After witnessing his mother’s journey in surviving stage-4 cancer and experiencing his own health transformation as a teenager, David was inspired to follow a career path in holistic health. His first entrepreneurial venture, Acne Erasing Secrets, continues to provide natural acne clearing remedies to thousands upon thousands (currently his YouTube channel has over 10,000 subscribers and 2.3 million views).
Today, he focuses on providing holistic health education to his wide audience and ever-growing fan base in the form of articles, podcasts and videos through his content-based business, Healthy Wild and Free. He also happens to be one of the most approachable, down-to-earth people we’ve met. His interview inspires us to invest in ourselves, create a solid routine, and clean our messy desks.
What inspired you to become a holistic entrepreneur?
Quite a few things! In high school my mom gave my brother and I Kevin Trudeau’s “Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About” audiobook on CD. We listened to it with a friend out of curiosity, which led me to see the whole medical and world of health in a new light. My mom was already a stage 4 Colon cancer survivor (and is still alive and healthy to this day) and has a holistic health biofeedback practice of her own. Her journey to heal from cancer along with many other health challenges led me to be inspired and take a similar path and grow an affinity towards that mission in my life as well.
My older brother was also born with a birth defect because of a pharmaceutical drug (Accutane, which is now off the market) and this had a lasting impact on me. One decision that my mom made as a teenager to take a drug for acne forever changed my brother’s life. I have seen what damage the pharmaceutical industry can do and know that there are many other holistic and natural solutions that can be used first and foremost.
I was also inspired by my own story. I had bad acne as a teenager and my mom helped me clear it up with detoxification protocols, herbs and natural skincare products. This led me to create my first online holistic venture which was a YouTube channel and website called Acne Erasing Secrets to help others who suffered from acne to clear it naturally and in a sustainable way.
Tell us about your business or practice.
Right now I produce holistic health content in the form of articles, videos or podcast interviews that I publish on my blog, YouTube and iTunes. This is an education-based business model. I also produce green-living and spiritual/wisdom based content because I feel these are important parts of life that can be explored further.
What is your current business model?
Currently my business model is based on advertising revenue. I have ads from several advertising networks on my website and these ads monetize the content that I create. I also promote health products that I believe in (supplements, essential oils, skincare etc.) that I use personally as an affiliate so earn commissions off these sales as well.
What has been one of your favorite moments as a business owner thus far?
It’s tough to say! With my work helping people clear acne on AcneErasingSecrets.com it’s rewarding because I get emails with people grateful and happy that their skin is finally clearing after they’ve tried everything and nothing else has worked. I really like that I have the ability to help a specific group of people with a specific problem and that my specialty in holistic detoxification for skin health has helped so many thousands of people.
Another moment that was very cool was an article I wrote called “This is what happens when you put cut up onions in your socks while sleeping” which went viral and basically crashed my server with 138,000 pageviews on my website in a single day. The article was picked up by everyone and seen by millions of people and a picture of my foot with an onion halfway coming out of my sock was probably seen by upwards of 5 million or so people in the span of just a few weeks. It was a humorous time and cool to see that a simple home remedy could get so much attention.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in running your business or practice?
Overcoming my own fears to take bigger steps. I think that any entrepreneur has fears of doing (or not doing) something. This stunts our growth and I know that my mission, vision and overall brand can grow faster if I take specific steps that I have yet to do.
Beyond overcoming fear I’d say that laser focus is the second biggest challenge for me and many others. If you overcome your fear you can then take action and make progressive steps to your desired outcome. You need focus to take that newfound faith and boldness to the market though. Being focused on just growing what you’re working on for even a short period of time (3-6 months) can show you how much more potential you have than you thought you had. In other words, your potential is greater than your current vision of your potential simply because with your current awareness and mindset everything is limited. As you grow in your faith and boldness and step into what you know you’re supposed to be doing in a laser focused way you’ll find that doors will open and things will manifest faster.
Thirdly, I’d say that helping yourself before you help others is crucial. I’ve coached a lot of entrepreneurs and worked with educational, health and fitness brands and developed my own products all in an entrepreneurial environment. Through all of this I have learned that I’m great at helping and supporting others but not so great at doing those same things for myself. You have to put yourself first, because you are the source of your practice. If you are not healthy and if you are not whole how can those you help to facilitate healing become healthy and whole? I’ve learned this from my mother as well. In her practice at one point she would just give product to people who said they would pay later only to realize months or years had gone by and she had given away thousands of dollars in products to multiple people. These people were ‘friends’ that took advantage of this. If you continue draining yourself and your health to help others heal then you will burn out and not create a sustainable success story which you deserve if your heart is in the right place.
How have you overcome those challenges?
I’m in the process! I’m learning to overcome fears and take bigger steps and actions towards my big-picture vision. I’m also learning to create harmony in helping others while helping myself and my work simultaneously.
How do you find new clients?
I don’t have clients in my business per-se right now but when I did focus on getting customers I have successfully used YouTube, Facebook and blogging. For those that have offline holistic practices I highly recommend networking with local holistic practitioners of every kind (chiropractic, massage, biofeedback, reiki, etc., etc.) and to let them know who you are and what you do. Having a website (I recommend a wordpress blog) as well as a Facebook page and a YouTube channel are a great start.
If you’re good at what you do your first few clients will spread the word about you attracting new clients by word of mouth. My mom’s practice is completely fueled by word of mouth. She spends nothing on advertising or marketing and doesn’t utilize the internet because she is already busy enough!
What have you found to be most effective in securing new clients to sign up for your services?
With my work when I do help people one-on-one with health challenges I find that caring and listening intently with an open-heart is crucial. If someone feels you don’t understand them, their pains and struggles then they will look elsewhere for health. You’re running more than a business.
What do you do to keep your existing clients engaged in the long term?
I love this question! Because everything I do online is about engagement and keeping people coming back for more information. Using online tools such as YouTube, Facebook, a blog and email newsletter are great for long-term engagement. These tools keep you in front of your clients (and potential new clients simultaneously) which is very beneficial! If you show your clients how you are learning and growing in your profession they will want to see you more often. Being active online and in social media allows you to be a holistic leader in your local community.
As your own boss, what is your best strategy for staying focused and productive during your workday?
Cut out all distractions! I often turn my phone on airplane mode and turn on music that get’s me into a flow-state and go to work. I work alone at home so things in my home can be a distraction at time also so creating a space that has a work-flow is important. I also think creating a healthy routine is crucial. I start my day with water, nutrition and when my brain gets going my body follows suit.
If you could start your business over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
Great question! I would say without doubt or hesitation that the biggest change I would make is to invest more into myself. I have bootstrapped for much of my entrepreneurial career and have done well but I know now that if I were to put my money where my mouth is (and where my beliefs are) that I would have a lot more success at this point. Case in point, this year I invested more money into my website than I have ever with any other website up until this and so far this year (as of May 2015) I already have had my best month in my whole career. I believe that when you put money into things you not only have a greater chance at succeeding because you have money (a form of energy) working for you, but you are also more dedicated because now you have a higher vested interest to see it through.
What were some of the first mistakes you made that you would tell a new holistic entrepreneur to avoid?
Not investing enough into myself and my vision. If you want to start a holistic practice or holistic business of any kind it WILL take a lot of energy, hard and smart work and money. Be prepared to invest everything into it to see it succeed. You can’t put 50% or 25% of yourself into it. You have to be all in to ensure that it has the best chance at succeeding and succeeding at the highest level.
I find that this may be hard for some people at certain points in their life. As weird as this sounds if your home or car is messy, disorganized and needs to be cleaned you probably have some work to do in your personal life before you can see it professionally. The thread of how you do things in your life runs through the whole sweater and if you want your business to succeed practice first by giving 110% in your life in everyday tasks. This will build a habitual craving for excellence in everything that you do which will come in handy and valuable as an entrepreneur.
What are the top three business tools or resources you couldn’t live without?
A website! It’s 2015, you really need to have an online presence and use it to your advantage. You use this to create engagement with current clients and to reach new clients. If your client list is 100 people and these 100 people are local how many of their friends and family members do you think may also be interested in your services? Being on Facebook and YouTube and reaching your immediate client base is crucial because they are your source for new clients.
Facebook and YouTube I have found invaluable, they are both free and can be used to your advantage in multiple ways! YouTube actually has a monetization program that pays you just by putting videos on YouTube. You can have ads on your videos and you won’t earn much but it is a way to reach clients and earn a little residual income which is nice.
Email marketing is also very valuable. Generally speaking people paying for holistic services of any kind are older and may not use social media as much but most have an email address. I use an email autoresponder called aweber and it’s $19 a month and a first month trial is $1 at emailmyreaders.aweber.com. You can have all of your clients on an email list to email them specials, coupons or promotions of any kind.
What has been your most effective method for growing your business?
The internet and digital mediYou can reach everyone in your local community (and almost the entire world) almost instantaneously with the internet. Your potential can exceed what you can do individually. At the same time if you have an offline holistic service based practice I believe that you need to get off the internet and network. My mom’s practice gets client referrals from her local chiropractor and other local health businesses as well.
In building your business, was there any specific mistake you made, “oops!” moment, or “I can’t believe I did that!” time that you look back and laugh at now?
Sometimes I speak my mind a bit too much and there have been a few times where I think it would have been best to just move on from a conversation. Nothing too serious but some people get offended when they hear opposite viewpoints of their own and these people typically are not worth spending time on. Arguing gets nowhere! I’ve learned to not spend anytime trying to argue someone into my belief corner and to just peacefully share what I feel or believe and move on unattached.
By far the funniest thing though was the onion in socks article on HealthyWildAndFree.com, I had jokes for days with it about how I should start a a foot fetish website and how most people are good at getting their faces out there (for their business) and how I was good at getting my foot out there.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Dark chocolate and kombucha! (ohh, and Costa Rica… pura vida!)
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
Soursop fruit, Lychee fruit, Starfruit… And well I’ve had quite a few herbs from the Amazon rainforest that I consider ‘tropically exotic’ ha! Or something along those lines.
Most memorable place you’ve ever visited?
La Fortuna, Costa Rica (and CR in general) Mackinac Island, Michigan.
I have many travel desires still! To visit the Dead Sea, The Bosnian Pyramids etc.
Last book you read?
Zero To One by: Peter Thiel (a book on startups)
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Oh boy! I don’t know how to answer this one! Can dark chocolate be an answer? Haha!
What is your go-to breakfast?
An Organic Omelette or a fruit smoothie!
What do you find most fascinating about the human body?
The similarities of our human biology being connected to the earth. It’s fascinating to me that our water content is almost the same as the earth, and so on.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
The freedom it provides. Being able to work when and for me where I want. To have time and location independence.
David Benjamin is a Holistic Educator and Entrepreneur based out of Detroit, Michigan. You can find out more about him and his business, Healthy Wild And Free, at www.HealthyWildAndFree.com