Matt Barrie is an award-winning entrepreneur, technologist and lecturer. He is Chief Executive of Sydney-based Freelancer.com, which is now the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace connecting over 1.5 million professionals from around the globe. In 2011, he was named BRW Entrepreneur of the Year.
Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, Barrie has experienced his fair share of ups and downs. In this Q&A interview with Alex Pirouz he explains how a vision much bigger than yourself can make it easier to push through times of uncertainty and hardship.
Q. The main asset of what is now called Freelancer.com was launched in 2004. It wasn’t until 2009 that you took over. How did you build the brand after that so quickly?
“I started purchasing outsourcing sites all around the world, ranging from thousands of users to hundreds of thousands, and put resources behind them such as an engineering team, marketing team, etc.
“I had to see if it was going to be a good fit with the existing websites, if the price was right and if there was something compelling and unique that was going to add value to our existing infrastructure.
“In doing so, two years ago we were placed in the top 5000 biggest website and now we are 240th globally, our users have grown from half a million to 2.5 million and in April 2011 we reached one million projects being listed on our site.”
Q. In your opinion how important is it to recruit the right staff?
“One of the biggest challenges business owners face is finding the right people. When you hire A-grade people, in turn they attract more A-grade people to want to work at the organisation. So essentially I look for someone who is A-grade and is able to fit into our culture.
“You only need to look at Google, Facebook and other big companies to notice that people are drawn to them because of their work culture and the people within their organisation.
“In striving to be the best in the industry and one day the eBay of services, we have not only been able to attract the right talent but it has also given staff the drive and motivation to always want to expand and look at ways to improve so we stay ahead of everything.
“Whilst some entrepreneurs want to know and control everything within the business, a good manager of a business will hire people smarter than him and delegate certain roles to those people. By getting boggled down with the daily duties and tasks they will never have time to build the business.
“Find people who are better than you and give them that job. If you don’t delegate, you will never build a big company.”
Q. What is the biggest challenge facing entrepreneur’s today?
“Starting is what I believe to be the biggest challenge. For people to transition out of work and go out there and take a risk is the toughest in my eyes. 60% of people think about starting their own business but only 5% do. Getting going is the toughest.
“If you are thinking about starting something, go and do it. It will be one of the most rewarding and challenging things you can do in your life. Just make sure you remain focused, don’t become complacent and always look to be growing as a company.”
Q. As an entrepreneur what drives you on a day to day basis?
“I want to forge my own destiny whilst changing the world. A massive business has never been built in Australia, you have Facebook and Google but nothing has ever been done here so I want to be the first one to do that.
“It can be very tough and you wake up some mornings and think, is this going to be as big as it is, its potential?, and you do have some doubt. Every company has its ups and downs; you just have to persevere, execute, execute and execute. That requires a lot of focus and you just need to push through.”
Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with the top 1% of Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their sales revenue. (Visit www.ridc.com.au for more details)