I constantly look for ways to make things more efficient, more cost effective, easier, simpler, and in one word better.
Brendan Egan grew up in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, Illinois. Growing up he always had an entrepreneurial mind and worked to improve upon the ideas of others. At the age of 12, he observed an opportunity to rake leaves and shovel snow, noting that if his prices were lower than the competitors and he was able to pull in a large client base in a small geographical area, he could be more profitable than anyone else. And while a few thousand dollars may not be success in most people’s books, it was more than success for 12 year old Brendan.
Brendan attended high school at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, where he was introduced to a few entry level jobs at fortune 500 companies. He soon grew to realize that his ways of thinking, ideas, and dedication were things that would go unnoticed at an entry level position in a company with tens of thousands of employees, and was glad to learn this lesson early on.
Brendan went on to attend college at the University Of Illinois in Chicago earning a bachelor’s degree in finance with a minor in economics. During this time, he worked with a few partners on launching new businesses via the internet. It was during this time that he gathered a great passion and expertise for online marketing.
In 2009, Brendan started his first company, a trading educational website assisting thousands of traders from 6 continents. During this time he further learned about business processes, running his own corporation, and especially refined his online marketing skills.
Wanting to branch out to help larger clients with his true passion, growing businesses, he started Simple SEO Group to assist small to medium sized firms improve their online presence and grow their business.
Today, Brendan still heads Simple SEO Group and is constantly looking for ways to not only improve his business, but also improve the business of his clients.
When he’s not working (which he says isn’t often), Brendan enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, and kicking back to relax.
What are you working on right now?
What am I not working on right now? I need 3x the hours in a day. Currently 90% of my time goes into Simple SEO Group, a small business online marketing and web development firm I founded about 3 years ago. The other 10% of my time goes into new ideas, brainstorming, and testing. I’m always looking for new ways to improve something, launch something new, or promote something better. I have a true entrepreneurial mind and heart (a pro and con in my opinion)
Where did the idea for Simple SEO Group come from?
It first came about somewhere around 2007/2008 when I was working with a few online marketing agencies on marketing my business at the time. I hired over a half dozen firms to help with simple website changes, search engine optimization, and general online marketing work. After spending an arm and a leg for these services, I felt as if I wasn’t left with any sort of tangible deliverable or results. All these companies seemed to be out to make a quick buck, and given the fact that I had a great deal of online marketing experience just little time to handle the tasks, I decided to take the work into my own hands. After I did it for myself, I ended up helping out a few friends, and then from there decided to turn my knowledge and services into a true business. This was the beginning of Simple SEO Group; to provide the same services as many of these other firms but to do them 100 times better with a result-oriented focus.
How do you make money?
In short we charge for the services we render. To expand a bit more, we generally quote our clients for a variety of services — SEO, PPC, email marketing, consulting, web design, development, and so on — and charge either a flat one-time fee for certain services or a recurring monthly fee for other services.
What does your typical day look like?
To start I try to work Monday through Thursday with a 3 day weekend each week. Sounds greedy, but my typical day is generally 7:30a until 11p.
I start out in the morning responding to emails, which is usually from about 7:30a till 8:15a.
From 8:15a until 11:30a I try to dedicate time towards new clients or leads in the pipeline. I handle follow ups, sending information, putting together proposals, and other information.
I try to take a short 15 to 30 minute lunch break, at which point from around 12 noon until usually 5 or 6pm I work on existing client work, which can range from web development work to SEO to email marketing and everything in between. I try not to do too much of the monotonous work and leave that for my team, but try to have the biggest impact for my clients by checking processes, handling more advanced tasks, and bringing everything together to form a true strategy.
I break for an hour or two for dinner and an evening break, at which point I generally get my mind going again around 7 or 8pm and work on a few other projects. This is my “overflow” time where I have to work on things that took longer, got delayed, or pushed back during the day. This can last for as little as an hour to as long as several hours (I’m known for burning the midnight oil at least once per week).
While I try my best to structure my day, the reality is things always come up and I deviate from this schedule just as much as I follow it. At the end of the day, I make sure I get done what I need to get done no matter what that means for my schedule.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have more ideas than I often know what to do with, which is why I’m a great asset to my clients. However I try to be analytical in my thought and idea process as well. I generally never act instantly on an idea, rather write it down, do some research, and sleep on it for a few days.
The ideas that make it past this stage I bounce off a close nit group of business colleagues, and the ones that survive that I research, research, and research some more.
Then, only the best of the best come to life. I think at the end of the day, if an idea reaches this point a lot of times I have to just give it a try and see what happens.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
In online marketing and web development, I believe things are shifting towards higher quality being the standard which is extremely exciting to me. In the past, online marketing and web development used to be the wild west. Spam was everywhere, site coding was a mess, and there were no industry standards.
Today, as clients become more educated and other influences demand higher quality, we’re seeing a shift towards having industry best practices, standards, and quality guidelines that I think is good for the inudstry as a whole.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
In high school and college I worked at a Sears store. The company had a terrible culture, poor management, no supervision, and smashed employee ideas. I think I learned that not only did I never want to work for a company that even slightly resembles that ever again, but I also learned that in everything I do I want to be the complete opposite of that and build a good, fun culture, have strong management and supervision, and allow ideas to come to life.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Don’t want to sound cliché, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything I’ve done, both the good, the bad, the right, and the wrong, has lead me down the path I’m on, and I look forward to continuing to learn from my mistakes and build upon them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Brainstorm, conceptualize, and improve (it’s one thing, just three processes). I constantly look for ways to make things more efficient, more cost effective, easier, simpler, and in one word better. I think as soon as a business or entrepreneur stops brainstorming and improving they’re dead in the water.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had tons of failures, but I think my biggest failure was selling myself short. When you start a new business, especially if you get started pretty early on in life, it’s very easy to question your decisions, cut your ideas short, and even offer what you offer for far less than “market value”.
I don’t think there’s one moment where I overcame it because it’s something I still struggle with from time to time, but I try to have more faith now in my decision making abilities which comes with time, I try to let my ideas become more than just ideas and implement changes daily, and I try to ensure that at the same time everything we do is not only personally rewarding but also financially rewarding for our blood, sweat, and tears that we put into each project.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I want to make this easy and something that literally anyone can do. Think about the top three things you’re most passionate about. Maybe it’s cooking, maybe it’s gardening, maybe it’s a sport, or maybe it’s something way out in left field. Then go out, buy a domain that describes that passion, and start a simple WordPress blog on that domain.
Every day, write a good, 500+ word blog post on that site about that topic. It’s going to take some time, but after 6-12 months you should be able to grow enough traffic to easily generate a nice amount of side income. You can then sell ad space, guest blog posts, or use affiliate links to monetize the site.
Most people don’t realize just how easy the internet makes it to start any sort of new business, whether it’s blogging out of your basement or starting the next multi-billion dollar corporation.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Don’t want to bring politics into the mix, but I would definitely change the tax environment for new and small businesses. If I had to name one thing that has hindered my business’ growth the most, it’s the tax environment in the United States and for me in the state of Illinois specifically. To change it, I would force government to run like a balanced business. It’s really as simple as that, and while some tough decisions and cuts will need to be made, it’s what needs to be done and it’s what millions of businesses across the US do every single day.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I’m pretty open but most people assume I did well in school, when in actuality I failed a class or two that I had to retake in college and passed a few other classes by the skin on my teeth.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
My whole business is based on the internet, and I can only pick three favorite tools?
Well one of my favorite (and sometimes least favorite) has to be Google. I don’t know where the web and tech world would be without Google; the very makeup of the internet would be extremely different without their search engine.
Second has to be SEOMoz which is a fantastic tool to aid in SEO work.
And third I would pick WordPress, which has helped me grow my business and provide affordable web solutions that are extremely robust for my clients.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, does that count as a book? While I love my clients and work with them all because I enjoy working with them, it’s important to remember that not every situation requires immediate attention at 3 in the morning on a Sunday. I promise, that broken link will still be there Monday morning 🙂
To be honest given the way the internet has changed the world I don’t read books often at all, so it’s tough for me to recommend a book. Give it a few more years and that will be like asking someone to recommend their favorite VHS tape.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Sorry to go outside the box here but it’s what got me to where I am; I think the beauty of Twitter is you can follow people who actually interest you, so aside from the typical responses of celebrities, politicians, or other famous people, I think you should follow people on Twitter who help improve your day through information or through their attitude.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
About 10 minutes ago when I was answering one of the questions in this interview. I think it’s important to approach everything with a grain of salt and stay upbeat and comical at all times. I laugh at myself and at situations multiple times on a daily basis, and I think it helps me get through some of the crazy things I see during a typical work day.
Who is your hero?
As someone who has always disliked history this comes as somewhat of a surprise, but I think my heroes are the people who helped form the United States. For a group to come together some 230+ years ago and put together many of the laws and ideas that still shape our country today is absolutely amazing to me.
How do you recommend small businesses grow using the tools available today on the internet?
It all starts with having a fantastic website. This website not only should look great, but it should function great both on the front end as well as the backend. Once this is in place, it’s all about having great, fresh content that is properly promoted to reach the right people.
Of course there’s more to it than that, but that’s online marketing in a nutshell, and it’s what I do every day to help my clients grow their businesses. I’m not going to promote myself here, but I think it’s critical for small businesses to make sure they work with an extremely knowledgeable partner in their online marketing and someone who works well with them and their business. I’ve seen so many businesses work with the wrong people or try and do things on their own and the outcome is never good.
What’s one thing you recommend everyone live by?
I think that’s simple — to make the most out of their life. That doesn’t necessarily mean having the most fun, being the most wealthy, or traveling to the most places. I think it means having a well balanced life that adds value to the world around you.
Brendan Egan on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/brendanmegan