The coronavirus pandemic affected all sectors of the economy in 2020, from movie theaters and nail salons to warehouses and meat processing facilities. Many businesses saw their supply chains interrupted, demand for their products and services decline, shortages in supplies and inputs, and government-mandated closures. The widespread pandemic made Simple SEO Group, Chicago-based result-driven online marketing, and web development service providing company, go through a dip. Though the business was not impacted by COVID-19 directly, rather it was indirectly affected as many of its clients was impacted. As their clients had to close down facilities, operations, and their businesses, the cascading effect caused them to request a pause on many of their services with them. As a result, their business rapidly was in limbo like nearly every other business around the globe.
Fortunately, many businesses were forced to turn to digital as a means of operating during 2020 and beyond since they couldn’t run in person. “While COVID-19 had a short-term negative impact on our business from March through around July 2020, following this, we saw fairly substantial growth. 2021 is going to be our business’ best year since being founded over a decade ago, partly due to our normal growth trajectory. However, this trajectory was accelerated by brands being forced to go digital due to COVID-19,” says Brendan M. Egan, Founder & CEO, Simple SEO Group.
A Man with an Entrepreneurial Bug
Brendan comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His grandfather owned and operated his own successful farm in western Illinois. Brendan’s dad was a successful attorney in Chicago with his own law practice. When Brendan was 10 years old, he set out and started blowing leaves and shoveling snow for neighbors. Not too long into this venture, Brendan was hiring his 10-year-old friends to shovel snow and blow leaves while keeping a cut of the profits for himself. When he was in high school and during his early college years, Brendan became a successful stock day trader.
A few years into trading, he started an educational trading business which proliferated and sold before graduating college. Brendan shares, “In my last year of college, I founded Simple SEO Group, which I have owned and operated since then. The company has grown into a 7-figure marketing agency working with over 500 brands, including numerous startups, fortune 500 companies, and everything in between. While owning and operating Simple SEO, I have also had the opportunity to start nearly a dozen other business ventures. I feel my journey as an entrepreneur continues to grow and is just getting started.”
The level of experience and customer service is what sets Simple SEO Group apart from all of its competitors. Brendan firmly believes that if you are going to do something, you should do it right and in the best manner possible, which he instills in his entire team at every business he is involved in. Brendan explains, “By personally staying involved in every single one of our projects and leading them from start to finish, I can set our company apart from our competitors who utilize a mix of junior account representatives and managers to lead projects that they are inexperienced in leading and don’t have as deep of a vested interest in success.”
While growing his business, Brendan’s biggest lesson was to be selective in who he works with. He has worked with some clients over the years who are not good fits for his agency, and rather than terminating the agreement, they tried to continue to serve them to no avail. “Knowing your value and who you are best suited to work with is a critical skill to have as a business owner. Once I learned and realized this, our growth reached new levels as we worked with clients who were the right fit for our agency. They were willing to compensate us accordingly for the services we provide,” says Brendan.
On the financial side, all the obvious round numbers like reaching USD 100k, 250k, 500k, 1M, and beyond in revenue were all fairly significant for Brendan. “However, more critical than financials, seeing the caliber of clients we work with continue to increase, seeing the size and quality of our team continue to grow, and seeing clients repeatedly come back to us over and over again are some of the more important milestones that stick out to me,” explains Brendan.
A Day in Brendan’s Life
Viewing himself as a leader not just at his company but also for his clients, Brendan personally stays involved in every single one of his client projects, unlike most marketing agencies that just hire account representatives. This allows him to leverage his experience and expertise in every client’s project and lead his internal teams to success for the client and help lead the client and their teams. “This approach, I feel, is what sets our agency apart from our competitors and has led not only us but also our clients to success,” points out Brendan.
Following a pretty structured day to keep himself on track and accountable, Brendan generally wakes up around 6:30 am and immediately reviews emails while drinking coffee until around 8 am. From 8 am-9:30 am, he meets with his teams to make sure they are prepared and ready for the day. Generally, around 10 am to noon, He takes a break to work out. From noon until around 5 pm, Brendan focuses on his tasks and projects for the day and communicating with clients. He adds, “I generally break for dinner around 5 pm and then go back to catch up on any lingering work from around 6 pm to 9 pm. I try to relax and unwind after that, get a solid 7 hours of sleep, and repeat the same thing the next day”.
Brendan doesn’t believe in unplugging. In his 10+ years as an entrepreneur, he has not once been able to unplug for an entire day. “You are the owner and leader of the business, and there will always be problems and issues that come up that require your attention. It is part of the job and comes with the territory. I believe in grinding and hustling each and every single day. The movies that show entrepreneurs out partying all day, well, that just isn’t the reality. For the hundreds of entrepreneurs I know, they don’t do that”, says Brendan.
A Journey of Hustle
Having been approached by high school and college-aged individuals asking for advice on how to progress as an entrepreneur, especially in the technology field, Brendan’s advice is simple: start early and work hard to get ahead of your peers. When many of his friends in college were out partying, he was at his desk grinding and starting businesses. “I always tell young people that if I hadn’t started my entrepreneurial journey at a young age, I might not have started it at all. When you are 30 or 40 years old and have a family, bills, responsibilities, and obligations, it is challenging to risk everything on the dream of starting a business and being an entrepreneur. When you are 20 years old, you really have nothing to lose, and the level of risk is much lower,” he adds.
With his marketing agency currently working on about 50 different projects, ranging from drug website launches for a pharmaceutical company to create an ESG report for the largest electronic recycling company in the US to our day to day marketing campaigns for our recurring clients, Brendan always stays busy and are working on cool and innovative projects. At some of the other businesses he is involved in, one company, Engage, just finished raising large funding round and is focused on rapid growth through digital marketing. Another company he is involved in is about to launch cutting-edge medical software. Being involved in various businesses means there is always something new and exciting going on. “We plan to continue growing our business. We have grown 25-30% year over year for the last 10 years, with the only exception being 2020, when we saw a slight drop in growth. 2021 is on track to be our best year ever. We plan to continue to help businesses figure out how to be successful in a post-pandemic world that will likely remain increasingly digital for years if not decades to come,” concludes Brendan.