40 years, I didn’t want to work for someone else. I didn’t want to watch the clock, I knew I wouldn’t be happy. So it kind of gave me that glimpse and sneak peek. So when I got to college, I felt like I was on this, this timer. If I didn’t build a business before I graduated college, I was going to be stuck for the rest of my life. And that’s when I really knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Well, tell us about your business and how you got started. I know several episodes ago, I we chatted with Connor. But um, love to hear about your business again, and kind of like your journey into it. Sure.

So free up is a business that I started based on my own needs. With my first Amazon business that I started in college, we had to hire freelancers, because I was 20, I didn’t have a lot people that I could hire. And what I did was I started using the up works in the fibers of the world. And what I realized when you post a job there, it takes forever, you get 50 applicants, you interview them one by one, and you never know what you’re going to get. So with free up, I want to do it differently. We get hundreds of applicants every week, we vet them for skill attitude, communication, take the top 1% let them in and then make them available to our clients rapid fire whenever they need them on the backend, 24 seven support and and no turnover guarantee if that Freelancer ever quit. So it’s all about the preventing the speed, the customer service and the protection. What’s been your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur. I think my greatest challenge has been working with developers because developers really have a different mindset. I almost relate it back to when I worked at the Firestone Corporation, I was in sales as an intern. And I had to deal with all these mechanics that were working on cars. And I didn’t know that much about cars. And they didn’t know enough to sell the customers. It didn’t have that kind of personality. But we had to work together to get that end result to get the sale and to make the customer happy. Well, building software is very similar. I’ve got the customer service in the systems and the process and the freelancers. But the developers build the software that holds it all together from a time tracking to the client having account to the billing. So we have to find a way to work together, even though we speak completely different languages. And then throw in that we have timelines and due dates and budgets and everything on top of that, I think that’s the biggest thing that took me so long to learn to figure out, learn how to figure out to do it effectively. So how did you figure out how to do it, it all comes down to communication and trying to find that middle ground. So we obviously talk like businessman and they talk like developer. So how do we put everything in the words and tone that everyone can understand? How can we get on the same page that when we hit a deadline did when we have a deadline? How can we give enough leeway for visions for things that didn’t pop up? How can we prevent gray areas, so everything is just cut and dry black and white right from the beginning. So there’s no he said, she said down the line. So I think the biggest thing was adding extra communication, especially at the beginning of projects to avoid any hassle and issues down the line. So aside from not wanting to work for someone else, and aside from your family, what is your why my why. So when I started my Amazon business, it was a lot of fun. It was my first entrepreneurial experience, I was making a lot of money. And I always thought that money was the why. Because I grew up with my parents, both being teachers, I went to school in the town over for me, where everyone was, their parents were doctors, lawyers, dentists, and they, that’s why they they could play during the summer and I was working so when I started the Amazon business, that was my why. But I quickly realized that when you only get to the top by yourself, it’s pretty lonely. And and and it doesn’t necessarily keep you warm at night, so to speak. So when what I realized is the part that I liked about the Amazon business wasn’t pushing products. It wasn’t making money, it was working with the people around me building my team, the fact that I was able to help other people provide for their families. So with free up my why is that I get to help thousands of freelancers all around the world, build their freelance business and provide for their family. And when I travel, I get to meet up with them. And they’ve shown me their houses in their cars. And on the flip side, I know what being an entrepreneur feels like, wanting to be an entrepreneur feels like. So I’ve been able to help thousands of businesses all over the world, pursue their dream, pursue their passion, by getting access to this talent. So my Why is all about helping the business owners around me and not just myself. And that’s what drives me every day. I love that what advice you have for someone that’s just getting started as a business owner is focus on low risk, high reward situations. I think we all get into that Shark Tank shark shark tank mentality where you need $500,000, you need a million dollar to start a business. It’s not the case, we live in an incredible time I started both my companies with less than $1,000. And it’s not going to be easy. And there’s no magic bullet or fast way to make money. But you have to focus on trying things. And trial and error is the best way, what I would do is I would put a little bit of money into this and a little bit of money into that. And I would try different things. And when I saw results, I would put more money into it. And if I didn’t see results, I would take money out. So I think a lot of people they try to play on this big scale, taking huge risks. When on the opposite. I’m taking lots of small risks, and those turn into great rewards.

Awesome. I love that.

Were some of those risk taken just like taking up your time? Or was it kind of putting money in a few places, it could be both. So for my Amazon business, I was listing products. So I would, it was all my time I would go to different websites. And I tried sporting equipment and DVDs and computers and video games. And I couldn’t get anything to sell. And it wasn’t until I came across baby products and got out of my comfort zone. If you can imagine me as a 20 year old single college guy selling millions of dollars of baby products on Amazon. That was me. But that was my time. Now with free up I’ll put my money into a small, different things. So for example, I just hired someone to run my Instagram. Every month I hired someone to run my Twitter every month cost a few hundred dollars a month. What’s the worst case scenario? I use them for three months. And I fire them and it cost me 600 bucks. I’m not going to go homeless. It’s a relatively small risk. Now, what’s the best case scenario and they take it totally off my plate. They grow my brand, they get clients and they really take my Instagram to a level that I can’t get it there because I don’t know Instagram that well. So that’s a low risk, high reward situation. And I constantly try to put myself in that position. So how would I go about hiring somebody on free up? Sure. So if you create a free account, and don’t forget to mention this podcast, you get a $25 credit, create an account and at the top click Request a freelancer, it’s free to sign up. There’s no monthly fee. There’s no minimums. There’s no obligation we just take a percentage of the hours worked. When you put in a request, we introduce someone within a business day, you can meet with them if you like, then click higher and you get started. If you don’t, you click pass and you provide us feedback. And we get you somewhere else based on that feedback. It eliminates all the time of browsing and it too much faster. More, I would say slick process.

Okay. So you do the searching for us. We put out what we need. And your you look through your database and find someone that would be compatible. Exactly and available. Because Yeah, that’s half the battle.

If you could have lunch with one business thought leader, who would it be?

I mean, it’s got to be Jeff Bezos. And I know that’s easy answer. But I mean, I got into Amazon in 2008, when there were no gurus. There were no courses. No one knew what Amazon was. No one thought it was a real job or opportunity. So I mean, just being able to pick his brain for 30 minutes would be incredible. And what’s your favorite business book? start with why? And it kind of relates back to that question. It took me a while to figure out my why. And I feel like only in the past three years of I really figured out the why. And, and that book really resonated with me. And it kind of explained why I got sick of my first business I was just profitable there. There wasn’t an actual reason behind it were free up, I have a lot more passion for what is your favorite aside from free up? What’s your favorite internet resource or app that just makes your life easier?

Skype I mean, it’s incredible. I talked to people in 50 countries every single day by by just sending a message and making calls. And I mean, you don’t need an office anymore. We built three up to over $7 million a year with no office no overhead. I’ve worked out of my house and I have thousands of freelancers that are offering their services from the comfort of their home as well. And it’s all made possible by a free app made by Microsoft.

So I am kind of all over the place and I apologize for this, but how do you manage your freelancers? So one thing to remember is, I’m not managing these thousand freelancers. We’re a marketplace, when when someone’s working with a freelancer, if you hire them, I’m not managing them for you. You’re working directly with them. So I just have my team, which is about 30 people. And I mean, it’s a toughest question answer. How do you manage people because you do it based on experience. I mean, my first manager was very strict. He micromanaged he, he was a little over the top, but that was the only way that I knew how to manage. So when I started my own business, I just copied him and I quickly learned that that that wasn’t the best way. Right. But you only learn by doing it and by getting feedback. And by changing and tweaking and having meetings and, and that’s really how you become a good manager.

Okay, got it. Yeah, cuz you have a lot of freelancers, and, well, you have a lot of people on your team. So I was just wondering how you kind of keep track of everybody. You hire really good people, and it makes your job of managing very easy. Well, where can listeners find you online? what’s your website?

Where can we find you on social media you so free up calm with three E’s. Don’t forget to create an accounting mentioned this podcast for a $25 credit right at the top my calendars there you can book a free meeting with me. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at the real Nate Hirsch. You can find me on Facebook and definitely check out the free blog and the free of YouTube channel.

Okay, awesome. Nathan, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today.

Thanks so much for having me.