Eight years ago Jason Wachob was physically crippled from a business venture that went bust.
“I flew 150,000 miles coach in a single year for my last start up company,” Jason said in a recent interview. “When you’re 6’7”, that’s torture.”
By the end of 2006, the former Columbia basketball standout’s business had tanked. He had nothing to show for it but two bulging disks in his lower back.
“It was excruciating pain. I literally couldn’t even walk a block,” said the New York City dweller. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Every doctor told Jason he needed surgery. “As an afterthought, the last guy said, ‘Oh, you might want to give yoga a try too.’” Jason had to laugh here. “So I started light yoga for 15 minutes in the morning and evening. Within six months, I was completely healed.”
After the yoga cure, Jason looked into sleep, nutrition and exercise for more healing. Then the MindBodyGreen concept came to Jason in an epiphany.
“Every other site was talking about self-help, or weight loss, or meditation. But nobody was talking about all of it combined. Living your best life is a blend of mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and environmental wellbeing. And it’s all connected -- MindBodyGreen. One word, not three.”
Since nobody else was talking about holistic health, Jason saw his opportunity. Wachob launched MindBodyGreen.com in 2007 from his Manhattan apartment. The site currently has 15 million monthly visitors.
“My wife worked on the weekend, but I went all in. It was a real passion point -- there was just nothing else I could see myself doing.” And it all started with one post per day.
“I was really curious, and smart enough to know I didn’t know everything. So I reached out to all these yogis and doctors and nutritionists, you name it.”
As the interviews piled up, Jason started posting twice per day, then three times. Within months, experts were asking Wachob to guest post.
“They told me they were tired of writing for Huffington Post, that they wanted to reach a different audience. And that’s how the community started. Today we have 4,500 plus contributors around the world.”
MBG has a world-class contributor network, but Jason never asked a single person to write. Instead, he advises people to focus on the basics.
“Do the ground-work, “ he said. “Do what you love. Find an untapped niche that your passions, talents, and experiences can fill. Then do it because you love it. Go all in. Connect with people in the interest of gathering and sharing valuable information. Then work your ass getting that value to your audience. When your business is ready to grow -- when you’ve done the groundwork --people will come to you.”
But to do the groundwork, to get people to come to you...it's easier said than done. Jason shared five tips to help you get started.
1. Focus on quality
“Get yourself everywhere -- be on every platform. Then produce quality content. Go for quality, then up the quantity as you grow. You can’t post 6,000 articles overnight. It takes a while. It took us three years.”
2. Do it for the love
“The most successful people in the world aren’t in it for the money,” says Jason, citing people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. “After you have more money than you can spend, you do it for the love or you’ll crash.”
3. Always have the ability to pivot
“Have your vision, have your plan, work your ass off,” Jason advises. “But at the same time, have the ability to step back and say, ‘this part isn’t working.’ It’s a blend of effort and mindfulness. A successful business is always evolving, always changing. So if you can change with it, if you can pivot, you have hope.”
4. Be wary of raising capitalWachob warns against raising capital in the early stages of your website.
“It helps you scale and grow your business. But on the flip side, if your business isn’t ready to grow, capital just magnifies your problems.” He advises streamlining your company as much as possible before accepting cash.
“It’s a lot easier to steer the ship when you’re nimble,” Jason says.
5. Figure out your reason first
“I was part of three startups that failed before MBG. You need to ask what’s your motivation. Then ask harder questions: What problem am I solving? Am I doing this for creative or financial freedom? What am I really trying to do? Get behind the why of your site.”
“If you’re starting a business for creative freedom, maybe you shouldn’t raise capital. The moment you take that first dollar, you have someone looking for a return on their money. So stay lean for as long as you can, and definitely long enough to find out what you’re about as a company; what you can and cannot tolerate; what your values are. Figure that stuff out first.”