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Be The Ninja Master Of Hiring An Amazon Virtual Assistant With Nathan Hirsch – Part 1
March 15, 2021
Be The Ninja Master Of Hiring An Amazon Virtual Assistant With Nathan Hirsch – Part 1 Part 1 Part 2   Things we mention in this session of Seller Round Table: * Join us every Tuesday at 1:00 PM PST for Live Q&A and Bonus Content at Try the greatest Amazon seller tools on the planet free for 30 days at
Be The Ninja Master Of Hiring An Amazon Virtual Assistant With Nathan Hirsch – Part 1

[00:00:00] : Welcome to the seller Roundtable, E Commerce, coaching and Business strategies with and er not and Amy Wiis. Mm. Hey, what's up, everybody? This is Andy or not. And anyways, and this is Seller Roundtable number 86. And we have Nathan her. Sean is I think this is the third appearance. I think he might have the record. Amy, what do you think? You have to look into it. But I think, yeah, I think I think he might. He might be the one of the 1st 23 if not the first. So thanks for being on Nathan. Yeah. Thanks for having me. I feel like I'm back on tour my second podcast today. But for the past month, I haven't really done any podcast because I've just been moving and dealing with all that craziness. So a little rusty, I was gonna say, That's not like you. You're usually, like at least a podcast today, right? I'm toning back. We're focusing more on paid ads and being more picky on podcast, but always happy to come back on your show. I like it. Oh, well paid ads. Let's start there. So, um, selling a digital product which which I do, which Amy does. Um, you know, what have you guys found that's working for? And probably a lot of people who are selling on Amazon probably have some side gigs. You know, they might be building websites for people or who knows what. But in in the digital realm, um, you know what's been working for you guys? Yeah, it's funny because of the free up business model was just very difficult for paid ads. I think that the new owners will do a much better job for us. It's just tough because it's free to sign up. There's no minimums. People start stop part time, full time, Just very tough to track Ri. So with free up were without source school, we kind of saw an opportunity there, and we've been working with a Facebook ad guy that's been going really well. We just started with the YouTube agency, so we're kind of scaling a little bit back on the organic so that we can focus on some other stuff, like investing in businesses and our software, but really focusing on that. I don't know if you guys on my Facebook recently, but we have these funny ads coming out where it's like, Hey, I lost all my hair by having a bad virtual assistant or making a bad higher. And each ad has me with the different haircut. So I have, like an Afro or Joe dirt haircut. So we're still an experimental mode. It's going really well, but it's definitely a more creative, fun side opposed to just doing a podcast every day as your only source of promotion. I love it. So it's more like the Harmon Brothers type theme, right? Like Dollar Shave Club, which I think they were. They were the O. G s Dollar Shave Club, man. That's if you guys haven't watched that video go and and go on YouTube and look up Dollar Shave Club. It's like, you know, they'll probably multiple ones. But look for the, like, one of the oldest ones. I think it got over a million views, like, really, really quickly. It was hilarious. Um, it was very low budget, but it was fantastic. I love those kinds of ads, and I think you know why those ads continued to be successful is because their duel like it's entertainment. Um, you know, messaged, uh integrated with, uh, you know, a marketing message. But it feels more like just like comedy rather than being sold to, Right, right. I think there's enough ads that are just like, Hey, I'm the best Buy my stuff So I feel like you've got to stand out in some way But we'll see. I'm not the guru of ads at this point, but we're figuring some stuff out. So what is it like for you? You know, Let's let's start with a little bit on your story name, for even though you've been on our show many times in your everywhere you've been on a million podcast. Tell everybody a little bit about your background and your recent kind of exciting transition, um, in your career and entrepreneurship and catch us up. Yeah, so I mean, I was a long time Amazon seller. I started in 2000 and 8, 2009, got in really early, started off buying and selling people's textbooks, which kind of got me into Amazon along with half dot com if you remember that from eBay and a bunch of other places. But I eventually got a season desist letter from my college telling me to stop competing with the bookstore, which ended up being one of the best things that happened to me because I pivoted. I did a ton of trial and error. I had to be one of the 1st 1000 drop shippers on Amazon, drop shipping baby products and built a decently large Amazon business. Although I I wouldn't say it was sustainable forever, it was sustainable. While Amazon, what was small and as Amazon got more competitive, we had scaled that business using virtual assistance because college kids were pretty unreliable. So we had spent a few years of that Amazon business really developing a good hiring system. And so we thought, Hey, here, all these other Amazon sellers that have business models that are not drop shipping that are more sustainable. What if we offer our virtual assistants are freelancers to them and that really let us down the path of building a full blown marketplace to compete with the upwards and fibers of the world going after Amazon sellers to start by year three or 2.5. We were going after marketing and the whole marketing industry, the coaches a consult into the agencies and we ended up being acquired by by one of our clients at the end of last year, which was kind of cool. Which kind of led me on a what do I What do I do next? Type of adventure? Uh huh. I love it. So I would love to know. So the so people don't know. The half of the Hoff is an S e o company, um, which purchased elsewhere, Or, um uh, why can't I think of your other company? Uh, school later, Right? Right, right. Yeah. Free up. Um, and and, uh, yeah, so I would I'm curious. Have you been working with the hot Like Are you guys? Uh, you know, seeing as how you have a relationship there. Are you doing organic stuff too, for outsource school? And are you using them? And if not, why not? Uh, well, so first of all, we get all RVs from free up. Still, we have a great relationship with the new owners. We talked to them. I don't know. Once a quarter, so probably more early on, they kind of update us on stuff that they're changing with free up, which most of the stuff we approve on. Obviously, we're not going to agree on every little thing, but they don't really have to do that. So that's been kind of cool. Um, and yeah. I mean, they were supportive of outdoor school. They promoted outdoor school to to their community. They actually asked our permission because they wanted to again running into the same thing of how do you run ads to a free up type business model? They needed some kind of infographic to your info product to use for that. So they kind of ran by us running ads. And I mean, we want to win win. What's good for them is good for us. We love the team there. We train the team there. And so, yeah, we have a great partnership with them. Um, that, Yeah, and And they own a lot of other businesses besides the Hoff as well. That's kind of their their well known one. But Mark Hargrove and David Martin they own, I don't know, 5 10 different companies love it, love it. That's so cool. So what are some other things? I mean, you know, for me once again, you know, this is I think this is gonna be heavily focused on info products because I'm gonna be selfish and pick your brain, Nathan, because that's what I want to learn about. So in terms of, uh, info products like, what are so you say, You know, you're doing I assume you're doing all the standard stuff, like S E O. You know, email paid ads. Is there anything else like are you doing any kind of growth hacking? Um, you know, what are you doing to To get the word out. And I know you do podcast appearances. I would love to hear kind of like the list of what you guys are doing to get the word out. Yeah, so we kind of have this organic marketing blueprint that we're tweaking from the free updates because the free updates was a lot of hustle, Especially in that first year or two. We're working 14 hour days and we don't want to go back to that, but it's the same overall blueprint you got. Podcast. You've got partnerships, you've got affiliates. We've got a Facebook group of outsource school affiliates that I think it was like 250 of them or something. like that, um, s CEO and getting in blog articles and stuff like that. Um, and I feel like I'm missing one of them. I don't know. There's one more that I'm not thinking of. Influencers, maybe. Yeah, Influencers. So we were kind of goes with partnerships. They all kind of go together in some way, like sometimes an influence. Or like you guys are like like Danny that from this morning, like they have a podcast, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they just promote you to their Facebook groups. So you kind of come up with different ways to get in front of different communities. And when you can combine that with paid ads, I believe it can be incredibly powerful. So a lot of the stuff that we're doing less of, like we have a via who handles our partnerships and our affiliates, and I don't really deal with that as much anymore. We have a V a. That rights are blog articles that does S C O outreach. We have a V a that does podcast outreach, obviously, and I have to show up for the podcast. But the same organic market with blueprint that I firmly believe works in any business. You just have to be targeted. You can't be like, Hey, I'm just gonna go on every single podcast. Like when we started with free up. We went on every single Amazon podcast. That was the goal. And then once everyone knew us in the Amazon space, only then did we move on to the marketing space. I love that, uh, and that comes down to I know something that I have a big problem with, which is really focusing on. You know, I had a coaching call with my coach today, and, uh, you know, he was talking about how you know that there's but there's bullets and cannon balls, right? And like that, you're supposed to start with bullets. So in other words, that's kind of like testing on on a bunch of different channels and then finding what works and then hitting that one thing really, really hard. Um, which it sounds like that's kind of what you guys are doing, which is really cool. Um, and I think that you know, once again, I'm rereading the book. I think it's called the one thing, Um, because once again, that's I have a d D. Right. So it's like, Well, I don't know if I've never been diagnosed with a D D. But, uh, you know, we were on a zoom call with these new accounts that we had with my wife, and I and I was like, playing like resizing the window and and my wife was like, What are you doing? Like, Why are you? So I was just like I used to having a podcast and kind of like producing it, you know, making sure the Windows fit and you know, all this stuff. And she was She was making fun of me. But that's like a big issue with me. And I know Amy's kind of similar in that sense. Where were, you know? Yeah, we'll have tons of ideas, and it's really, really hard to focus on quote unquote the one thing. But if you really break it down to, you know, even if we're talking Amazon, right, like one product like the 80 20 kind of thing, like really concentrating on one product or one brand or one form of marketing until you master that until you get to the cannonball, then you can move on and shoot more bullets. You know, uh, so that I love that analogy, because it really put it into perspective for me. Um, any other kind of tips that you can give people as an entrepreneur, Nathan. And as you said, like, you have kind of that same problem. Like, how do you stay focused? Because that's a big issue with me. And I'm sure a lot of people listening. Yeah, I'm kind of with you. I I definitely have a diagnosed a d. D. I remember the early years of working with my business partner Conner would be on a conference call or whatever, and you just feel like they are you paying attention and my mind would just wander off. And I think I've gotten a little bit better at it over the years. But I mean, for up and now, like the 10 years or whatever, that I've been an entrepreneur like it was all Amazon. It was all free up. I invested in stocks kind of behind the scenes since I was 20. But for the most part, I'm focused on those businesses. And now I'm kind of at a point where I'm trying to not just be focused on one business. I have outdoor school. I've got simply s O P, which is a software that we kind of used outdoor school to get users in there. And now we're gonna be promoting that separately. We're looking to invest in one company a quarter going forward over the next year. So that takes up time. I'm going more into stocks. And also now I have some real estate stuff going on as well. So kind of changing my mentality, which was like, Hey, wake up everyday work. 10 hours on growing free up to Hey, how do you divide your time and maximize it and make sure you're getting the most out of it? And it's almost like another level of trusting people even more than we did it. Free up, which I think we did a decent job like I have a We rented out our old place when we moved to Denver, and I have a property manager that's like handling that and I any time that I'm spending like calling plumbers like that's not a good use of my time, so but I have to really trust him and very similar to other stuff on simply s o P. We have an awesome team there, um, and going into investing companies, dividing up between Connor and I. So I think hopefully it's the next level of entrepreneur that I can level up on. Oh, see, I didn't know you were in Colorado now, So you're on mountain time, too. So we're mountain time partners now. I love it. And, uh, also, now that I know that you're delving out money, I'm gonna have to pitch you on on some of the stuff I'm working on. Um, So, um, on that token, you know, um, you know, Amy and I have talked about this before. Um, and and there's always, uh, interesting. Um, you know, there's always, like, a huge list of tools, and I always have to go through like, I kind of do it like, every quarter and, you know, cut out tools, figure out tools. But you know that work for my use case, Uh, things like that. Are there any tools that you consider essential that you guys are using that really help you stay organized and get things done like air table, or, um, I forget the other one caravan where you can, like, slide things back and forth. Like what? What are you using in terms of like productivity? You know, marketing, keeping things on track. I would love to know that. So it's so funny for free up. Ran on Skype. Like for four years. I think I Skyped you guys. They're like we connect clients and freelancers. We had freelancer groups the second the Hawk bought free up. The first thing they did was take everyone off. Skype put him on slack, and we saw that. And we're like, All right, like, I think we'll check out slack. I don't know how we did Skype for four years like there's no going back. Slack is immensely better than than Skype ever was. Um, and I'm kind of bummed out that Salesforce bought them because I'm hoping that they don't change anything that makes it worse. So slack. It is essential where on slack at every single day, that's how we communicate with our virtual teams, the stuff that we teach it out to our school unless it's like a voice role for like customer service or sales, everything's on slack. Our interviews on Slack Onboarding on slack All of our meetings on slack. Um, we even have a slack playbook that you can get at outdoor school, So slacks essential. Um, we use tremolo, and we use tremolo in a bunch of different ways. So, um and I use it for our own projects to divide up short and long term projects, and we use it with all of our creative. So, you know, like our graphic design playbook, our video editing playbook, We kind of breakthrough. How? Hey, when we have a graphic design project, the first thing it does is it gets thrown in Trela. Same thing with video editors. And there's a process. It goes in so that I always know when there's something that I need to review or something is waiting an editor. Or it could be that the video editor is waiting on the graphic designer. And so it's all very organized in there are developers use Gira. I don't know why that Connor kind of handles the Dev side, but for whatever reason, they like that tool. I hate it. I hate it. We had people trying to use it, and I you know, and I've done a lot of development in my life, and I absolutely hate it. It's like, not intuitive at all. I don't know how I've heard that from tons of people, and I just I don't get it. Sorry to interrupt. The issue that I have with tremolo is I like trail and the different templates and the way that it's organized. But the issue that I have with it is that it's not. It's another thing that I have to go to, right. It's not integrated with the rest of my tools. And so I use a lot of Google's tools for productivity and task management because they're right there where everything else is there, fully integrated where Trela is like, Okay, I have to go to trail. Oh, and then, you know, see what's going on and then leave it to go to all these other apps and what I love about slack. Is it fully integrated with Zoom and your emails? And we have zap, you're sending orders, everything like that, we can do the different channels. And so I love slack for centralized management. But that was the thing with travel that I couldn't I couldn't overcome. Yeah, I mean I think my tremolo organization is somewhat chaotic, but it works for me. I'm very good at, like, prioritized the next thing. So I kind of have these long lists of all these things I want to do. And if I'm randomly like thinking on a walk like write it down and the first thing I do every morning is like, reorganized and just like chip away, which works for me. But it probably won't work for everyone. Um, the other tool that we use is our own tool, and we really do use it simply s o p. When we sold free up and they needed all our standard operating procedures, we just turned over like like hundreds of pages of Google docs. And it was just very chaotic, very unorganized, like it was organized as it could be because we're decently organized people. But we kept looking for a better solution. So we built the software for standard operating procedures of virtual teams. We use it ourselves. Our outdoor school members use it, and we'll be promoting that as well. Those are the main tools that we use. Unless I'm not thinking of another one. Yeah. I love that. I think I think that is one of the huge places where a lot of where there's still a lot of room for growth is S O p s and, uh, you know, uh, you know, it's like people were just in general. I mean, like, even if you look at the Amazon space, right, like, there's nobody who has, uh, you know, like, hey by a package on how to manage your PPC, right? I mean, there's instructions on how to learn it, but there's not like something that you can handle via that says like Step one, do this step to do that. Not only that, but it's always evolving, right? So if you build something in a Google doc two weeks from now, you know Amazon's gonna say, Oh, here's offsite video ads, this new thing we you know. And now all that work that you just did is now outdated, and they've changed the ui and all this kind of stuff. So I think there's huge opportunity there, which now that I think that you're kind of, you know, it's not necessarily Amazon focus. But, um, I definitely think you're you're in the right. You know, going in the right direction in terms of having some some s O. P. Stuff, which is fantastic. Any other kind of passions, you know? I know you're doing. You're doing outsource school. You're doing the S O P. Stuff. Like anything else you were talking about, Like real estate. Uh, crypto Like, what other things are you really into right now? Yeah. So, 2000 and 20 I've read probably more books than I have. I don't know in the past three years or so since probably free up started. So I've been reading a lot about just different marketing stuff. Like, I find Webinars fascinating. I've been reading Jason Neff's book and Webinars, and that's right over there. Um, yeah, just kind of diving down tools, Italians up there. But that this year, just a lot of stuff in there and kind of going over different industries. Like I read a lot about angel investing. I read a lot about real estate, kind of jumping into different categories to see what I'm interested in. What I'm not. I'm also just a big like workout guy. Like it's weird. I used to hate working out from home and now I don't even know Like how I went to the gym anymore. I I kind of definitely overpaid for weights on offer up because waits just cost way too much right now. But I was able to know that I have a house. I built the gym downstairs. I get to spend like, an hour there every day. I'm probably in better shape than I was two years ago. So that's another one of my passions. I mean, outside of that, you've got the travel and the concerts and stuff like that, but you're not really doing a lot of that in 2020. So I'm kind of just making do with what I can do in terms of your into all these things. Right now, you said that you're really have leveled up. As an entrepreneur, you been able to take it to where you were really focused on one business. And you really grew that one business and you learn how to build a team and make that business sellable. Hand off a ball right, which is and then you've taken those concepts in that framework and you've applied it. You looked at the opportunities out there that other people need help with the same way Free up was born right because people needed help with Bas and you already had va's that were trained and that we're trusted and, you know, that's a big thing in the service based community. But what would you say is the turning point? I would say a first. Let's leverage your experience of hiring a team, whether it's a visa or or somebody local, right? But what would you say is the turning point for when people really need to think about when they really need to do some reflection and go, Hey, I know it's an e commerce business four hour work week, but I'm never going to grow if I don't hire right, what would you say is the turning point for that? And then my second part of this question is, what would you say is the turning point for when you're ready to focus on more than one business and really start kind of putting your your attention in different areas? So, to answer the first question, for whatever reason, I start businesses with $5000. I don't know why that's the number it makes sense in my head because I start very like lean businesses that don't. I'm not like buying an office to start the business. And $5000 is a lot of V, a work that you kind of can burn through before you have to start making money and it gives you a little bit of a cushion. I actually talked to someone who we might end up investing his company, he said. He heard me say that our podcast. He started his company with $5000. He's crushing it. So for me, it's like, Hey, listen, if you have no money or you're going to really struggle if you go into like, a little bit of debt like yeah, you should be hustling and doing every little thing yourself to get that initial money. But at some point you have to understand that not everything you do as an entrepreneur is gonna work out Like we talked about that organic marketing playbook of Free Up like going on podcast partnerships, blog articles like there was a bunch of other stuff that we did that just didn't work out. But the key was is we had virtual assistant getting all these different things off the ground. And when things didn't work, we're like, Okay, that's a loss. We lost a few 100 bucks, let's pull back And then things started to work. We invested more and more time into it. So for me, it's kind understanding that, hey, being an entrepreneur is just kind of coming up with a lot of different ideas and maybe reading about other people's ideas and trying to tweak what other people are doing. But by having a team, it allows you to experiment and burn through those ideas a lot faster instead of taking six months. You might be able to go through all these ideas in a few weeks or a month or whatever it is. And I think that that's something that we've kind of learned where without your school, we were able to kind of hit the ground running. Even with our first product were like, Hey, how do we just get this first product out there, try to sell it? If it fails like well, we refund everyone, we move on to something else, like, we'll be okay, and if it takes off, then we'll then we'll start figuring out what works on info products because I promise you it's not the same thing that that exactly works on free up. So I think that's kind of the best way I can answer it. I kinda always hated the questions like, When is the right time to hire via or like, Who should I hire first? Because that's just different for every business. But it just comes down to How much time do you really have in a day? How much money do you actually have to play with? And what can you do to kind of burn through that trial and error to figure out what works? I don't know if that answers your question. Mhm, Yeah, I think that really does. And I love the idea of, First of all, looking at starting your business with $5000. I love that benchmark, and I love your thought process around. It is there is a lot of ideas that come into play, and the more of a team that you have to help you burn through them, the faster you can move forward and stop doing what doesn't work versus you know, we all hate like We're sourcing from China, for example, and especially right now and we can't source in person. And we're having to, like, send samples back and forth and it takes like, months to come up with a new product. And you know, it's so frustrating if you don't have people there on the ground or you don't have other people to work those hours that you know you can contact your suppliers and stuff like that and just having a team to work on each of those aspects, you could really cut your timeline down, right? So I think if people think of it that way and budget their money that way instead of thinking, Oh my gosh, you know I don't have I don't want to burn through my $5000 and not be able to make that money So I love that mindset. I think it's a struggle to when you start getting especially into the Amazon community, you doors start opening. It was like the minute I left my job and went full time into business, so I met so many people that I wanted to do cool things with so many opportunities presented themselves and I don't regret any one of the opportunities that I said yes to, but I definitely chased a lot of squirrels and lost some money in the process because I think and you mentioned that earlier, like in the beginning, when you first start in the e commerce, you think I'm going to start 20 different brands and I'm going to do all these different things. But you need to focus on one brand and variations of one product that's working and, you know, to be able to turn that money over. Because foundations cost money, foundations every new business that cost $5000 and it doesn't work out, you're spreading yourself really thin. So I think there is a fine balance, Um, in really looking at what is just potentially a squirrel and what is really in line with your personal vision and your personal goals and your own passions. Would you Would you say that, Nathan? Yeah, and to add a little bit more to that part of being an entrepreneur is knowing when to say no and knowing when to quit. And just because you quit on one particular thing doesn't mean you're quitting as entrepreneur as a whole. But I remember the situation where I spoke at a conference, and somehow I ended up talking to this guy who he was selling dresses online and he was like hemorrhaging money. Um, I was a young entrepreneur, so it wasn't really my place to tell him. Hey, like this is a stupid idea. But I remember that this other entrepreneur that I respect went up to him and he essentially said, like, How much money do you have to lose before you like before? Then you do that. You consider like that it's not going to work out. And the guy didn't really have an answer and kind of my my message. My mind is like there's gotta be some limit. And even without thinking that way, I've kind of done that before. I talk about books to baby products, but there's a lot of stuff in between there that I try to and spend a few $100 on computers and CDs and all different things that didn't work out. But I didn't spend six months on each one of them. I realized, Hey, I'm not making any money here. I quit. I moved out of the next thing. Uh, there was a hookah company that I thought was really cool in between my Amazon business and free up. And I spend about 30 days testing out the market there, and I was like, Hey, no one wants tobacco for hookah. So I got out of that and I focused on free up, So But you wouldn't have known that unless you try. Maybe that was the next big market that turns into the Bitcoin. But I think knowing when to to kind of quit and be like, Hey, I can't spend any more money here anymore. Time here becomes incredibly essential. And bring it now to to like when we invest in companies. Um, we're we have an application. People go through it like we don't want to hop on five phone calls and then be like, Hey, it's not a fit like we want to establish that early on, similar to interviewing someone for a V a role or figuring out an issue after the higher like the earlier you catch that stuff, the more time it allows you for other things that will actually be worth your time and money. Thanks for tuning in to part one of this episode. Join us every Tuesday at one PM, Pacific Standard Time for live Q and A and bonus content after the recording at cellar round table dot com, sponsored by the Ultimate Software tool for Amazon Sales and Growth seller s c o dot com and amazing at home dot com.