Social media is the best way to get your name out there and really market yourself.
Kevin Brandes is the founder of CargoQuotes, a freight brokerage service provider based in Missouri. A serial entrepreneur, Kevin has been in the marketing field since receiving his degree in Marketing and Communications from Southwest Missouri State University.
With more than 30 years of experience, Kevin brings his dedication to hard work and successful solutions to CargoQuotes on a daily basis.
Where did the idea for CargoQuotes come from?
I am always on the lookout for a new opportunity. I’ve made some great contacts in many fields throughout my career, so when I hear something a few times, it sparks my interest. When I learned there was a serious need for better service in the logistics industry, I really jumped into the research and found a great model that would streamline the logistics for carriers. I knew I could provide it with a higher level of service than many carriers deal with, so I seized the opportunity.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is filled with phone calls and meetings. I spend a lot of time on the phones, following up with current clients and handling any issues that may arise. I am constantly reaching out to new contacts to build new mutually beneficial relationships. Throughout the day, I will meet with my team to check that everything is as it should be, and to see if I can provide any further assistance. It’s a nonstop industry and I love it.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am willing to give anything a try that someone may think would work better. Bring me an idea with the research that shows it’s an effective method and we will get it going. I have a great team, and everyone is on the same page, so when a suggestion comes up, I know it’s coming from a want to do something better.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Last year the trucking industry saw a bit of a downturn. Already this year, it has shown a great growth rate that appears to increase throughout the year. Since CargoQuotes has a variety of services available for our customers, they know they can contact us no matter what or how much they need to ship. I’m excited because I see the potential for us to really expand and grow in the field.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit I have always had is to not just take someone’s word on something. I have always taken the time to really dig in and research something before I put any of my time or money into it. I need to know what I’m getting myself in to. There have been trends in business that everyone has jumped to that ended up not being the best choice. I am willing to take a risk, every entrepreneur is, but I always learn as much as a I can first and conduct thorough due diligence.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself the effort is worth it. Starting out, there are so many hours, so much to learn. I had moments when I wasn’t sure which direction to take. I’m sure everyone does. I would let myself know that the hard work and diligence does pay off.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Diversify; as an entrepreneur, I do not like to have all my eggs in one basket and I like to branch out to explore new and exciting endeavors, where most people will tell you to focus on one thing, I guess that’s where my creativity kicks in because I can’t sit still.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would have to say again, do the research. You really need to understand the field you’re working with. Build solid relationships with the companies you work with. Referrals are still one of the best forms of marketing, so having that foundation with other businesses helps your company as well.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I always look at my competition. I want to know what they are doing, then find a way to do it better. As an entrepreneur, you don’t just provide a good or service, you have to differentiate yourself in order to stand out from others in the industry.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have been in business for myself for over 30 years. Starting and running any business in any field takes the kind of person who is willing to put in the hours. You face different challenges every day, ranging from minor to major. The challenge is learning to manage your time effectively, to provide guidance efficiently, and to reach out to your support network when necessary.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If I were just starting out now, I would definitely focus on anything having to do with the internet or social media. At the moment, social media is the best way to get your name out there and really market yourself.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I think the best recent $100 I’ve spent was for lunch for my employees. It really boosts morale and it gives me the opportunity to speak directly with them in a relaxed environment. I can find out what’s working and what’s not from the dedicated people doing the work daily.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
At CargoQuotes we use Hubspot a lot. It’s a great marketing tool that allows us to track everything we do. We use it daily and I highly recommend others look into how Hubspot can benefit them.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s an excellent view into the working world and how to sell that world.
What is your favorite quote?
Work hard every day is my favorite quote. Be ready to hit the ground running every morning and you will find success. Another great quote that I look at every day is; “It is easier to go down a mountain than up, but the view is best from the top.”
● Do the research
● Work hard
● Build relationships
● Recognize your team
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.