In this article, let’s talk with Nathan Hirsch and learn from his experiences.
I am thrilled to introduce you to a man who has accomplished so much in the business world. Not only has he successfully built and sold a business with the help of a team of virtual assistants, but he also is in the process of creating a second business, due to his extensive knowledge of the e-commerce industry. I am eager to learn from his experiences and insights, as I am sure you are as well, to learn from none other than Nathan Hirsch, the founder of FreeUp which he sold for a multiple of over seven figures.
He will be sharing his strategies, lessons learned, and any advice he has to offer for those hopefuls who are looking to excel in the world of business and learn more tips and tricks that will help them in their online business adventure. If you’re interested in learning all that, stay tuned.
- Who is Nathan Hirsch?
- What was his first hiring experience like?
- What tips can Nathan give to people that wish to step away from controlling the business?
- What advice can Nathan give to people on their first few hires?
- What advice does he have to find good leaders?
- How did Nathan nurture a good virtual assistant work relationship?
- Why did he make businesses by providing good bookkeeping to entrepreneurs?
Who is Nathan Hirsch?
Nathan’s journey as an entrepreneur began back in his college years. As a financially struggling college student, was annoyed at how the school chose to create such high markups for the textbooks that he needed for his education. That was when he decided to take matters into his own hands and started his own textbook business to compete with the school’s bookstore.
It was a referral system, where he had people that wanted to sell to him their old school textbooks and he also had people who needed the said textbooks. However, Nathan’s success was short-lived as he received a cease and desist letter from my college, threatening to expel him if he didn't stop his business. Looking back, that moment was one of the best things that ever happened to him because it allowed him to jump into Amazon because he didn’t want to be expelled.
This setback started his journey as an e-commerce entrepreneur by scouring through deal websites and building relationships with various U.S. manufacturers who were not well-versed in the e-commerce business model. So Nathan created a pitch to these manufacturers – “I'll get you sales, you keep my credit card on file, you charge me when you make something and ship it and you ship it to the end consumer.”. Soon enough, he was working with hundreds of manufacturers and selling hundreds of thousands, eventually millions of dollars worth of products without any inventory or cash upfront. All they did was drop-ship the products from the manufacturers to the end consumers. This all happened within his college dorm room.
What was the first lesson he learned from his Amazon adventure?
Nathan’s accountant had communicated to him and asked him “When are you going to hire your first person?”, which made Nathan chuckle because why would he do that? That was money out of his pocket. He feared that they wouldn’t do as good of a job as him. Nathan was overconfident, he loved working seven days a week. Believing that he’d be able to run his business alone forever. The accountant just laughed in his face and said, “You're going to learn this lesson on your own.”. Which he did when the first busy seasons came around. That was when he learned that every business needs employees, more so when the business expands and becomes larger.
After getting through the busy seasons reaching January, he starts to think to himself, he could never do that again. Which is when he made his first hire and eventually his first long-time business partner, Connor Gillivan.
What was his first hiring experience like?
Nathan thought that hiring was an easy process. He believed that posting a job would attract reliable workers who could make his business life a whole lot easier. However, after several bad hires, quickly learned that college kids were not the most dependable workers. As a college student himself, hiring adults was intimidating, and he doubted whether anyone would want to work for one.
Fortunately, a friend introduced him to the virtual assistant space. That was when he decided to hire people from the Philippines for the first time. This decision came with a steep learning curve though. Nathan had to figure out how to communicate with them effectively, give clear directions, set realistic expectations, and build a strong relationship with them.
Despite the challenges, this experience was invaluable as it opened up a new pool of talented workers and taught him valuable skills that he still uses to this day.
How did his business develop after that?
As time passed, the Amazon marketplace became increasingly challenging. The competition grew more intense, and courses and other individuals started popping up. Additionally, platforms like Upwork and Fiverr weren’t equipped for specializing in e-commerce. In light of this, Nathan and his business partner had decided on the idea for FreeUp – a marketplace that would vet virtual assistants and freelancers specifically for the e-commerce space.
The business blew up, soon expanded beyond, and quickly grew larger than their Amazon business. With FreeUp, they filled a gap in the market and provide a valuable service for businesses looking for reliable e-commerce professionals. Through the process of all of that, they gained skills like partnerships, podcasts, how to program their own website outside of Amazon, and the like.
How did their internal team look like during FreeUp?
Nathan’s internal team was 30 virtual assistants in the Philippines doing everything from sales calls to customer service to bookkeeping to lead generation, you name it. And one of our clients acquired us at the end of 2019 for a multiple of over 7 figures.
What business did he create after FreeUp?
Nathan and his business partner started up a business idea called Outsource School, which is their membership that teaches people about Nathan and Connor’s hiring process.
What tips can Nathan give to people that wish to step away from controlling the business?
Nathan was the phase of the business, he went to all the meet-ups, his face was on the marketing, and he went to podcasts and conferences, but the actual operations of the business ran without him. When he chose to sell the business to two entrepreneurs that he had very good business relationships with, replacing him as the face of the marketing was a fairly easy step.
If you want to be able to successfully sell your business, you can’t be the one running its operations. The first hire in any business is one of the most important decisions you can make because you want to promote the business from within. The first hires that you train to become something great, are the pillars on which you build your business. You want to be able to put team leaders in place for those first hires.
Nathan continues to explain that when you’ve made a team and they are capable of doing their job to a high standard, then secure their place in the company. Create a great relationship with them so that they continue working together with you, with whatever means you can do, raise their salaries, and give them compensation. Make them feel that staying in your company is the best decision they can make.
8 Things I learned from Nathan Hirsch about Reselling on Amazon
Nathan Hirsch of EcomBalance shares his entrepreneurship journey that started with textbooks, then an Amazon store that he phased out to build his accounting and VA services. We talk about hiring the right people and tips on bookkeeping for business owners.
What advice can Nathan give to people on their first few hires?
That’s precisely the reason why Nathan and Connor created the Outsource School they did the same thing, like every entrepreneur, you don't know how to hire, and they don't teach you how to hire in school. You make a lot of mistakes and they wanted to give people their process, this is the interview questions you asked, this is how you onboard them, this is how you train them, this is how you manage them.
The biggest thing that Nathan and Connor learned was you can't just hire for skill, you got to hire for attitude and communication as well. Communication, yeah, they need to speak English, but they need to be able to problem solve and have a meeting and get on the same page quickly and not just go over and over and over. Attitude, you want someone who cares more about just money and stability, they got to care about the company they got to care about growth and improvement and they have to want to be a leader.
What advice does he have to find good leaders?
What does a leader actually entail? What do you expect from them? Who are they going to be managing? What tasks are they responsible for? Nathan talked to them about feedback. Like “You got to come every day with feedback and ideas and, and looking for solutions. Don't just come to me with problems every single day. Tell me your idea of what those solutions are.” And even if they're wrong, even if there's something you didn't think of that I correct you on, like that's how you get better.
How did Nathan nurture a good virtual assistant work relationship?
To foster a relationship with your VA that isn’t a “Yes sir, no sir” relationship, you have to break that early. It’s very tough to do when someone’s been working with you for three months and you really depend on the seniors to do it.
You have to conduct meetings about it and communicate that it is unacceptable and that your business does not tolerate that mindset. You want thinkers, problem solvers, people who are coming to the table with ideas every single week, and not just robots. You’d rather tell them what you expect of them early on, rather than train them for 2 months only to learn that they’re not fit for the job.
Why did he make businesses by providing good bookkeeping to entrepreneurs?
The real reason to have good bookkeeping as an entrepreneur is to make good decisions every single month. If you're just guessing or looking at your bank account and making decisions off that or waiting till the end of the quarter or waiting till the end of the year to look at your books, that's not going to work out well for you and it's going to be harder and harder to make good decisions as you grow. Should you hire more people? Should you invest more in PPC? Should you cut software? These are decisions that you have to make on a monthly basis as a business owner.
When would be right for your business?
Nathan’s two businesses namely EcomBalance and AccountsBalance are e-commerce centric and non-e-commerce centric respectively, monthly minimum for any e-commerce business is $3.99 a month so usually if they're doing less than a few hundred thousand dollars a year then that's not the right fit for them for whatever reason for non-e-commerce businesses on Accounts Balance our minimum is $2.99 so it can be a little cheaper maybe a little smaller. Though, Nathan does state that he always hires a bookkeeper from day one before we're profitable.
Grow your Amazon business like Nathan Hirsch!
Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, at Nathan Hirsch. You can also check out Outsource School. He has some wonderful free resources there. You can grab his hiring packet to help you. If you're an e-commerce business looking for bookkeeping, go here. And if you're a non-e-commerce business, go here.
If you want to learn from successful Amazon sellers, we've got you covered! Our previous articles feature experts in online arbitrage, including Romer the Roamer, Raiken Profit, The Gravy Train, Scott Needham, Checkmate Flips, Fields of Profit, Gavin Sweeney, Jonny Smith, Flips4Miles, Clear The Shelf, Oliver Flips, Taylor Jones, 1000 ASINS, Soros, FBA Makayla, and lastly Samara These experts in online arbitrage have shared their Amazon journeys and valuable insights, providing you with a wealth of knowledge to draw from. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep crushing it on Amazon!