We talked to Jason Long of JHMG on the impact of COVID-19 on his businesses.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jason Long: Great! The business has been outstanding during the pandemic, and we are expecting our first child in May. From a business perspective, while one of my businesses in the trade show industry has tanked, the rest couldn’t be better.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded JHMG.
Jason Long: I started my first business at age 14 and have since grown a portfolio of SaaS, agency, outsourcing, productized services, and more traditional businesses since then. It all looks great on paper, and these days we’re in a great place, but it’s been a bumpy road fraught with failures. I learned a ton about building my first agency over the course of about 6 years and then started building much-focused businesses with higher profitability potential in a number of areas after that. If you want to see a list of most of my businesses, take a look at tangentsolutions.net. Only a few businesses are greater than 1MM ARR, but when you add them all up, it is a reasonable amount of money. If June of this year, I was offered a position as General Manager of the 5th largest long-term care EHR system in the US and took that role. My companies had been in a position for a while where I wasn’t really needed anymore, so I decided to try something different for a while.
How does JHMG innovate?
Jason Long: Innovation is built into everything we do. From the people, we recruit, to the products we build, to our roadmap planning methods and customer interaction. There is no one way to explain our innovation, and I could probably write a book on it. That said, I do think that innovation is driven from the top. Our leadership teams are constantly asking their audiences what would make their lives easier, creating measurements and concrete goals for these changes, then implementing and iterating on those goals. Now that I’m thinking about it, there is one other thing; I don’t try to make innovation too complicated. I believe that there are millions of simple things we can do to make the world a better place. In one of my more highly quoted videos, I say, “Build a tool, not a platform.” By just putting simple things together, you can build very successful businesses and create a lot of value. We often build new businesses or features on simple additions that are sometimes customer-driven but always customer approved.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jason Long: Great! One of my most interesting businesses, JHMG, helps funded entrepreneurs and businesses build SaaS businesses or offerings. Everyone has a lot of pressure to move to a digital presence fast right now, so the business has been growing fast. We are also in US-based manufacturing, manufacturing analytics, development tools, outsourcing, and healthcare, all of which are doing well. We are coping by bringing on more qualified people in sales and management.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jason Long: In 2008, the business completely fell apart. We had 3 months straight with no business and had to downsize from just under 30 people to 8 very quickly, skip out on our lease and leave our office in the middle of the night, move what was left into a house that I owned for a year, and begin to recover. Then in 2009, just as things were starting to get better, I got into a terrible car accident where I was in a coma for weeks, broke my spine and pelvis in multiple places, almost died many times over, and suffered from brain damage for years afterward. A year after the accident, the woman I had been with for many years left, which then sent me into a terrible depression. That year, I was hospitalized with a stress-related heart condition and had to make dramatic changes to my life and business in order to survive.
All of it sounds terrible, but that pressure to change and need to innovate out of the position I was in led me to greater success in life than I could possibly have had otherwise. It led me to travel the world, spending my autumns in SE Asia, winters in S. America, summers in Europe, to become friends with billionaires, party on rooftop bars in Bangkok, motorcycle across foreign countries, and live the life I had always dreamed of living, all while leading multiple successful businesses remotely. It led me to find the right woman in my life, and it led me to understand what real success looks like for me. Your question was about the difficult choices and lessons learned. I don’t think I clearly answered the question, but I hope it’s a good start for an interview.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and JHMG in the future?
Jason Long: I don’t get stressed out very easily, but when I do, I usually go surfing, hiking, or travel. I also workout almost every day, eat a mostly vegan diet, get plenty of sleep, and work hard to maintain a great relationship with my family. There isn’t really much projection of myself in the future. I do what I can to live in the present, as tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jason Long: We are in the process of modifying our current businesses to meet the changing times and launching new businesses that solve today’s unique problems.
Your final thoughts?
Jason Long: I look forward to chatting.
JHMG – jhmediagroup.com
Cantata Health, Long Term Care division – netsolutions.cantatahealth.com
CodeWright – codewright.net
MedRev – medrevup.com
Sensible Surveys – sensiblesurveys.com
ADA Compliance Testing – adacompliancetesting.com
Map Dynamics – map-dynamics.com
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