What COVID-19 has taught me about business and friendship

Drew Eastmead

June 15, 2020

Like many of you, 2020 has probably been the strangest year of my life. It’s been devastating to see the world turned upside down, and the amount of loss across all aspects of society has been incomprehensible.

But this terrible pandemic has also brought with it some gifts. The “great pause” has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to slow down and re-prioritize. A massive reset button on life.

During COVID-19, I’ve realized a number of things:

I was ready to fully go out on my own

I’ve been preparing to start my own business for at least 4 years now. It started when I had the opportunity to build a new service and my own department from the ground up at online marketing agency Vertical Measures. I saw an opportunity to teach our clients “to fish” — so we began training businesses on digital marketing best practices through a consulting/coaching model.

There is no better way to master a craft than by teaching it to others.

That was a career game-changer for me, so I thank VM (now Investis Digital) for that amazing opportunity. I loved learning about my clients’ businesses, traveling around the country, and helping them improve their company website results. In the past few years, I’ve taught clients about digital strategy, content marketing, SEO, and web design. There is no better way to master a craft than by teaching it to others.

In recent months, I started taking on more side projects. COVID-19 became a catalyst for me reconnecting with old colleagues, clients, and mentors. The pandemic was the jolt I needed to take the leap from “kind of” running my own business to doing it for real.

Reconnecting with friends has sparked joy

In some ways, this entire pandemic has been a “Marie Kondo”-ing of people’s lives: It has been an opportunity to declutter your life, abandon things (and people) that take up unnecessary space or time, and focus on the things that truly bring you joy.

Since April, I have had weekly calls with both my high school friends and my old New York friends. We catch up as a group for 30 minutes, and then "Game Night" and laughter commences (thank you Zoom and thank you jackbox.tv). The game nights typically last 2-3 hours — and they go by in the blink of an eye.

The connection I feel with with each of these friends after all these years is palpable. It's hard to believe a few months ago, that even though all of these people are dispersed throughout the country and many have children, I was only speaking to them individually a few times a year. Now, it's weekly. It's been an amazing escape from the sometimes monotonous quarantine.

All this never would have happened without the pandemic. We were all simply too busy. Until we weren’t.

I gained a renewed sense of purpose

Events in recent months have shined an even brighter light on issues that have been suppressed for far too long: inequalities in health outcomes, racial injustice, climate change, and the illegal wildlife trade to name a few. If you’ve still never heard of a pangolin, please check them out — they’re amazing!

It’s now more obvious than ever that we are all dependent upon each other. Our planet, our communities, our public health — they are all so fragile, and everyone has a part to play. That goes for individuals and businesses alike. We all must commit to a higher purpose than simply “making a profit” at any cost.

I’m excited to grow my small business and play my part: 100% of my office space is powered by solar energy, and I commit to donating 3% of my company’s revenue to nonprofit organizations such as:

I look forward to collaborating with businesses on their digital strategies, and I hope to do so in a way that helps us all give back to causes we care about.