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130: How this former factory worker transitioned to remote sales and earns 100x more with Filip Stankovski

In this week’s episode, we speak with Filip who is a remote sales freelancer and the host of the podcast Remotepreneurs.

A show where he interviews remote entrepreneurs to help anyone build a location independent business.

Listen on to find out how Filip went from earning .50 an hour to becoming a full-time freelancer earning 100X that!

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Show Notes:

Debbie: 

Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining us. I am here with Filip. Hey Filip, how are you?

Filip: 

Hey Debbie! Doing great, quite busy, but doing great. Looking forward to sharing some value to your audience.

Debbie:

Perfect. So before you do that, can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Filip:

My name is Filip Stankovski. I’m from Macedonia, Europe. My first job was in a shoe factory. I was earning around 50 cents an hour. After my first job or the first paycheck, I figured out that if I continue that road, I will definitely go broke. So, I started looking for other ways to earn money. By accident, I stumbled upon sales without knowing that I’m doing sales. And after succeeding in one company and getting awarded, I decided to professionally master the game of sales. Initially, it was a door to door sales, selling life insurance. A lot of rejections in the company that I was working at. It really provided a good education and I just fall in love with the game of sales. And I really invested in mastering the subject, I am still learning about it and training.

Filip:

As I get older, I was really getting better at offline sales and I wanted to build a lifestyle with this company. I kind of started disbelieving the product that I was selling so, I started to suck and all that. I was like the top 10 people in Europe and I was earning really hefty commissions, far better you can imagine than the 50 cents an hour in the factory. I pretty much bankrupt, I didn’t have any money and I was basically in rock bottom for two years. That was like five and a half years ago until I had to figure it out and discover the world of freelancing. So, the skill that I developed in sales, in communication, in presentation, in closing, transitioned to remote sales. So, that’s one of the topics that I can call it.

And now, thanks to my remote sales skills, I travel probably three to four months a year. This year I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand for two months and traveling around Thailand. I was seeing Greece in July and I just came back from Sardinia, Italy. So, I don’t know where I’m going to be for the new year or maybe in the winter. Probably skip Macedonia ’cause it’s quite cold. The reason why I like the lifestyle is that if you have a really good skill, especially in sales or at least know how to sell your skill, you can travel and work anywhere. Although that is a good benefit, one of the important things in being location independent, in my opinion, is to have a backup. If something doesn’t work in your country, you can always go to the next one and just build your income there because some of the countries are unstable. If I stayed in my country, I don’t know, maybe the political climate can change quickly as it was previously. So, it’s not good to build your income in just one country. I run a podcast named RemotePrenuers and I believe that the new entrepreneurs or “remotepreneurs” and the importance of being location independent are going to grow as the year comes. Probably the majority of the people who will be remote.

Debbie:      

Yeah, I think I read an article that said in 2020, which is next year, they’re estimating about 50% of people are going to be working remotely. So, that is a really incredible number to look at because a few years ago, 10, 20 years ago we weren’t even thinking about this type of lifestyle and now here we are, 50% of people are going to be doing this. So, it’s not as hard as people think it is. I know people think it’s kind of like a double rainbow type thing, but it’s really not. And you had a really interesting start to your career fully because you were working for 50 cents an hour and now you have this amazing lifestyle. You’re able to travel all over the world and you’re making a ton more money, well more than 50 cents an hour and now you are able to do this full time. You live the life that you really want to do. How did you prepare for this journey and to make this big change and create this lifestyle where you could be remote? Because there’s a lot of people who think that they don’t have certain skill sets in order to transition.

Filip:  

Let’s say there are two moments when people change. One of them is like a strong will and the other one is a necessity. So, usually, people started to change and make a big switch in their life, usually out of necessity. So, that’s the reason why I stumble upon the remote work and freelancing, initially. As I’ve mentioned five years ago, I, literally, was broke. I didn’t have even $2 in my pocket. So, the turning point that turned my life around and decided to succeed in the remote sales and just change everything that I’ve done previously was the day that I asked my father, I was around 24 or 25 years old, just for $2 and he said to me, “Son, I can give you the $2. It doesn’t mean anything to me but I’m ashamed and disappointed that my 25-year old son has only $2 in his pocket.” And that kind of broke me.

I almost started to cry but he stopped me and said, “Don’t dare to cry. Go man up and find a solution.” So, after that moment I decided to find a solution and I already had the skill. My friend was a programmer and he was selling his services on oDesk – now Upwork. So, I just did the research about it and saw that there are sales positions in oDesk. And after applying maybe a few months, reading on the internet, going through the guidelines that oDesk was giving, I just created my account, my profile, and I just tested a couple of things and because I was committed, I didn’t quit. I didn’t get my first job probably two to three months since initially, I started.

Debbie:  

Yeah, I mean that’s a really hard be humbled, right? Especially for someone who has a lot of self-pride within themselves and to do that, to ask for help. That’s one of the biggest things that’s really hard for a lot of us to do, but I think it’s also a great motivator for you as well, fully. Because if it wasn’t for that moment, you wouldn’t be where you are right now. And if it wasn’t for the struggles that you had gone through, it wouldn’t lead you to where you’re supposed to be. So, it is really hard to go through them. But I think it’s also a necessity to go through them to make that change that you really need in your life.

Filip:  

Yeah, exactly. Hard times create strong men and women as life is not easy and it will not be easier in the future. You just get stronger. So, you do need to develop your mental skills, your job skills, your income skill, and be prepared for the next winter. One of the mentors, at least that I was listening all day, it wasn’t my physical mentor, but I consider him a mentor, was Jim Rohn. One of the things that stuck to me is for things to change, you have to change. And another thing that he said that stuck with me was don’t wish it was easy, wish you were better. There are four seasons in life, as Jim Rohn says, is going to be winter. When it’s winter, it sucks, nothing works. Then, it’s going to be spring, you have a lot of opportunities. Then, it’s going to be summer in your life, meaning you can enjoy it. But if you forget about the winter, again, you’re going to reap what you sow. So, you must change if you want to change your life.

remote sales

Debbie:  

Yeah, there are definitely so many different things that come and go. As you said, it’s good and bad. And I think, for a lot of entrepreneurs and freelancers, we’re all like massive, depressive one day and then like the happiest person the next day because one day we could be like flat broke and then the next day we have like 10 sales in a day and then, the next day it’s so different again. So, there’s always that chance and it doesn’t change that fast hopefully for most of us, but it just happens. As you said, you really have to get used to all of that because otherwise it’s not gonna be good whether you’re location independent or not. There are just those things that happen to you every single day.

Filip:   

Yeah. That’s why it’s important for you not to depend only on one source of anything in life. That’s what I learned from another mentor that I have in sales – Grant Cardone, “don’t depend on one thing, on anything in life.” So, if you want to become location independent, don’t just depend on that one skill, on that one platform or, God forbid, on just one client because something will definitely go wrong when it shouldn’t be. Probably you know about Murphy’s Law – it works like a charm.

Debbie: 

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s always good to remember that it’s nothing is ever set in stone and things can change in a second so, just make sure that you’re prepared for all of that, especially in this type of lifestyle because it’s always changing. It’s always evolving in so many different ways.

Filip: 

Yeah. The technology now and upcoming artificial intelligence might let’s say wipe out your job. So, you always need to adapt. The only constant changes.

Debbie: 

Now Filip, what is the biggest setback you are encountering right now as an entrepreneur?

Filip:

The biggest setback or the challenge that I’m in now is how to scale my company and to work fewer hours and earn more money. I’m currently earning a good amount of money as a sales consultant. Probably it’s a hundred times than my initial job in the factory. I have a lot of projects from freelancing platforms like Fiverr or Upwork. I have a lot of clients that I actually have to cancel them or delaying the project acceptance. So, I’m trying to find the way how to scale it up through people, through outsourcing. That’s one of the challenges that I’m trying to develop now. Like building a remote team, processes, systems, pretty much everything. How to duplicate me, in short.

Debbie:

That is a good problem to have. Right?

Filip: 

Yeah, it’s a good one.

Debbie:

Let’s talk a little bit about outsourcing because I love to outsource and I tell people this all the time, you can’t expect to do everything on your own. If you do then you’re going to be working a hundred hours or more a week because there are so many things to do. What is it like for you, Filip, when you are trying to find how to outsource and trying to find the people to actually trust to do the work that you normally do?

Filip: 

Well, I would say for anything that you’re doing in life, especially even in outsourcing, is important to develop a system or a process so you can replicate many times over. One of the things that I do is prepare the process and the system for the outsourcing or the freelancer that needs to work. I go with him, step-by-step for the one that I qualified and basically I just try to see if that person is going to follow the process and the system and he’s not going to ask too many questions and I pretty much have to guide him through his arms. So, I’m looking for somebody that is resourceful when I outsource. I give him the task, I give him like let’s say like testing, like exercise, pretty much everything. And if he’s a good fit, he goes through like let’s say like a funnel of hiring. I go hire them and I started working with him.

Debbie:

Yeah, that’s a really good way to figure out if that person from the get-go is going to be a great person to work with. And that’s what I’ve done with the people that I’ve used to outsource, is I give them simple or specific tasks first and see if they can actually follow instructions and how long they do it. And if they ask questions, that’s another thing, sometimes they may not know how to do it specifically, but they will ask you the question and how to do it. I would rather somebody ask the question and then do it wrong than they think they know everything and then it doesn’t look good.

Filip: 

Absolutely. That’s why at the beginning before you hire him or if you already hired him, you should go step by step for each let’s say subtask in the project, clearly establish expectation of what is going on et cetera, and just give him the mic so he can do on his own and just test it out. Of course, if he has questions for something that wasn’t covered of course, you are going to explain. But if the same person is asking you like 10 times for the same thing, like how to send an email…

Debbie:

Then you know, that’s not the right person.

Filip: 

Yeah. I mean it’s going to be a waste of time.

Debbie: 

They need to follow directions and they need to listen.

Filip:

Exactly. And I always appreciate resourcefulness, “go figure it out on your own.” That’s the most valuable skill set you can have. It doesn’t matter what services you’re selling.

Debbie:

Are there any specific places that you go to, to find the people that you are going to be working with for outsourcing?

Filip:

The biggest platform that I’m using is Upwork and Fiverr, but before I started with outsourcing, I actually and still use, friends from Macedonia. I did that because I had a little bit of a bad mindset about giving money, giving control to some person that I don’t know. So I just started with my sister initially. I just trained her and I just give her tasks. She’s like my personal VA at the moment but I started initially through friends or referral of friends. I taught them, I pay them a fair share of money and that’s how I kind of develop, initially, my skills of outsourcing. Now, when I’m looking internationally for help, I’m using Upwork. If I want to hire people on an hourly rate, something that is going to be long-term, something similar to a VA, he will perform different types of tasks.

It can be just sending emails, preparing spreadsheets, interviews for the podcast, something around the podcast. So, multiple things that I’m going to pay for an hourly rate, I go to Upwork and if I’m looking for a specific project done, I usually go to Fiverr because they already have a prepared a workflow. I don’t need to manage them, it’s like on Amazon, you just pay, you get it and it’s done. If it’s not repeatable, let’s say like a logo, for example, you don’t need to hire somebody on hourly rates, you can just pay at once and done. The same goes for a website if just only once, you don’t need him like per hourly wage, just pay $500 to $1,000, doesn’t matter and be done with it. So you don’t need to handle it and all the other operations that you need to do when you hire somebody.

Debbie:  

Yeah, and this is also a good lesson for somebody who’s listening to this. And if you’re not at a place where you can outsource yet just listening to Filip’s criteria of who he hires. For somebody who wants to be a VA, make sure that you are following instructions, make sure that you take the initiatives, make sure that you ask questions, but obviously not once over and over again just make sure you’re listening, right? So those are really good tips for somebody who also wants to get into a remote job and they’re just starting out. Now, Filip, I know that your story was when you left your sales job and you weren’t remote yet. You pretty much went bankrupt, right? What was the best thing that you’ve learned financial wise when you finally started to create income? How did you able to save the money and budget your money in order for it to last?

Filip: 

Well, it’s another thing that I learned from another mentor. He said that saving purposes, you need to save at least six months of your usual monthly expenses. So if simple math, if you spend $1,000 per month, save at least $6,000 so it will be money for bad times or how you say in the United States – rainy days I believe. That’s one of the things I learned and always remember that bad times will come. The winter is going to come. So, don’t be a fool. Always save money for rainy days. Another thing I’ve learned, you always need to grow your income and as I’ve mentioned, never depend on one flow in anything in life, especially income.

Debbie: 

Yeah. As a freelancer, one of the biggest mistakes we can absolutely do is just focusing on one and, God forbid, something happens and you lose that, then you’re back to square one or worse. And especially if you haven’t saved anything. I know there’s a lot of people that are going out there and saying, “just quit your job and do whatever it is for time” now, unless you have a lot of money saved, you don’t have any debt or you already are making income from another job, then that is a really bad thing to do. If you want to live life and not go back home and live with your parents or something because that’s definitely what is going to happen. I mean there’s definitely certain circumstances where you get laid off or fired, then you have no choice but you don’t want to put yourself in that position voluntarily.

Filip:  

Yeah, exactly. This is the lesson that I learned from my parents. I come from an ex communistic country; Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia. So both of my parents are highly educated people. Both of them had a high executive position in the company, but when the transition to capitalism came, the factory of 3000 people pretty much was bankrupt and it’s done. So, they end up without a job when I was young and they couldn’t find other solutions. So that’s why you shouldn’t just depend on one income, one client, one platform in your life. Always try to duplicate, at least have two sources of income and obviously, save money.

Debbie:  

Yeah, absolutely. Now, Filip, when you’re traveling around, do you use any specific insurance companies when you’re traveling?

Filip: 

Yeah. We have a local one in Macedonia that I use. I was working in insurance, so they cover pretty much everything. And it’s not that expensive in Macedonia, at least.

Debbie:

Yeah. I mean, for me, as a digital nomad, it’s a really big headache to find the different requirements when it comes to health insurance. One of the really great insurance companies that I use is Integra Global and they have really comprehensive plans for digital nomads and they don’t ask their members to build a plan because we never know what we’re going to need especially when we’re traveling around. You don’t know what’s going to happen, right? So, their insurance covers everything and everything is built-in. And if you guys want to know more about that, you can go to IntegraGlobal.com and you can see all of the coverages that they give and maybe things that you never know you’ll need. So, we’ll all check that out for sure and you should too, Filip if you’re traveling around.

Filip: 

Yeah, definitely. Thanks for the tip. Insurance is always important. It’s preparation for the unexpected.

remote sales

Debbie:

Yeah, absolutely. You never know what’s going to happen. And I think the thing is we’re misinformed with a lot of things especially when we’re young, we don’t know that something is going to happen when we’re abroad. And that’s definitely one thing that I am looking into more and more as I’m getting older and I’m still traveling around. It’s like, “Oh my goodness, you never know.” So, Filip, let’s fast forward to 50 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?

Filip: 

I would definitely like to have an influence over the world in regards to helping people build location independent income to travel the world, not just to make great pictures but to experience different cultures and to see that pretty much we are kind of similar – all of us. So, it’s like trying to remove the borders and nationalities. I believe in the future everything is going to be two individualities. So, I want to build a legacy by helping many people become location independence, prepare their income, just enjoy what they want to do, escape pretty much the cubicle, and never experience the same situation my parents went into when I was young, like depending on one corporation, believing that they will have a retirement and getting screwed. That’s one of the things I would like to leave a legacy.

Debbie: 

Yeah. That’s also really similar in the United States because we all think that we’re going to have our social security and you never know what’s going to happen. That’s why I think it’s really great to be able to depend on yourself and not anyone else just in case something happens.

Filip: 

Yeah.

Debbie:

Now, what are you working on currently that is really exciting to you?

Filip: 

Well, currently the work that is quite exciting for me is building up podcast post-production company. I started my RemotePreneurs podcasts and I saw how many headaches and a lot of work you need to do with post-production. Although podcasting is really cool, after work, it’s painful. So, I asked myself like, “If I’m upset and don’t want to do this, probably somebody wouldn’t like to do that.” So, I developed a system and process how to podcast; produce your sound, your promotion, show notes, pretty much all the small tedious tasks that you would like to outsource and just offering that as a service. And I believe that’s the solution that I’m looking to scale up my income so I don’t have to do everything. That’s one of the things that I got excited about.

Debbie: 

I’m really excited about that too because I outsource most of the things for my podcast now. And before I did that, oh my goodness, I was working all of many hours. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Filip:    

Yeah, I know. You want to quit. You want to burn the mic.

Debbie:  

And you know, after outsourcing all of these things, it led me to so much more hours to actually grow my business and to try to figure out how to make money rather than just putting all of my time and effort in creating content and not really having enough time to market it, to look at sponsorships, and all of those things that we really need to do in order to grow our business. So, that’s a really great business that you have there.

Filip: 

Yeah, I’m building it. I do have good clients that have a really good following on Instagram initially so, definitely something that will grow.

Debbie:

That’s perfect then. So, if our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?

Filip:

I’m mostly active on my social media. Usually Instagram, they can find me at RemotePreneurs, also the website, RemotePreneurs.com. It’s the same as entrepreneurs, just add “remote”.

Debbie:

Perfect. Thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.

Filip: 

Yeah. Thank you for having the time and doing this podcast. I hope the listeners will get some value from it.

 

GET THE EXTENDED INTERVIEW WHERE FILIP SHARES HOW TO DO REMOTE SALES AND WORK FROM ANYWHERE. 

 


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Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith


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