“It’s Time to Build” is a popular blog post by Marc Andreessen, the Internet pioneer and investor. He wrote it in April 2020 at the onset of the worldwide pandemic.
Andreesen believes the pandemic is a failure of all of us to build governmental and commercial solutions to current and future societal needs.
The post is controversial to some. But not to me. Covid-19 is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Ecommerce businesses are lucky. Amid the global pandemic, our industry is thriving and pushing forward.
Fringe Sport, my company, exists to improve lives through strength. We do this by helping folks build amazing garage and community gyms. It seems a lot of people want to build a gym in their garage these days, and we are here to assist.
I’ve taken “It’s Time to Build” to heart. Perhaps all of us in ecommerce can focus on it.
What does it mean to build?
With the coronavirus, there is a strong desire to maintain, to wait it out. We must reject that. We must create. We must make things better. We must help people.
Help your customers
The first people to help are customers. Starting in the early days of the pandemic, Fringe Sport experienced a burst in sales. People (customers) were looking for certainty in a time of uncertainty. But for us, this burst of sales strained (or broke) our operations. We had to prioritize what to fix.
First, we focused on being able to ship orders quickly. This was not easy! It meant a lot of work on our processes, procedures, and systems. It also meant hiring more employees. We hired seemingly anyone we could get our hands on. Referrals from employees and friends led to awesome new team members.
Next, we scaled our supply chain. Early on we recognized that the sales burst could continue. We worked with our suppliers to increase deliveries so we could get products to our customers. We were successful, but the process is not complete.
Another bottleneck was customer support. What we thought were infrequent customer service issues became an avalanche. We built out the team, processes, and systems to provide quality support. Our customers are desperate for products to improve their strength, fitness, and mental health during a pandemic. They wanted certainty in a world without it.
Help your employees
I’ve always strived to make Fringe Sport a fantastic place for the right employees. We have a robust benefits package, which we’ve expanded with Covid. We provide masks for every employee. We explain the Covid risks. We encourage them to comply with masks and social distancing, even when they aren’t at work. We also remind them that if Covid affects them or their families, we’ll stand behind them with time off and other resources. We’re looking at adding even more benefits to make Fringe Sport an even better place.
Help your business
Build your business! We’ve long struggled with systems and processes at Fringe Sport. And then Covid hit. It was transforming. We had much less time, yet we were able to move quickly to fix the broken areas. There’s a saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” When we got busy, we got things done!
Help your family
Don’t neglect your family. The pandemic has created uncertainty for everyone — including our families. I mostly work from home now. I’ve assisted my wife and kids to stay safe and feel safe. I’m trying to provide leadership that my family needs.
Help the world
And finally, I’m striving to help the world and my community. There’s now massive global confusion and a lack of leadership. I’m trying to radiate calm and certainty while avoiding political bickering.
In short, I’m here to help. And I’m here to build.