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035: How to Manage Your Virtual Staff, Pay Them, and Understand their Productivity Levels (w/ Dave Nevogt)

Dave Nevogt is the co-founder of hubstaff.com which helps businesses easily manage virtual and remote teams through SaaS time tracking, project management, and employee development. 

He has founded several multi-million dollar internet businesses since the he was 22, and has been working on them since 2003. His start was in online golf instruction in 2003 which he grew to $1.5Million by 2005. He sold those businesses in 2009, and then purchased and ran a larger search engine optimization software company that focused on link building. 

While building and managing these companies he’s managed over 100 virtual employees/contractors concurrently. He also writes a popular blog series that teaches what his team has done to grow Hubstaff to where it is today. 

Current Revenue streams 

Hubstaff has been generating enough money to pay out the founders, pay employees’ salaries and sustain operations but it doesn’t have one sole revenue stream. The business is currently generating $6 Million in annual revenues from selling its software through a SaaS subscription model. 

Starting out in business 

Worked for 18 months in a large pharmaceutical company in Chicago. After that he only worked on his own businesses. His first business was a golf instruction e-commerce platform which taught people how to swing a golf club better through videos, eBooks and training aids. Within a year, the business was generating $1.5 Million in revenues and had customers globally. The business taught him his first skills in running an online business. 

Scaling up the first business quickly 

Dave believes it was a right place, right time scenario because he picked the right business and the right market. The business was very unique because there were only a few people doing what he was doing. The business’s quick growth was made possible by the high conversion rates the site was getting because he was using very cheap and unsaturated advertising channels like email marketing. Dave then sold off half of the business. 

Transition to the next business  

In the course of selling his business, Dave met one buyer in particular who used to buy underperforming ecommerce businesses, turn them around and sell them for a profit. Dave and the buyer bought a software related company together. With Dave managing its operations, the business started generating $2 Million in revenues from selling content. That gave him hands-on experience in running a software related company. They eventually sold off the business. 

He also started Hubstaff while still running the software company. He currently runs the marketing and operations side of Hubstaff while his partner runs the technical (development) side of the company with each of them working with a team of 10 and 12 employees respectively. 

The Hubstaff idea 

While running the golf business, Dave was in dire need of software that would help him manage his technical staff since he had no technical knowledge and therefore needed to make sure he was effectively tracking their performance to ensure projects were being done on time and in the expected way. 

That need gave Dave the initial idea of developing Hubstaff. He was also inspired by the need to develop a product that would give value to people, that they would use every day in their businesses. Hubstaff uses time tracking to enable business owners manage their virtual and remote employees by ensuring they are doing what they are expected to do at the right time. The software also acts like an activity tool. 

Once he came up with the idea for Hubstaff, Dave looked for a local co-founder. They both invested $26,000 each into the start-up and started the development of the first applications which cost about $40,000. They invested the remainder of the capital into advertising and building traffic for the app. They initially launched the app on free trial basis in order to test the market and once they discovered that it was a highly viable product they launched it in August 2013. Immediately after the launch they were making $2,000 a month in recurring revenues and kept growing to reach $15,000 a month in recurring revenues within 15 months. At the end of 2015, the business was generating $70,000 a month in recurring revenues which has so far grown to the current $130,000 a month. 

Growth strategy at the beginning 

Dave and his partner first employed free trials in order to leverage on word of mouth as a marketing tool. In the long run, that method didn’t work very well in generating solid referrals so they had to devise a better strategy. They started developing landing pages and applying search engine optimization while also posting ads on popular websites and directories which paid off on in the long-term. 

Growth strategy now 

They currently use their extensive blog (drives 15% to 20% of users to Hubstaff), multiple landing pages, on-page search, minimal advertising, word of mouth, and podcasts. They do not have a sales team and don’t use techniques like cold calling and email marketing.  

Importance of a team 

Dave doesn’t believe in having an assistant because he believes in doing his work himself. 

Fear of failure 

He does not have any fear of failure. He always goes for it and does what he feels is right from his business point of view. He has had several businesses and products in the past that failed which taught him to always analyze the pros and cons of an idea to determine its worthiness before going into it. 

Biggest breakthrough in business 

“Realising we were onto something with Hubstaff and people would pay for it; and getting to a point where Hubstaff would run itself.”  

Faith, Fun, Family, Family and Friendships 

Faith, family and friends are at the top for Dave, then finances and fun. 

A day in life before Hubstaff Vs. a day in life now 

When he started out he was trying out a lot of ideas to try and come up with a viable business that would work in the long-term. It was more about surviving at that time. 

Today, he focuses on one business and applying his experience into making sure the business continues to grow. He still gets up as early as he used to since early morning are when he does his best work. He also works normal hours.  

Mentors 

He doesn’t have mentors but deeply believes in the importance of having mentors especially when one doesn’t know exactly what they want to do. 

Book recommendation for entrepreneurs:   

  1. Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back – Verne Harnish  
  2. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less – Perry Marshall 

Legacy: 
To provide for his kids, raise them the right way, and try to help the world as much as he can through his technology products – Dave.   

Best way to connect:
dave@hubstaff.com – Dave’s Email
@dnevogt – Dave’s Twitter Handle
blog.hubstaff.com/grow – Dave’s Blog 

Get Your Hopes Up and Maximize Your Dreams [Symbol] 

Cheers,
Davis!

About the author, Davis

My Dream of sharing inspirational success stories started many years ago and this Podcast is an amazing show that brings some of those conversations to light.

This show is dedicated to being a voice of encouragement to you because I believe God created you and I with a purpose to fulfill and I want to be here to cheer you on through this Podcast, our Blog and through our other channels of interaction via our comments section after each Podcast and Blog as well as on social media.

I love business and entrepreneurship and I truly believe you have greatness inside of you 🙂