On today’s show, we are joined by Nathan Hirsch. Nathan is an expert in remote hiring and eCommerce. He built and exited FreeeUp.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted virtual assistants, freelancers, and agencies in eCommerce. Nathan’s most recent project is Ecombalance where his team focuses on eCommerce businesses selling on Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Etsy, and other marketplaces master their bookkeeping.
Tune in now to learn to grow your business by using your financial statements the right way!
[00:01 – 05:56] Opening Segment
- Let’s get to know Nathan Hirsch
- The story behind building FreeUp
[05:57 – 15:38] Building His Own Service-based Company
- Nathan talks about how this “rebellious act” led him to entrepreneurship
- We have an interesting exchange about vegetarian diets
- The customer pain point that pushed Nathan to get out of Amazon
[15:39 – 21:04] Building Trust With Potential Buyers of Your Company
- Newbie entrepreneurs should learn this thing about outsourcing
- How to build trust with buyers if you want to sell your company
- Want some Amazon refunds? Check out Getida
- Promo code: FTM400
[21:05 – 30:24] How to Look at Financial Statements
- The right time to hire bookkeeping services
- The right way to use financial statements according to Nathan
- Nathan gives a sneak peek at the services that EcomBalance offers
[30:25 – 36:05] The Future of Bookkeeping
- Nathan shares his outlook for the bookkeeping industry
- Are there any interesting trends in the e-commerce space right now?
- Is EcomBalance a good investment?
[36:06 – 41:41] Closing Segment
- Know more about Nathan in the Fire Round!
- Connect with Nathan!
- Links below
- Final words
“One of the ways you build trust with someone buying your company is you understand your numbers and the numbers that you’re telling them on those initial phone calls match up with the numbers that are actually on the documents.” – Nathan Hirsch
“You can’t make business decisions just by looking at what’s in your bank account and cash coming in. You have to actually see income statements, balance sheets, cash flows.” – Nathan Hirsch
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Nathan Hirsch 0:46
Yeah, one of the things that we teach a lot in outsource school is setting expectations. And that’s to me, that’s where most people go wrong. Like like we just hired a bookkeeper for ecom balance. And we set all the expectations from schedule to pay to future bonuses to future raises to the fact that they have to be exclusive for us. And they have to drop their other clients. Like we don’t leave any stone unturned, we want to be 100% on the same page, because the last thing we want to do is invest time, energy and money to someone and then realize they can’t work the schedule they need or there’s something that we didn’t account for. And we have a really solid checklist at outsource school that we encourage people to put their VAs through. It’s this extra like 20 minutes of time, that’s just going to save you hours and hours and 1000s of dollars of time and hassle in the future. And there’s obviously other parts of hiring as well. But that expectation is where most people who are hiring for the first time go wrong. You want to be getting the numbers at the end of every month, you want to know Hey, did I lose 10 grand last month? Did I make 10 grand this month? If I have five different skews, is this one profitable? Or is this one losing money, you can’t make business decisions just by looking at what’s in your bank account and cash coming in. You have to actually see income statements, balance sheets, cash flows. And if you’re not doing that every single month, or you’re spending five to 10 hours a month, putting it all together, those are things that are gonna hold you back as an entrepreneur. That’s my opinion.
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you are capable of more, then join us. This show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your hosts, serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.
Welcome everyone to the firing the man podcast. On today’s show, we are joined by Nathan Hirsch. Nathan is an expert in remote hiring in E commerce. He started his first e commerce business out of his college dorm room and has sold over $30 million online. He built and exited www.freeup.com, a marketplace that connects businesses with pre vetted virtual assistants, freelancers and agencies in E commerce. Nathan’s most recent project is ecom balance, where his team focuses on E commerce businesses selling on Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Etsy and other marketplaces, master their bookkeeping, Welcome to the show.
Nathan Hirsch 3:14
Yeah, thanks so much for having me excited to be here. I think we timed this perfectly because we’re supposed to get a windstorm in about an hour. So I think we’ll be able to sneak this in.
Well, very good, very good. So Nathan, first things first, tell us a little bit about yourself and your path as an entrepreneur.
Nathan Hirsch 3:29
Yeah, so I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was young. It all started when my parents made me get real jobs when I was 15 and on. And I was working for someone else. I worked at a retail store like a rent a center called Aaron’s. I worked for a meatpacking plant back when I was a vegetarian, which is kind of interesting. I worked for Firestone, which is I did an internship there. So I had all these jobs. And I was working every summer every winter. And I really just wanted to work for myself. So when I got to college, I started hustling. The short version is I started buying and selling people’s textbooks to try to compete with my school bookstore. Got a cease and desist letter from my college telling me to knock it off or I would get kicked out of school. And that made me pivot towards Amazon. I had sold some textbooks on Amazon a little bit so I was familiar with it. This was 2008 2009. So the wild wild west of Amazon before courses and gurus and PPC and all that stuff. So I got in really, really early, had a good amount of success. I didn’t build a long term brand but I sold over $20 million from when I was 20 to 27 ish and what it really allowed me to do is start free up, a marketplace to help other ecommerce sellers hire. I’d hired virtual assistants and gotten pretty good at it built virtual teams and built this platform connecting Amazon listeners, Amazon PPC experts, Amazon virtual assistants, whatever, to these e commerce sellers and now there’s all these e commerce agencies out there in service writers, I like to think we were in that that top group starting off servicing Amazon sellers. And we got that to eight figures in four years we were acquired right before the pandemic, I know I’m going a little fast, we can kind of dive into whatever parts you guys want to dive into, BUT post sale, we built a company Outsource School, which teaches sellers our systems and processes and how we hire really great people. So that’s out there, and our newest venture ecom balance, which is focusing on the finances and helping sellers really understand their numbers and make decisions based on their numbers. And just from consulting and going through due diligence and doing our own personal and business finances. That’s kind of a huge pain point that we want to help solve. So that’s kind of the short version, how I went from selling books to eventually baby products on Amazon. That was my Amazon business to starting and selling free up to now outsource school and ecom balance.
That’s great. So yeah, Nathan the depth of experience. So before we dive into some of that other stuff, I’d like to circle back a little bit. So the name of the podcast is firing the man, and so you had mentioned you know, you had entrepreneurial tendencies early on and so, but you had jobs, you know, meatpacking plant all these jobs that you had, so when you went to, you know, from selling, and I really like the cease and desist at the college, you know, so like hustling books, so that’s pretty cool. Whenever you decided that you know what I’m gonna I’m just gonna not go and work for anyone else. I’m just gonna go and do my thing on Amazon. Did you, like, was there pressure from your family and friends? What fears did you have? And how did you overcome those?
Nathan Hirsch 6:35
Yeah, so my parents are both teachers, or they’re retired now, but they were teachers while I was growing up. And so they always had the mentality, you get good grades, you go to college, you work, you have a retirement plan, they were always very financially savvy in terms of saving and investing and stuff like that. And then you retire it and you enjoy life. And that’s kind of the game plan. And they’d always push me to do well in school, they’d push me to have these jobs and to save and all that, but I think everyone kind of grows up trying to rebel against their parents in some way. So you always want to do the exact opposite of what your parents want you to do. And I remember going to these jobs and my Firestone internship, it was a great internship, I was making 12 bucks an hour, which was unheard of for a 16 year old back in 2009. And it was this great opportunity, my parents were so proud of me and, and I just hated every second of being there. I didn’t like being bossed around, I didn’t like being told what to do, I didn’t like having to wake up early to get there. And every second I was there, I didn’t want to be there. And when I got to school, I pretty much told my parents that I’m going to be quitting this internship within the first two years. I originally told them, I was like, hey, like all these student loans and stuff, can I just like take this money and start a business with it. And they shot that down pretty quick. So it was kind of up to me to to prove to them that I could start this business and even fast forwarding, when I when I quit that internship, my parents definitely didn’t want me to do it. They wanted me to go the safe route and have the job and have the benefits. I had some job offers graduating college, I had this Amazon business and job offers and they really wanted me to take the job and maybe do Amazon on the side and have that security. But once I made the decision, my parents have always been very supportive of anything I do. They made it very clear, I’m not allowed to move in or I wasn’t allowed to move back in with them after college. So as long as I didn’t end up homeless on the street, and I could pay my own bills, they were good with it. But it definitely took them a little bit to come around to the idea of me not having a real job.
Nice. Yeah, that’s a great support system. You know, it’s huge to have, you know, people close to you that’s supportive. One other thing I’d like to get into is so recently in 2021 I’ve moved to a plant based diet. So when you said you were a vegetarian and you worked in a meatpacking plant, how was that experience?
Nathan Hirsch 8:49
Yeah, so I’m actually a vegetarian now. I was a vegetarian in high school. And then I stopped in college because it was just impossible to be a vegetarian in college. And then now I’m a vegetarian again. So is this meat store that was right by my house, and I was lucky that I didn’t actually have to, like touch the meat or anything like that. I was more of like a cashier like managing people. It was weird. But yeah, I mean, if I could do it over again, maybe I wouldn’t work there. I’m curious why you do it. I do it more from like a health standpoint, I feel healthier. I just have more energy. I don’t really miss meat. It was never kind of a big part of my diet. But it’s kind of weird, like the jobs you take when you kind of need money at the time. I wanted to buy my first car and my parents always wanting to teach me lessons that I had to pay for everything myself, whether it’s video games, a car, whatever it is, so I was out there working as much as possible and taking whatever job would take me as a 16 year old with no experience.
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, you know, jobs are you know, you just learn as you go and figure things out. But to answer your question, yeah, you know, I just switched to a plant based diet recently and I love meat I hunt and so you know, when I hunt I donate the meat, but I do it for health reasons as well. So, yeah, a documentary one night changed everything for me. So, yeah. So David back on course over to you.
Yeah, all good, all good. So we talked about it a little bit at the beginning, but I want to dive into free up. And for the listeners that are not familiar with that, I can tell you, I hired my first VA on free up and use it all the time. It’s a huge part of our business. And it is not a small company. And so can you walk us through that? Starting with the aha moment. Right, from the inception of that company. All the way through exiting.
Nathan Hirsch 10:37
Yes. So at the time I was selling on Amazon, I think we maxed out at five or $6 million a year, and Amazon was getting harder. They were changing algorithms on us. We were drop shipping to from other manufacturers, and some of them were going to Amazon. So we kind of saw the writing on the wall. I think it scared us a little bit to be relying on Amazon, I think having our own brand or the idea of owning our own brand, our own website was very appealing instead of waking up one morning and not knowing what Amazon’s going to tell you. And they’re just in complete control across the board. So we were brainstorming, what business do we start? How can we started our own brand and we had all these Amazon VAs that we had trained, that we had found, that we were using more during busy season and less when it wasn’t the holidays, and up until that point, and for, and this is the newbie entrepreneur in me, I hadn’t really networked with other people in the Amazon industry, I had sold a million dollars on Amazon, but I was the only Amazon seller that I knew. And I think that that came from a mindset of scarcity, where people were gonna steal my ideas or hurt my business or whatever. And so I started just networking and talking to other ecommerce sellers and hiring came up as a big pain point for them. And really, free up really started off with, Hey, I’ve got graphic designers, I’ve got listers, I’ve got customer service people, you tell me what you need, shoot me a Skype message, shoot me an email, hop on a phone call with me, I’ll provide them and I’ll just bill you for their hours, and I’ll mark it up a little bit. And that’s really how it got off the ground. And we didn’t have any software, there was nothing holding it together. We had a Google sheet that we would keep track of everyone’s hours and what VAs we were attaching to different people and what, I think the aha moment was we had done really no marketing up until that point, we had maybe 10 20 clients who were providing vas, and all of a sudden phone calls started coming in. And I remember that this one call is this person that had been in a conference in China and had heard about free up and I had never been to China, she had just been talking to one of my customers and we ended up creating an affiliate program based on that where any freelancer you referred you would get 50 cents for every hour that we bill to them forever. The new owners have tweaked that a little bit, but that’s really what exploded it because then these initial 20 customers said, hey, I can save money on my billing if I just refer other people and I’m happy with the service. And then all of a sudden going on podcasts and finding partners and all these people wanted to work with us not only because we had the affiliate program because we started to get a good reputation. And then from there it was, hey, we need a software, I can’t be running this company on Google Docs and matching it up. And so we took one of these developers that we really liked from our Amazon business that had built some repricing software. And he built what we called time clock, which was very basic at the time, freelancers could log in and log out and record their time and everything else was still manual. And we just started making more and more upgrades. And I started to go out on the podcast scene. And that’s really how we took off.
Very nice, very nice. I love that story. And boy, what a wonderful company that you created. And one follow up to that I have noticed a trend where somebody will start as an Amazon seller, and they will be very successful in that. And then they will transition into a service based business that services Amazon sellers. And that’s a path that you’ve taken, and so, why is that? Why do you think that happens?
Nathan Hirsch 14:08
So the way that I’ve heard it, I’m not sure I 100% agree with this. But a good way to kind of think about it, I guess, is there more money in digging for the gold? Or is there more money in selling the shovels to the people that are digging for the gold? And it’s a good question. I mean, there’s a lot of people on Amazon that are crushing it. There’s a lot of service providers that have kind of found their niche there. But like I said, I I think I was one of the first 1000 Amazon sellers. And I think I was one of the first 1000 like real Amazon service providers, and it’s kind of exploded since then. And maybe I’m completely wrong about that. But whenever there’s an industry of people that are making good money, like on Amazon, there’s a variety of services that those people need. And if you can find a niche in there, you can build a really good business. And the other side of that is just that whole building that the brand thing. There’s a lot more power in building a brand of whatever service you’re offering then there is of building a brand on Amazon. Although I will add to that from the time we started Free Up to now, the whole building a brand in E commerce is a lot more prevalent. When we started on free up, it was a lot more people selling on Amazon. And now it’s Shopify and building a brand and building an email list. And we’ve come a long way since then. But there’s definitely something to be said about having more control of your business than just hoping Amazon doesn’t change the algorithm on you one day.
Yeah. I like that analogy the shovels and the gold. I also think that, as entrepreneurs, like we don’t have any shortage of ideas, and we see opportunities different than I think other people and but yeah, that is a huge trend. Interesting. So as we kind of wrap up the free up, you know, part of your journey, do you have any outsourcing or hiring tips for you know, someone that’s just starting out? Or, you know, they’re getting overwhelmed? What should they do?
Nathan Hirsch 15:50
Yeah, one of the things that we teach a lot in outsource school is setting expectations. And that’s to me, that’s where most people go wrong. Like, we just hired a bookkeeper for ecom balance. And we set all the expectations from scheduled, to pay, to future bonuses, to future raises, to the fact that they have to be exclusive for us, and they have to drop their other clients. Like we don’t leave any stone unturned, we want to be 100% on the same page, because the last thing we want to do is invest time, energy and money into someone and then realize they can’t work the schedule they need or there’s something that we didn’t account for. And we have a really solid checklist at outsource school that we encourage people to put their VAs through. It’s this extra like 20 minutes of time, that’s just going to save you hours and hours and 1000s of dollars of time and hassle in the future. And there’s obviously other parts of hiring as well. But that expectations is where most people who are hiring for the first time go wrong.
Very nice, very nice. All right, now let’s pivot a little bit and talk about ecom balance. Where was the aha moment there and talk about building that company?
Nathan Hirsch 16:54
Yeah, so I think as a young entrepreneur running an Amazon business, we didn’t really know finances, we had to slowly learn how to do it and do it properly and understand our numbers. And with free up, we really hit the ground running with it, we had clean books from day one, we hired a great bookkeeper, we were on top of billing clients and charging freelancers in every single possible KPI and, and that really helped us doing due diligence, for those of you listening that have sold a company, there’s a trust factor. And one of the ways you build trust with someone buying your company is you understand your numbers and the numbers that you’re telling them on those initial phone calls, match up with the numbers that are actually on the documents and in QuickBooks, or Xero, or whatever you use. And that really helped us and I remember going through due diligence, and it’s a very long process, people, buyers would send over 25 questions, but we would answer them so quickly. And I remember them telling us that no business they’d bought was responding so fast. And most of these due diligence questions are finance or numbers related. And we just had all these at our disposal ready to go. So that really helped us and that was a learning opportunity for us. Post free up, running outsource school, one of our most popular trainings inside outsource school is our bookkeeping formula, which shows you how to have a VA do your books every single month, so that was popular. And then we also started doing consulting, which we learned pretty quickly we didn’t love being consultants, and we love building businesses more than that. But the common theme among all these ecommerce businesses and ecommerce service providers that we consult with is they didn’t know their numbers so we couldn’t make decisions based on their numbers. So we would spend the first month or two revamping their bookkeeping, revamping their finances, revamping the reports they were getting, meeting with them to go over their numbers and understanding every little thing. So that kind of gave us the idea of hey, can we do this and actually provide a bookkeeping service to ecommerce sellers and people in the E commerce space? So we started interviewing ecommerce sellers. This is kind of how we start most of our businesses, we did this at free up too, where we just learn everyone’s pain points. And we would just ask people, what ecommerce bookkeepers do you know? Where do you struggle with with your numbers, all that kind of stuff. And we just learned what that perfect bookkeeping service would look like. And, I think we both realized that there was a market for it and all the past ideas we had about finances, we didn’t love. I mean, we take a lot of pride in our personal finances and stuff like that. But we didn’t want to like sell a personal finance course or all these other ideas we were floating around. So we decided to launch this bookkeeping service for E commerce sellers. We hired a team, we snagged this great head bookkeeper, right here in Denver, Colorado. She was a seller herself. We got her from a retail company, we started building processes, we launched a beta we’re giving out some free bookkeeping to if people would let us go through and give us time and patience to build out our systems and tweak things and figure stuff out, and now we’ve kind of gotten through that and hit the ground running but it all kind of stemmed from from going through due diligence and getting into other people’s books and making changes and, kind of the 10 years of being entrepreneurs and understanding how important knowing your numbers and making decisions on your numbers really is.
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Yeah, so Nathan, I think it’s incredible that you know your background, you know, you have a wealth of experience in E commerce. And now you’re kind of marrying that up with bookkeeping and then providing that service. I think it adds a huge value, having someone with experience in that field. A horror story of mine, when I first started, you know, five years ago, I hired like a brick and mortar like CPA and said, Hey, I’m doing this online business thing. And he was just kind of like looking at it like, okay, and then fast forward six months, I had to go and find an E commerce bookkeeper, and then they had to unwind all the stuff that he did. And so yeah, horror story. So I guess my question to you is, whenever someone’s first starting out, you know, in E commerce, should they get a bookkeeping service day one, or can they wait six months or a year? What is that timing for that?
Nathan Hirsch 21:54
Yeah, and I had the exact same experience, you made me think of the first CPA I fired, which luckily, I’ve had a great CPA for 10 years, and ecom balances bookkeeping right now not tax, but yeah, he just didn’t know ecommerce, and it created a mess. And it wasted a lot of time and money and effort. And we had to redo everything. So it’s funny, but we got there. So here’s kind of my mentality, there are certain things you want to get off your plate, if you’re serious about being an entrepreneur, because most entrepreneurs are only good at like one to three things, and especially Amazon wise, like, you might be good at sourcing products or good at PPC or good at creating listings, or whatever it is, chances are, you’re not good at bookkeeping, and any time that you spend doing bookkeeping, one, it’s pulling you away from the stuff you should be doing that actually grows your business and increases profits and all that. But two, you’re probably not doing it right. And it’s probably just gonna have to get redone later. I know, that was my first experience when I was doing books for my Amazon business, I was a 20 year old, I had no idea what I was doing. And what happened was two years later, I just had to pay someone to redo it anyway. So there are people that are maybe doing it on the side or that want to they have a limited amount of funds, they know what their funds are, and they can’t afford that bookkeeping service. But for the most part, whether you’re hiring ecommerce balance, ecom balance, or you’re hiring some VA to do it, or whatever it is, it’s one of those things, you want to get off your plate early, so you can focus on other things. And you also don’t want to be in that habit where you’re just waiting until the end of the year. And then you’re doing it all and passing it over to your accountant. You want to be getting the numbers at the end of every month, you want to know Hey, did I lose 10 grand last month? Did I make 10 grand this month? If I have five different skews, is this one profitable? Or is this one losing money? You can’t make business decisions just by looking at what’s in your bank account and cash coming in. You have to actually see income statements, balance sheets, cash flows. And if you’re not doing that every single month, or you’re spending five to 10 hours a month, putting it all together, those are things that are going to hold you back as an entrepreneur. That’s my opinion.
Yeah, definitely agree.
So David is actually a CPA. And so it was one of the things where you said like, you can either spend your time on one thing or the other. And so yeah, having you know, especially a CPA, that’s an entrepreneur. And so like, you don’t want to be doing this, you have to be doing two or three other things. So it’s interesting. David, go ahead. Did you have a question?
Yeah, absolutely. So one question that I have for you is on how to use financial statements. So there are probably some listeners that have a bookkeeping service right now. And they get their p&l and they look at net income, and they either smile or frown. What are some things that, as someone is growing and scaling a business, what are some things that they can look at? Or you know, glean decision useful information from their financial statements?
Nathan Hirsch 24:43
Yeah, great question. And this is kind of where I think me not being a bookkeeper myself brings a unique perspective to ecom balance because, and David I’m sure you see this, where the CPA and the bookkeepers sometimes speak a completely different language, then the entrepreneur and the entrepreneur doesn’t get the information that they need to actually make decisions. And I think that’s part of what we can do at ecom balance is making sure the entrepreneur is getting only the information they need to make decisions. So in terms of those reports, yes, you got the income statement, the balance sheet, the cash flow, one of the things that I like to look at is trends, what’s going on month to month? One thing I learned back at Firestone is every year they were comparing today with the exact same day last year, and that might be a little crazy in E commerce, but you can do it month to month. I know, so today when we’re filming this is the 15th, we just got our income statement for my two companies from the previous month. So the month ends, and within 10 days, we gave our team a little bit of extension this month, because we’re doing some stuff, we get our reports. And then we’re looking we’re saying, Hey, how did expenses look compared to last month? For ecommerce, you’d look at cost of goods sold. For different revenue streams, if you’re selling on Amazon and Shopify and eBay, how did each one compare to the previous month? And how did it compare to last year? This is your third busy season, your third Black Friday, Cyber Monday, you want to be able to compare how did that look to go along with Hey, are your expenses going up even though your sales are going up are you able to go have expenses go up at a slower pace? These are, a lot of those comparing and looking at trends has to be part of it. Not just saying, Oh, I made 20 grand this month. Great. Like let’s move on to the next task.
Yeah, no, that’s huge. Like David mentioned, you know, every month we get our statements in and kind of, it should be a great month, it should be a bad thing. But you never really know until you have those documents. And then you’re looking at them. And then you know, just like you mentioned, Nathan, you can make better business decisions when you have the data versus when you’re just operating blindly. So one other thing here, so you mentioned, does ecom balance, do you guys do handle like all the major marketplaces, Walmart, Amazon, Shopify, eBay? And how does that, you know, how does your team get all of that information and manage all that in your statements?
Nathan Hirsch 27:01
Yeah, so we do handle all those we also work with like agencies and people that aren’t selling in E commerce but are in the space, we’ve got some a few non ecommerce clients as well. So there’s tools out there that you really have to use. A2X is a popular one, we like one called Cinder that connects all platforms, they connect like WooCommerce and a few that A2X doesn’t. Honestly, eventually e comm balance is going to be building our own tools that will just be included if you’re a client of Ecom balance it’ll be in there. We have some work to do on our end there. But I mean, what you’re alluding to, and what a lot of people go wrong is they’ll just take the deposit that’s in their their bank account, and consider that their sales when really that’s net sales after a lot of different Amazon fees and stuff that’s going on there. So you need to actually use a tool to pull in those transactions, or there’s a manual way to go through Amazon reports, which I don’t necessarily recommend. But you need to be making sure that you’re getting actual real numbers and not just the net that’s going into your bank account. And every platform is a little bit different. Amazon is the most complicated one. But that’s different than WooCommerce. It’s different than Shopify. And the first thing we do when we onboard a new client is obviously know what marketplaces they’re on. And seeing, hey, do we need Cinder for these different platforms? If someone’s doing like a very low volume in some platform, you might not need it. But you really need that in this day and age and it also helps with automation and helps our team move faster and get more accurate numbers.
Very nice. Well, anything else we want to dig into on ecom balance?
Nathan Hirsch 28:27
Yeah, so you kind of you guys kind of mentioned something. To me, when you really understand your numbers is when you you work a month in your business, and you have a really good sense of what that income statements actually going to look like. And I’m sure you guys have been there, like you guys just completed a month. It’s not like you get an income statement and it’s just blowing your mind. Like how did these numbers exist? Like, where did these numbers come from? Like you have some kind of relevant idea of what’s going to happen, just based on doing it month in and month out. And knowing your numbers and looking at past reports, and being thorough past busy season and all of those things. And that’s kind of the point that where you really understand your numbers. And yeah, there might be like a surprise here or your expense went up or maybe your employees like worked a little overtime, whatever it is. But to me, like you have to understand the numbers of your business if you’re talking to someone, and I’m sure you’ve seen this David as a CPA, if someone when someone walks in your office and they’re telling you about their business, they need to know exactly what’s going on. And it should match what actually you see, when you dig into those QuickBooks. It’s very hard to run a business when you don’t understand the numbers. It’s the blood, the life of your business, and everything else, from the marketing to the sales to all this stuff that’s a little bit more sexy to entrepreneurs out there, it’s all based around the numbers. If you don’t understand it, it’s very tough to do everything else.
Very nice. Very nice. Now one thing, I want to take a step back and talk about e Commerce Industry more broadly, and kind of set the stage for this question. In my hometown, the barber he was the guy that everyone went to gossip. He kind of had like the inside track on what was going on in town, and I have always felt like either a bookkeeper or those involved in the bookkeeping industry, who, like can see behind the scenes, you know, in terms of what’s actually working, like on paper, I’m always interested to ask people in this industry, where are there opportunities in the next three to five years in this industry? What seems to be working? And what may be dying?
Nathan Hirsch 30:25
Yeah, it’s a great question. I’m not sure if I’m the best to predict the future, but I think we’ve seen like the Thrasio’s of the world who are buying up all these Amazon businesses, and I know a lot of people that are kind of in between, do I sell? Do I keep going? And, to me, I’m super curious how that plays out. You have these huge funds, buying up companies in masses, and I know about a buddy of mine, who I actually play poker with on Wednesdays, I’ll see him tonight, works for Thrasio. And they kind of, and I won’t speak for him, but I know they kind of factor in that a certain percentage of these companies they buy are going to do really well, a certain percentage of them aren’t going to do that well, a certain will kind of stay the status quo. And there’s an economy of scale aspect of can they create the right systems and processes that are going to work across the board, from PPC, to bookkeeping, to listing optimization, all this stuff that Amazon sellers do. And how successful these gigantic funds are, I think is gonna decide a lot of the future of E commerce. And I think a lot of people have this given that these companies are just gonna succeed and crush it, and that everything’s gonna go well, and I’m not predicting their demise. But things don’t always work out the exact way that people think they are. So I think that’s one big piece of it. I think growing a brand, which we kind of already touched upon, I don’t necessarily need to go over is huge. The companies that have a following, have a community have a good email list, have influencers promoting them, those are the ones that are crushing it. And then the other trend, which I’m sure you guys know, are just the pay to play. Like by this point, if PPC is not a big part of your business, you’re going to start missing out to people. Amazon’s focused on it. The days of me selling an Amazon and throwing a product up there and getting it to sell our way in the past, especially with Amazon cracking down on review manipulation, although they’ve been saying that for a while now. I think all those are kind of the factors that at least I’m following over the next few years.
Very nice, very nice. I always like to, you’re The Barber of the the e Commerce Industry. And so I, good to get the insight there. So anything else before we get into the fire round?
So one other quick question. So Nathan, like David mentioned, you know, you’ve got a lot of insight with I like to call it peeking behind the curtains. And, you know, my bookkeeper and I have some interesting conversations before. And so this is another question there, not not asking you to predict the future, but more of like trends and kind of what you and your team are seeing, like, we’ve had a lot of stuff in the last, say 12 to 18 months, that is an anomaly of sorts, right? And so with shipping skyrocketing with, you know, more competition, with everything going on, have you seen any trends, like behind the curtains, on the books, with with any of this? And what’s going on there?
Nathan Hirsch 33:11
Yeah, so predicting inventory and predicting cash flow are just 10 times more important than they were even two years ago. I mean, the people that we work with that are on top of their stuff, they know exactly how much cash they’re going to have during slow seasons, they know what they’re going to make during busy season. And same thing with inventory. I mean, you have to get those predictions, right, you have to be able to order inventory to the right place. There’s people that had a worse busy season than they thought because they sold out, or their inventory didn’t show up on time. And who knows how that kind of resolves itself over the next years. But the people that I’ve seen that are struggling compared to success, it pretty much came down to inventory and cash flow predictions.
So you mentioned cash flow. And that’s something that I think a lot of entrepreneurs, especially if they’re doing a good job, and scaling quickly, are going to run into some issues. And so, for any of our listeners that may be running into this, are there any tools or resources out there that help map out cash flow? Especially for an Amazon business, because the payout structures weird, and you know, you got PPC, any resources or suggestions there?
Nathan Hirsch 34:19
Yeah, I mean, there’s a bunch of tools like Chelsea Cohen has an inventory tool, and she’s great in the E commerce space. I’m not remembering the name of the tool. Sorry, Chelsea.
Nathan Hirsch 34:30
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, we’re working on creating add on services for both as part of ecom balance. It’s definitely a work in progress on our side and we’re lucky enough that these are clients that I knew from free up that are ecommerce sellers that kind of have their own really good processes that we’re able to go in and make improvements on, and then hopefully help other sellers with similar stuff. So yeah, and I mean, cash flow is an imperfect science, as you guys know, inventory management can be an imperfect science as well and what works now might not work in six months, depending on how everything goes. So it’s definitely something we’re focused on and we know is important. And there’s different tools out there, depending on what you need.
Cool. So Nathan, before we get into the fire round, so for all the listeners that are out there, who would be a good fit for ecom balance? And who should be calling you and your team?
Nathan Hirsch 35:18
Yeah, I mean, if you’re in the E commerce space, and you want to have a better grasp on your numbers, and you want on time automatic books every single month like clockwork that are clean and accurate, we’d love to chat you can go to ecom balance and book a call right on the site. Yeah, I mean, we’re looking for people in the E commerce space that are willing to give a newer company a chance. I mean, obviously, we haven’t been doing bookkeeping for 10 years or anything like that yet. But we do have a track record of hiring great people and building good processes. And if you want to be a part of that and get first dibs on a lot of really cool stuff we’re creating and have us take care of you as one of our initial clients that we take a lot of pride in, similar to how we took care of the initial free up clients back in the day, we’d love to chat with you.
Awesome, very cool. So if you’re listening to this, and you need a new bookkeeper or you need a bookkeeper, give Nathan and his team a call. Alright, so we’re ready for the fire round, Nathan?
Nathan Hirsch 36:07
Let’s do it.
All right, what is your favorite book?
Nathan Hirsch 36:09
Yeah, so I was thinking about this before when you sent me the questions. I have a lot of favorite books. One of my favorite that I go back to is Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, the book that most people know him for is the four hour workweek. But Tools of Titans essentially his podcast, he took all the best episodes, and each episode is a chapter. So, he’ll talk to different people in the health and wellness space, the business space, the finance space, and just a lot of really good tidbits. I’m a big fan of reading about people that are successful and trying to see what I can take from that. Like recently I read Will Smith’s book, which is pretty much his rise to stardom for nothing, and I learned a ton even though I’m not an actor, and I don’t plan on going into acting, there are certain things that you can take away from books like that. And I always want to learn from the best. So Tools of Titans just had a lot of great stories from a lot of great people in one place.
Awesome. Great book. Great book. What are your hobbies?
Nathan Hirsch 37:02
Yeah, so I’m a big sports guy. I play softball and flag football. I work out daily, I know we were talking about like being a vegetarian, I’ve got a gym in my basement, I just moved to Colorado. So I do hiking and a lot of outdoor stuff, hang out with my friends and dogs and all stuff there. Yeah, that’s kind of it. One cool thing that that’s probably take up a lot of my time going forward is we just got approved to be foster parents. So I feel like my wife and I have been fortunate to grow up in a very supporting family, even though neither of us grew up like rich or wealthy or anything like that, we have had a supporting family, which is a big thing a lot of people take for granted. So hopefully we can get some kids and let them stay at our place and take care of them and provide them a good supporting atmosphere, and stuff that they didn’t have before and help some people out, and that’s something that we’re gonna be really focused on going forward.
Yeah, that’s incredible. Congrats, by the way, too. So, that’s really cool. What is one thing that you do not miss about working for the man?
Nathan Hirsch 38:03
Oh, man, so many things. So I used to have a boss that would just stress me out all the time. Like, every single second I would mess up, I would get called into his office. I would get yelled at if I was in front of a customer. So I mean, the part of just being talking down to or having someone who just feels like they have this weird power over me, that I could do without.
Alright, last one. What do you think sets apart successful ecommerce entrepreneurs from those who give up, fail or never start?
Nathan Hirsch 38:35
So for me, I’m a big proponent of consistency. I mean, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s had the most impact. It’s, I don’t do like huge projects where I’m just working 20 hour days, and I’m just accomplishing tons every single day. If you look at what I accomplished, like today, like I’m going to do a podcast, I’m going to chip away at a project, I’m going to reach out and connect with a few people, I’m gonna meet with my team. It’s small, consistent actions that you’re doing every single day and like podcast outreach, and partnerships is a perfect example of that. With free up and doing it now with ecom balance is, every day I would reach out to five blogs, every day I would reach out to five podcasts, every day I would reach out to five influencers. And four to five of them would reject me or ignore me or respond to me two months later, or whatever it is. But when you’re consistently doing it over and over and over and over, eventually you make progress and you get to be known in a space, you get to be looked at as an expert. And I think a lot of people give up on that consistency.
Okay, yeah. Excellent advice. David, you want to close out the show?
Yeah, absolutely. Nathan, how can people get a hold of you and your team at ecom balance?
Nathan Hirsch 39:40
Yeah, so I’m super easy to contact Nathan Hersch on any social media channel. You can go to www.ecombalance.com. You can book a call with me there. You can check out outsource school and everything we have going on there. My team is super easy to contact. They’re awesome. They’re nice. They were trained by me. I’m easy to contact as well. And yeah, I appreciate you guys having me on and thanks for the support.
Very nice and we’ll post links to all that in the show notes. But Nathan, wanted to thank you for being a guest on the firing the man podcast and looking forward to staying in touch.
Nathan Hirsch 40:09
Yeah, thanks so much. This was a lot of fun.
Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s firing the man podcast. If you liked this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com and check out our resource library for exclusive firing the man discounts on popular e commerce subscription services. That is www.firingtheman.com\resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, for that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at firing the man, and on YouTube at firing the man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer.
And Ken Wilson. We’re out.
Before you go, fun fact for all you Amazon sellers out there, when you start selling in international marketplaces, all of your reviews come with you. At the beginning of this year Ken and I sat down and talked of ways that we could double our businesses in size, and landed on international expansion as our number one initiative this year. We partnered up with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing ecommerce and he has made the process an absolute breeze, walking us step by step through the process. If you want to grow your revenue and reach new customers head on over to www.maximizingecommerce.com/fire and connect with Kevin Sanderson today. Now back to the show.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai