Building a Business with No Shortcuts with Brendan Egan

July 7, 2020

Brendan Egan is a serial entrepreneur who focuses on leveraging his experience in development & marketing to create new technologies, disrupt existing industries, and make an impactful change in people’s lives.

During the market crash of 2008, Brendan became a successful day trader, growing a personal trading fund. In 2009, he launched a digital trading education company, LearnToTrade, which was the highest rated and most purchased price action trading course on the market. He also worked with hundreds of traders from around the globe offering one-on-one consulting. He later sold the company in 2012, a year after graduating from college.

Brendan also founded Simple SEO Group which he still owns and operates today. Simple SEO Group is a Chicago based digital marketing agency, offering website design & development, mobile app design & development, digital marketing campaigns (including SEO, PPC, email marketing, CRO, & social media management), and consulting.

Brendan is also the co-founder & CEO of The Marketing Masters, a digital marketing agency offering full-service marketing campaigns. The Marketing Masters has offices in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Through the two agencies, Brendan has worked with over 500 clients ranging from startups to fortune 100 companies, and has earned a reputation for delivering results-orientated, ROI-focused campaigns for each and every client.

In 2015, Brendan and long-time friend & business partner John Shegerian launched B.J. Industries, a startup investment company & incubator which is involved in dozens of startups.

Brendan is also co-founder & CMO of Engage, an online platform disrupting the talent & entertainment booking industry.

In 2019, Brendan will be publishing his first book, “101 Tips From The Marketing Masters“, which will focus on providing actionable tips & tricks for businesses looking to improve their digital marketing.

John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact! podcast is brought to you by the Marketing Masters. The Marketing Masters is a boutique marketing agency offering website development and digital marketing services to small and medium businesses across America. For more information on how they can help you grow your business online, please visit themarketingmasters.com.

Welcome to another edition of the Impact! podcast. I am John Shegerian I am so honored today to have my business partner Brendan Egan. He is with us today joining the Impact! podcast welcome Brendan Egan.

Brendan Egan: John thank you. I am honored, humbled and excited to be on and to be one of your earliest guests and I think we are going to have a lot of fun today. So thanks for having me.

John: We are and just as a little bit of truth in advertising for our listeners out there. Brendan does all the marketing for ERI, a recycling company under his other brand name company simple SEO another great brand company that Brendan is co-founded and is the CEO of and he is my business partner and the CEO of the Marketing Masters. So Brendan, I want you before we get into the Q&A part of this discussion, share a little bit you are very young and massively successful for your youth and you have accomplished so much. Can you share a little bit about your background and your journey from just starting out of school to where you are today and how you got to such a position of success?

Brendan: I appreciate those words on I think there is a lot of people that are far more successful than me, but I have been fortunate enough to find a lot of success as you mentioned at a young age and I think it really comes down to just putting your head down, doing hard work and grinding through and scaling the things that work and cut the things that do not so I was born and raised here in Chicago in the suburbs and was fortunate enough to go to some great schools, meet some great people but when I was 10 years old and all my friends were out playing video games and enjoying themselves my very very first business they started going door to door and my neighborhood and knocking on doors and I started a company that raked leaves and shoveled snow and you know started doing that myself at first and it started to grow beyond what I wanted to do so I had some of my friends working for me. So literally I started very very young in terms of entrepreneurship, I would not call that a true company but it was something that really got me my first flavor of what it is like to have a business, to run a business. Fast forward a few years John and I during the great stock market crash of 2008 I started day trading. I very vividly remember I was sitting in the bedroom of my mom’s house in college and I was watching my tube television of all the different traders that were pull their hair out as the market was crashing and just losing their mind and just the way that my mind thinks I said to myself, ‘hey, I that is something that I have always been interested in I bet I could do it I bet I can make money doing this’ and you know fast forward a year or two and I became pretty successful at that made a decent amount of money for a kid that was in college. In 2008 later in that year, I founded a company that I called learn to trade. It was a company where I wrote an eight hour long video course that taught other people how to trade in the markets how to be day traders and swing traders. I also did consulting with that company. In 2012 I ended up selling that company and the reason that I sold it is kind of interesting. So we actually became incredibly successful, we had first page google rankings for all the major keywords, we had wonderful advertising campaigns running and the reason for that is that I tried to hire probably six or seven different companies to run our marketing and every single one of them were the slimiest biggest rip offs in the world some of them were based in California, there were a few base in Chicago I hired one that was based in Australia and they all did terrible work for me they all got rich off of me and you know charge us thousands and thousands of dollars per month and we saw no ROI so I started doing the marketing for that company in house I built my own in-house team for that and before I knew it I had friends, family and colleagues asking me ‘Hey, can you help me with my marketing, can you help me with my SEO can you’ you know I have had the same experiences that you have had and your company is incredibly successful in those areas. So after I sold the company actually before I sold Learn to Trade, I started simple SEO and then once I sold that company, I really full time started focusing on scaling and growing simple SEO and as you know, John a few years later, I was fortunate enough to meet you and we became partners and launched our own agency the Marketing Masters, which is also been incredibly successful. So that is kind of how I got there and you know really over the last decade my biggest focus has just been running the agencies and scaling them, working with all of our wonderful clients and getting them results and continuing to grow our marketing companies.

John: So I hear the theme then Brendan of just your absolute hyper-focus, hard work and not a lot of shortcuts.

Brendan: I do not think there is many shortcuts in the world. I think that every now and then John we get lucky as you know and we find maybe something that somebody else did not stumble upon or we find something that temporarily gets us a huge advantage but at the end of the day, I think if you are in business for the long run, which all of us should be. I do not think there is a lot of shortcuts, I think it is really a lot of wake up every day with the right attitude, with the right approach, roll up your sleeves and get the work done and whether you are doing the work yourself or if you have a team of five people, five hundred people, five thousand people, it does not matter you need to be a good leader, you just show them that hey you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work and you know, John you and I have had many phone calls at midnight and then we have had many phone calls and next morning at 6 a.m. again, you know so you and I both know that there is really no shortcuts and you really just need to put in the time and if you do the right things with the right people and put in the time put in the work, I think you are going to find success in the world of business.

John: I love that. In terms of mission your core mission, what drives you to do what you do every day?

Brendan: I think all of us in the business world in some way are driven obviously by money. If we were not making money, I think it would be much harder for us to do what we do but I also like doing things John as you do I know that make an impact and so what a fitting name for your podcast impact, I love that word impact and I love doing things that make an impact in some way in someone’s life and in the world and so that looks different for different, you know projects different things, you know, John obviously, we are partners and engage which is a wonderful business for booking speakers that we have some young great partners, Daniel Hennas, Jake Olson, Michael Olson, Noah Schwartz, you know for those that do not know Jake story, Jake was on John’s podcast a few episodes ago and I recommend listening to that Jake was the first blind, NCAA football player and so you know when the opportunity for engaged came along, I felt that we could not only make an impact in that industry and grow a successful business but you know, we could also help make an impact in some young lives or some kids that you know, really have good heads on their shoulders that had a great business concept that you know, we are struggling to figure out how to scale it and how to make it work and we are struggling to figure out what they were going to do when they graduate to college. So, you know in that regard that excited me and made an impact there. For other clients, you know, I we have tons of clients as you know, John that are in much more boring industries and so maybe making an impact just means ‘hey, let us find them a ROI, let us find them a marketing strategy that works for them, let us find them something that can impact their business and so you know, one of the fun exciting things that make about being an entrepreneur is that your mission can change but at the end of the day your two core strategies and missions are making money and for me making an impact in businesses and in people’s lives and hopefully in some way impacting the world to make it a better place.

John: I love that and is these not these nothing to be embarrassed about to say that you are in business to make money we live in one of if not the greatest country on the planet in terms of innovation, entrepreneurship and democracy and capitalism. So, there is no shame in saying we want to be successful and make money and make an impact at the same time. Did you feel the same way?

Brendan: You know, I feel sometimes John like the world that we live in today and you know I am pretty young I am in my early 30s. So I have not been around quite as long as you have not seen as many different generations and things but you know, I feel like the world has evolved over the last 10 years to almost make you feel guilty for making money, you know, there is almost this attitude that if you have a successful business and I have seen it I mean I have seen friends, I have seen family, I have seen colleagues that treat you differently because you are successful financially and you know, I have no shame in it because it is not like we sit back and print money, it is not like we do some shady thing that makes money or we found some sort of secret that no one else can have you know, as I talked about earlier we put in the time, we do the hard work, we take the risk and we just as easily could fail at things that we succeed at and so there is tremendous risk in everything that you do in business and so I feel like without that monetary reward at the end of the tunnel for the things that work, you know, it is much more harder to internally be motivated and it is much harder to justify taking risks and doing things that maybe would not work out. So I know my philosophy is similar to yours John is, you know, scale the things that work and cut the things that do not and if you do not have money as a gauge or as a motivator to figure out what works and scale it, you know, you almost lose that balance of being able to do that. So I have no shame in it and you know, it is something that I talk a lot about is, you know, ‘hey if you are in business, there is probably a lot of different reasons beyond money that you are going to be in it and that motivate you but at the end of the day, I think every single one of us is ultimately driven and motivated by financial gains.’

John: Well said, you know Brendan everyone has little idiosyncratic superpowers that they rely on to help them either get through the day or be more successful and get the most out of their day and the most out of their life. What is your one secret super power that you could share with our listeners to make them better every day and what they are trying to accomplish.

Brendan: I think it is one superpower John that I think is a couple different aspects that make it work. The superpower that I think gets me through my day and makes me successful is focus and I think how you get focus is sometimes different for different people but for me personally, there is a few things that I have found really drive my focus it is having a set schedule, you know, making sure every single day you have the same habits, have the same schedule, wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time you know, I kind of joke with people that I am in my 30s, but I live the life of a sixty-year-old because literally whether it is Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night or Tuesday night, it does not matter I go to bed usually between 9 and 10 p.m. you know, of course, there is exceptions to that but stay on say on a schedule, have a schedule set for your work day in terms of what you do. Another big part of my focus is exercise and eating well. I think if you are not healthy and if you are not, you know, moving around and getting exercise and fueling your body properly, it is hard to focus and then just to avoid distractions. We live in a world where as you know, John there is a million different things coming your way at once from social media, text messages, phone calls, emails, mail, you know, literally at any point in the day, you can just be bombarded with contacts and information and so find a way to be responsive but also find a way to be able to set that stuff aside and carve out some space for yourself to focus. So my superpower that gets me going is just being able to focus and being able to sit there and put my head down sometimes for you know, one two three hours at a time and just get my tasks done and get myself in that zone where I can really focus and get my work done.

John: So that goes along with also your time and health hack, focus helps you manage your time better and helps you stay healthier and as sharp as you can be is that not true?

Brendan: It is a hundred percent true and you know in terms of time hacks, so two things there is time and health but one of the things that I try to do as a business owner is I try to look at things that take me greater than 20 minutes and figure out how I delegate those. So there is only so many hours in the day. There is only so much that business owners can do you know with the precious time that they have and if you are sitting there spending hours and hours and hours on a task, there is a good chance that you should probably be delegating the task to someone else or having someone else do it. So I try to really focus on things that you know, take less than 20 minutes in my time or that require, you know, my expertise or require a business owner to do. Everything else I tried to have somebody on my team do it and you know, really just delegate that and be strategic in the things that you do but in terms of like health hacks, I do a variety of things I do not have one. There is not a silver bullet just like there is not a silver bullet in starting a business or in marketing, there is not a silver bullet in terms of health and so my philosophy in a lot of this is thanks to you John because you have taught me a great deal of health over the years and have introduced me to some great books and some great people and great resources, but I really have kind of two or three big components to health, one is eat well so eat clean obviously you are going to have exceptions to that but try to always eat clean and eat well. I am a huge fan of green juices as I know you are as well John and I make sure every single day I have at least one or two juices just to get all my nutrients in. The second hack that I mentioned a little bit ago is exercise so I try to do I actually built last year a gym on my home just to try to be more time efficient and so I try to do cardio and weights at least once every single day also a huge fan of using a sauna I think it is great to just kind of heat your body up and sweat everything out and as you know John, we are in the middle of launching a new company together with red lights and so red light therapy I think is a tremendous benefit to entrepreneurs and business owners to just get the most out of your body feel energized feel good. A lot of times we are stuck, you know indoors and we are getting all this junk blue LED light and so red light and infrared light is a fantastic way to kind of reset your body, reset your circadian rhythm and you know, just keep your body the best and freshest that it can be. So those are kind of my biggest time and health hacks.

John: All great things and our listeners would get a lot out of doing any of all those things that you just mentioned because I know they work I do myself and I think you are spot on I think that is great, great advice no matter what age you are. The healthy you are, the better you can be the best that you can be then so I think that is great Brendan. Brendan there is a lot of listeners out there that need some help on their journey. They feel that once they had have had a job or two or gotten a profession or degree in a specific subject that they just stuck and there is a lot of people that are listening to you and want to be the next Brendan Egan and be a serial entrepreneur that makes an impact with a company like the Marketing Masters or engage or trajectory energy or any of the many companies that you are very involved with. Can you give any advice for our listeners who want to change their path or course and figure out something new to do that they are more passionate about. Where they also then get to make an impact on their community or the world at large?

Brendan: I think the only person standing in their way John is their selves and I think that anyone out there can make a change in their life for the positive whether it is a small change whether it is you know, sitting down and talking with their boss and saying that they think they can contribute more at the company or whether it is a big change like you know, leaving your job and starting your own company and becoming an entrepreneur. I think the only person standing in their way and creating fear is them and it is in their own heads. Now I was fortunate to start my business at a really young and so I think that afforded me a lot of luxuries that a lot of people who are older maybe do not have it you know, I was at an age where I had very little fear, I had very little standing in my way of starting a business, you know, the risk of failure was very high but you know, the consequences of failure were very low given that I was a young college kid when I started my first real business. I also kind of in my head, you know said to myself ‘hey if I cannot make my first business or to work that you know going out to college I was going to go out and find a normal 9 to 5 job or whatever it may be so, you know, I had that luxury of doing that because of the age that I started so I certainly understand for our listeners that you know, maybe you have a mortgage to pay for, have a family that they are taken care of. It is much scarier and much more risky. With the internet I think it is amazing how easy it is though to start a business these days. So whether you want to sell a product, sell a service, you know whatever it may be there is a lot of people that I think can still work a 9 to 5 job and can kind of moonlight whatever that other business maybe until they reach a point of profitability and successfulness that they can leave their normal job so you know I think the internet has really brought the ecosystem in the world and to everybody’s living rooms and you know, there is pros and cons to that but one of the biggest pros is that you know, look at all the internet entrepreneurs that we meet John I mean there is you know, there is college kids, there is people in their 70s that have an idea for a product that are starting it online and everyone in between. So I think that you know, if you do a little research if you do some reading and I hate to plug our book, but John and I have a wonderful book on marketing that is a great starting point for somebody that is looking to start a business and market it, you know, if you have a good idea and if you have a good marketing strategy, I think anyone can kind of moonlight, start their own business and then once it reaches a level of success can leave their job and make that their new full-time gig.

John: Hey for 99 cents our book is a in the kindle version is pretty worthwhile.

Brendan: You and I certainly are not eating dinner tonight on our book we really wrote it for people to really have a resource to learn from so, you know, I am glad to see so many people are taking advantage of it and it you know kind of warms my heart to see that we are able to help so many people for such a modest price point.

John: Yes and I just want to share with our listeners what Brendan was just talking about in terms of the internet, I could not agree more and really the net-net of that is and is so well said by you Brendan that the internet truly has the marketized entrepreneurship.

Brendan: It absolutely has.

John: And that is unbelievable opportunity for all of our listeners out there that if they want to make a change, they do not have to give up their nine-to-five job. They could keep one foot in that and keep the income coming in while they start up their vision, their dream, their opportunity and anyone that contacts you or reads the book or both can find that online opportunities are just boundless still and are not going away in the years ahead so I think that is great. Before you know, we have to say goodbye here a couple things Brendan. First how do our listeners connect with you, you are a very personable person, work with people one-on-one and you are also very connected and easy to work with and reach. I want you to give any of the resources how you want our listeners to get in contact you with.

Brendan: I will give a long list, but anyone that wants to contact me is more than welcome to. I am happy to help with anyone’s marketing needs that they may have. Easiest way is to go to the marketingmasters.com and hit the contact button. You could also go to my personal site, which is brendanegan.com. that is where my podcast lives. You can also go on LinkedIn I am very active on LinkedIn and you can also follow me if you would like on

Instagram egan.88 is my Instagram handle.

John: That is perfect and any shameless plugs, this is your time to promote anything and everything you want to promote Brendan.

Brendan: I would love to just promote once again our book. I think that over the last two years John you and I have put a lot of work and sweat and tears into that book and I think that it is fantastic resource for anyone that needs some marketing help and some marketing tips. It is called a Hundred One Tips from the Marketing Masters and it really focuses on all areas of marketing and especially on digital marketing providing actionable tips and strategies that we use every day at our agency to help our clients grow. So it is a wonderful tool I think for business owners and for people that are maybe looking to start their own business or looking to supercharge and grow their business just to kind of understand some of the different tactics and strategies that we use as an agency and kind of better understand that hey just doing SEO or just doing email marketing does not mean that you are necessarily doing it right or that you are necessarily doing all the little steps that are involved in getting the most ROI in the most success out of your campaign. So that is kind of what we wrote the book for and is John mentioned it is available as an e-book for just 99 Cents. So, there is really no price barriers and there is no reason why somebody would not grab that and even if they just learn one new thing from it, it is well worth it, it is weight and gold.

John: How about this you want to give away five copies to the first five people that contact you and ask you for some for copy of the book The Marketing Masters?

Brendan: I would love to give away 50 copies of the first 50 people that contact me. So anyone that wants to take us up on that feel free to email me brendan@marketingmasters.com. Just say that you listen to the Impact! podcast and we will get you hooked up with a free copy.

John: Brendan you are not only my great friend and business partner, but you are truly a great example and living proof that everyone who wants to make an impact can and make the world a better place. Thank you again for joining us today at the Impact! podcast. It is an honor to have you here.

Brendan: Thanks I appreciate it.