We value curious minds. We love learning from people who are doing cool things out in the world, so we’ve made it a regular pursuit. The Entrepreneur Series is a GoKart Labs-hosted guest speaker event focused on startups and the individuals who built them. We invite a business founder to share their startup story, and some of the challenges and lessons they have encountered along the way.
Name: Justin Cox
Startup: Arthur Wayne (2014)
Title: Founder, Certified EOS Implementer
Background: Magnet 360, Founding Team Member and Senior Director; Minnesota Cup Business Plan Competition, Review Board Member; Techstars, Mentor; Beta.MN, Co-Founder; the list goes on.
Story: As a third-generation entrepreneur, you might say it runs in the blood. Justin Cox knew early on that he wanted to follow a similar path as his parents and their parents, building and maintaining businesses. For over a decade, Cox has been involved in starting, developing or acquiring companies in the Twin Cities—and has been a major player in business competitions and programs.
Shortly after graduating from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business, Cox was part of the team that started Magnet 360, a salesforce and marketing strategy and service company. By 2012, Magnet 360 was the fastest growing private company in MN and voted “best place to work.” Life was busy. When Cox and his wife, both high-achieving, full-plate business professionals, wanted to start a family, they knew something had to give. So, they took a break rented a camper and hit the road for three months. The big road trip rule? No career-talk for the first four weeks.
The couple bounced around out west, visiting cities and surfing beaches. Over the three-month detox, Cox came to some realizations. By analyzing his career and peeling away the things that didn’t excite him, he better understood what he wanted out of his day-to-day—to help grow startups and small companies. At first, the idea was to acquire not-so-sexy but necessary businesses (like plumbing) and implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System. EOS is a set of simple, holistic concepts that can be leveraged to run a business. However, raising the money to buy these businesses wasn’t something that Cox could get excited about. EOS was. So, Cox would become a teacher, facilitator, and coach for entrepreneurs and business owners who want implement EOS. Two days after returning home from the road trip, Cox founded his company, Arthur Wayne. One week after that, his wife learned that she was pregnant with their first child.
Today, Cox has worked with 30 high-growth, quick-culture companies on micro and macro levels of EOS. About 80% of his work time is spent helping leadership teams find the right answers for their business. From his experience, the answer is always in the room, they just have to slow down and find it together.
“Do less better.” Another road trip realization for Cox and his wife was that by doing less, they could do better. Since then, simplicity has been a top priority. This means constantly stepping back to reevaluate their goals and being very intentional in their plans.
EOS is not EOS is not EOS. Cox says, “the beauty of EOS is in its simplicity and a lot of clients want to add on to it, that’s where it can slow down.” There is no company running purely and perfectly on EOS and everyone has various levels of commitment, experiences, highs and lows. He’s there to keep things on as best a track as possible.
Don’t drag. Cox has a line, “if you have to drag them in, you’re going to have to drag them around.” In other words, he’s learned that if he has to convince someone to get on board with EOS, he’s going to have to be constantly convincing them of EOS. The best way to sell is to just lay it all out, demonstrate the value, and ask them to give it a try.
Don’t be fooled by something that’s good now. What might work currently most likely won’t remain a constant. You have to be agile. This goes for teams, process, and even entire markets.
Stay focused on staying excited. Cox has noticed that when there is a market opportunity, many people who are in his line of work veer off course without thinking about how it will impact their day-to-day. “If you don’t stay excited about what you’re doing, it’s hard to get over hurdles and find growth.” Stick to it.
Cox is excited about what’s next for his clients. With a few, in particular, there’s a big change on the horizon, “these teams have put their heads down and worked their asses off to make things happen. Being in the backseat, and seeing and celebrating that growth is a blast.”