Meet Brendan Cox: a serial entrepreneur from New Jersey who has founded more than 10 businesses – and he’s only 19. Brendan currently owns and runs various businesses from his office located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Specializing in graphic design and branding, Cox is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in his age group. He is the founder of Cox Visuals, Teen Assistant, Kicks Cases, & Cox Social Media Management. He has partnerships with large startups such as Habits 365, SocialStudy App, and numerous others. Cox’s many endeavors are driven by his passion for helping small businesses – his goal is to ensure that entrepreneurs have the resources they need to develop large, successful brands.
Throughout his journey, Cox has witnessed hundreds of small businesses growing through the power of branding and advertising. He began his entrepreneurial endeavors with multiple small businesses of his own, most notable being Kicks Cases – a phone case business created around an athletic niche. As the most popular provider for sports-themed phone cases, the company attracted an audience of over 115,000 people across various social media platforms. Within one year, Kicks Cases had profited over $20,000, which opened Cox’s eyes to the power of social media.
Having gained a powerful understanding of social media through his work with Kicks Cases, Cox purchased an Instagram account with over 200,000 followers for $900. Almost immediately after purchasing the account, he made his money back and began monetizing his audience. He joined a pay-per-click firm and quickly grasped the basics of Instagram marketing. Through weekly advertisements, brand deals, and simple clicks, Cox was able to generate thousands of dollars in revenue and build a name for himself on the internet. This not only boosted his personal income, but helped grow Kicks Cases’ name.
Unfortunately, Cox hadn’t patented his phone case idea, and ultimately faced competition from multiple copycat brands. Additionally, because it was focused so heavily around a trend, Kicks Cases gradually died out and sadly no longer exists today. Despite its downfall, it is arguably the most educational and important part of Cox’s entrepreneurial journey.
Throughout his run with Kicks Cases, Cox picked up on several graphic design skills when designing cases, flyers, and the website for his business. By chance, a Brooklyn-based company spotted Cox’s phone cases and reached out to him, asking about his graphic design abilities. They worked with Cox for 2 years and eventually started over with a luxury streetwear brand called Habits 365, for which Cox has made thousands of designs. Since its launch in 2017, Habits 365 has exploded and numerous celebrities such as Andre Drummond, Dwyane Wade, Le’Veon Bell, Floyd Mayweather, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Lil Baby, Da Baby, Jay Critch, and hundreds of others have worn clothes designed by Cox himself.
Today, Cox Visuals continues to expand through collaborations with artists, musicians, and influencers of different genres. Cox hopes to grow his graphic design agency and one day be able to collaborate with even larger corporations.
Graphic design wasn’t always the core of Cox’s business life – he’s experimented with other business models in the past as well. In the middle of his high school career, Cox launched another company – a business that paired local teens with odd jobs in Central Jersey. The service was called Teen Assistant, and grew rapidly throughout Cox’s final two years of high school. People from surrounding towns would contact Cox with a job they couldn’t do themselves, and Cox would send local teens out for an affordable and efficient job well done. These tasks ranged from tutoring to yard cleanup, landscaping, product assembly, and assisting citizens in moving from home to home. Cox provided high school aged boys and girls with easy ways to make money, all while supporting the community in which he lived.
Within one year of providing these services, Teen Assistant generated six figures in revenue. Before Cox went off to college, he sold the business to a younger aspiring entrepreneur from his hometown, and the business continues to grow and assist the community.
Today, Cox studies entrepreneurship at the University of Scranton where he is heavily involved in the Entrepreneurship Program. Cox runs and manages his businesses out of the Wayne House, which is the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Scranton. He explains that after he graduates, “I will continue my several entrepreneurial endeavors I am currently running. In addition, I am always studying new trends and consumer audiences in order to seek out new business opportunities.”
Here are some of Cox’s tips and tricks on how to navigate the business world as a young entrepreneur.
Connections, Connections, Connections.
Connections are everything in business. The strongest corporations have a network of people standing behind them – people who support the ideas and goals of the business. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to build stable relationships with everyone you meet because you never know how they might be able to help you in the future. Always remember to be kind, respectful, and helpful to the people you meet – you need to build strong, long term relationships with as many people as you can because one day, you’ll need your network of supporters.
On top of making good impressions, you should try to get the phone numbers, emails, and social media handles of everyone you meet. In today’s world, technology enables us to make connections instantly, especially through the power of social media. With a few simple taps, you can be in touch with anyone and uncover anything about them – Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you name it. It’s important to keep your own social media pages looking clean and professional so you can use them to score potential business opportunities. It’s also crucial to maintain a presence on your social platforms – you should post consistently and routinely interact with other posts.
Brendan currently manages over 15 social media pages, and he reaches out to over 20 new businesses entrepreneurs daily. He values his connections and relationships over everything:
“Succeeding in the business world has so much to do with making connections. It’s more about who you know than what you know” – Brendan Cox
Capitalize off Your Failures.
Every aspect of life is a learning curve – no entrepreneur is perfect, and everyone is bound to fail at some point. What matters is how you handle failure, and what lessons you can learn from it. Cox says:
“My biggest failure was an investment I made in middle school. I invested $10,000 into growing an Instagram account, which was a part of my million-follower Instagram network.”
The account was dubbed @worstcalls and amassed over 400,000 followers just in a matter of months, being one of the most active Instagram accounts in the sports niche. The account displayed content of the worst referee calls in professional sports. Soon after reaching 400,000 followers, the account was deleted by Instagram for “violating their terms.” Cox adds:
“This was obviously a huge loss for me. In a split second, I lost $10,000 which is a lot of money for a 14 year old to lose. I tried everything to get the account back but Instagram didn’t even return my emails. I put this loss behind me and used it to motivate me to start something bigger and better. As an entrepreneur, failure is inevitable and you can only use it to motivate you.”
“Failure is almost unavoidable when it comes to being an entrepreneur. What matters is how you deal with it.” – Brendan Cox
Action over Words
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs plan their business for years and try to perfect every small detail before taking action. People will wait until they have the time, energy, money, and other resources before taking the first step. The truth is, there is no better time to start than right now. If you wait too long to enact your ideas, you’ll have less of a chance of carrying through.
Taking action is what sets a good entrepreneur apart. There is nothing special about saying you’re going to do things – the value lies in actually doing things. Anyone can have an idea, but entrepreneurs can turn these ideas into functional and profitable realities.
“Thinking of an idea is easy, making it happen is hard” – Brendan Cox
Perspective is everything when it comes to being successful. Entrepreneurs see the world differently than other people – they are constantly looking for ways to improve ordinary things. The best inventions have come from entrepreneurs who successfully created something they were lacking in their own life. Million dollar ideas exist everywhere when you’re looking for them.
Your mindset is everything – if you aren’t motivated to make something happen, it never will. In order to stay in check, always challenge yourself to make your daily life easier. Ask yourself how you could be happier. There are countless ways to improve yourself, your surroundings, and others’ lives.
“If your mindset isn’t ‘I will succeed,’ you’ll always be running from failure.” – Brendan Cox
Under Promise Over Deliver
Customer satisfaction is crucial to the success of your business. A key strategy for happy clients and customer retention is under promising and over delivering. If you make too many promises, customers will definitely be disappointed if you can’t follow through. Instead, say less and do more – certainly tell your clients about what they should expect, but always give them a little more. This way, you’re not only following through on your promises, but you’re exceeding expectations.
Many great people and businesses have failed in the past due to their inability to act on their words. In order to avoid losing support and respect from the public, make sure your business never bites off more than it can chew. If you’re uncertain about something, don’t share it with your clients – your business should be built on trust.
“Going above and beyond a customer’s expectations is critical to customer retention.” – Brendan Cox
Let us note that when Bezos started Amazon.com, no one believed he would still be operating months after he started. Our society is extremely different from what it was in the 1990’s. We are yet to unleash the power that technology awaits, and Jeff Bezos could be working on it momentarily.