Our Story: The Rise of Covid Entrepreneurs
Written By: Julia Russo, Founder & CEO. Published: 12/10/2020
It was March 2020 and I, like millions of others around the world, had lost my job. Only months after graduating from college, I was terrified of running up against the rich applicant pool of those recently laid off. Not only that, but like most young people, I was unsure of what direction to take professionally. Recruiting under normal conditions is anxiety-inducing enough, how on Earth was I supposed to stand out?
It was then that I decided to occupy my spinning mind by doing something I had never done: create a website. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the creative process, and the confidence that came with saying “check out my website!” I began to wonder if other people would see the value in it too, particularly when standing out digitally has become more important than ever. I called out to the abyss and said: here I am, I am not yet a professional in this space but I can offer you my dedication and full attention.
After receiving rejection after rejection I made the risky decision to stop applying to jobs altogether and work on this newfound passion full time. After days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, I found myself hiring team members to help me with the workload because of ever-increasing demand. Today, I am proud to say that our website design and marketing agency has had a wide-range of clients: from professionals hoping to stand out in the labor market, to new entrepreneurs looking to build their brand, to established businesses needing to rapidly pivot – we’ve been able to serve them all.
Our company’s minor success (thus far) is only a fraction of the booming trend of new “Covid” entrepreneurs coming to market at the moment though – particularly with eCommerce shops. This has brought a recurring question back into the limelight: is it true there is more entrepreneurial drive and success during recessions? I was recently listening to a podcast with serial founder David Cancel, who framed it this way: entrepreneurial growth, rather than occurring during recessions, happens during periods of disruption – and we can all agree, this pandemic is certainly disruptive.
Airbnb, Uber, WhatsApp, Venmo, Slack, and many other world-famous startups came to be during and in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. How is it possible that they started and eventually became successful during such a tumultuous time? As David Cancel suggested, they filled a gaping hole, helping people cope with a world that was dramatically shifting. It’s during these periods of uncertainty that entrepreneurs, forced out of their normal lives, are given an opportunity to challenge the status quo and do something they may otherwise find unthinkable.
I want to end off with a book recommendation I hope you will strongly consider. In my darkest moments of uncertainty, I felt as if I would have no path or future, that a “career” was simply not for me. Today I have a full-time job I adore at a venture capital firm, and continue to run my business nights and weekends. I want to offer advice (that this book helped me realize) to anyone who may be struggling with their career, job search, or overall sense of purpose in life: despite social pressure, you do not need to have everything figured out right away. Take time to explore different fields and indulge in professional passions, even if that means taking a job you think is “beneath” you, or starting a project you have no formal training in. Take the time to invest in the most well-rounded version of yourself, and the most fulfilling career and life for you will be just around the corner.
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