2021 was the perfect storm for many ecommerce companies. Advertising performance on Facebook tanked owing to Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates. Covid shutdowns disrupted inventory. For Patrick Coddou, founder of Supply.co, the direct-to-consumer seller of shaving goods, the challenges became overwhelming.
Desperate, he turned to the Entrepreneurial Operating System, a framework to manage a business. He told me, “I was basically at a point of surrender, on my knees. I started applying EOS to the business. It has changed the company, and it’s changed me.”
Coddou and I recently discussed the broader lessons of 2021 — managing adversity, setting a vision, delegating, and more. It’s our fourth interview in two years, having addressed the DTC model, a friendly wager, and the Facebook ad meltdown.
The entire audio of this latest conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Eric Bandholz: 2021 was a struggle. How do you handle bad days, sales-wise?
Patrick Coddou: It’s not healthy or helpful, but I go deep into the numbers. I check advertising performance — costs per impression, click-through rates — and our average order values. But I’m trying to take a broader perspective beyond the immediate day’s results.
We rolled out the Entrepreneurial Operating System this year. It’s been transformational for Supply. It’s a system and process to run a business. It has helped me grow as a CEO and leader and allowed me to delegate more of the details. I now organize my company better and create a vision by setting priorities.
Bandholz: Why EOS?
Coddou: One of the EOS catchphrases is when you hit the ceiling, you’re ready for EOS. 2021 was a challenging year for us. Apple’s iOS updates hurt our advertising results. Covid shutdowns and supply chain interruptions impacted us, too. The business did okay, but not great.
It was a hard year for me personally. We were working overtime on launching complicated new products. Development on those took six months longer than we expected. By Q4, I was burned out.
I know intelligent people who use EOS. One, Jay Sauceda, sold his 3PL and now works at Cart.com. Another, Chris Powers, is a brilliant Realtor here in Fort Worth. I’ve met people running restaurants and other businesses who use EOS. I realized if those folks were doing it, I should too. Jay told me, “It’s changed my business.”
I first heard of EOS a year or so ago. I told myself, “I’m not doing EOS. I know how to do this stuff.”
Then I was basically at a point of surrender, on my knees. I bought the book “Traction,” which explains EOS like a blueprint. I told myself, I’m doing everything in it.” I read “Traction” twice. I started applying EOS to the business.
It has changed the company, and it’s changed me. I enjoy going to work again.
I love solving problems. That’s what entrepreneurs do. But at some point, those problems can become overwhelming.
Bandholz: So you implemented EOS.
Coddou: Implementation is a matter of covering the basics. We never had an organization chart. We never had a strategic vision for the company. So we made the org chart, developed a vision, and clarified our mission statement. We’ve had mission statements, but they were buried in a document, never a core of the company.
EOS calls for a 10-year vision, a three-year vision, a one-year vision, and quarterly objectives to get through the first year. We distribute those objectives to the team and focus on our 10-year goal quarter by quarter. That structure has been very helpful. It breaks down the long-term vision into manageable chunks.
Employees have told me they appreciate EOS. Some significantly so, especially remote employees. My developer is in Africa. He has limited connections to the rest of the team. EOS has given him more direction on what to do daily, weekly, and quarterly. He’s ambitious and enjoys solving problems. He now has a clear path of what to do, which brings satisfaction.
I now realize teams need structure, not for me to micro-manage but to supercharge their work and provide a direction.
Bandholz: How can people get a hold of you and buy some razors?