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One Year Since Russia's War: How I Kept Running Business Through the Worst of TImesby@dariasup
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One Year Since Russia's War: How I Kept Running Business Through the Worst of TImes

by Daria LeshchenkoMarch 17th, 2023
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It’s hard to believe, but it has already been a year since Russia attacked Ukraine without any provocation, rhyme, or reason. Since then, the world has changed. People all around us understood the real price of freedom and learned that Ukrainians are ready to stand up and fight. They are also ready to work and develop no matter the circumstance. Today I want to share several approaches that I found to be helpful while leading a company during a full-scale invasion of my country.
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It’s hard to believe, but it has already been a year since Russia attacked Ukraine without any provocation, rhyme, or reason. Since then, the world has changed. People all around us understood the real price of freedom and learned that Ukrainians are ready to stand up and fight. They are also ready to work and develop no matter the circumstance.


Today I want to share several approaches that I found to be helpful while leading a company during a full-scale invasion of my country.

1. Make your communication as fast as possible

Panic and fear of uncertainty are natural human reactions to change. They are also the natural enemies of productivity and efficiency. That is why, in uncertain times and in crisis situations, it is important to keep communication fast and clear.


Keeping every single person in the loop on all the changes and shifts may be tough, especially when leading a big international team. The solution here is delegation, and clear and regular communication culture:

  • Delegation — helps make sure that if a leader communicates all the changes only to their top management team, they will find a way to relay it further down the line. This way, the leader has the time to make the right choice and decisions, which is critical in a stressful situation, and will not have to worry about someone missing out on important information.
  • Communication culture — at our company, SupportYourApp, regular communication, announcements, and procedures are a must. We are so used to constantly being in touch with each other, it has seeped into our DNA. That is exactly what helped us stay informed in the first couple of weeks since a full-blown invasion started. Regular calls, Slack channels, and even email threads helped us check up on each other, exchange valuable information, and provide one another with much-needed support.


There are several ways to tackle communication during crises, but I stand by my words — it needs to be rapid and clear.

2. Diversify as much as possible

Businesses that survived the COVID-19 pandemic know — diversification is key to success. The more different clients you have, the more things you do, and the more global your company is, the better.


And I have learned this lesson not once, but twice.


When the Russian tanks started rolling through Ukrainian borders without any provocation or reason, many members of our team were forced to pick up and leave their homes in search of safer places. Me included. Some of us were fleeing the country altogether, some of us spent days in our cars driving in search of new homes. It is clear, at those moments, not a lot of us thought about our jobs — such is human nature.


During those days, the members of our international team — about 60% of our support consultants are located outside Ukraine — were able to cover for their teammates’ shifts, perform their tasks for them, and generally help our client’s customers feel as if nothing was happening. It helped the Ukrainian part of the SupportYourApp family seek shelter without having to fear for their jobs, and it helped us provide everyone with uninterrupted services.


Diversification of the team and of the client base is one of the greatest approaches to business I have implemented throughout my career. And it helps me run the company even during the war.

3. Have an up-to-date business continuity plan

Before the full-scale invasion started, my team and I developed several continuity plans. Each one was meant to come into effect as the situation escalated. Back then, Ukraine was the target of psychological warfare and regular cybersecurity attacks. As a business, we had to be prepared for anything. And so, our Corporate Security, Technology, Business Development and Internal Operations departments came up with plans of what we would do if worse came to worst. Of course, we all hoped we would never have to use any of the plans.


Today, we are prepared for anything. During country-wide blackouts, we sent our team practical tips on how to keep working and be productive when electricity use is limited. We ensured our offices had constant power and internet connection, so that the workflow never stopped. Our team even bought and sent out power banks to those who didn’t have the possibility to come and work from the office.


We have sent out instructions on what to do in case of shelling and bombing (that is one of the saddest things I have ever written), and to this day, we support and empathize with each other. And I do not see it ever stopping.


But back to business continuity plans. Thanks to them, we have retained the same level of service security and quality regardless of the circumstance. We now know if we manage to go through the war, we can do anything when peace is finally restored.

4. Keep calm and carry on

Everyone has a different reaction during crises. Some mobilize themselves and start acting from the very beginning. Others need some time to start thinking clearly and have some room to breathe before they can make their decisions.


When you are a leader, it is important to remember there are people relying on you and your decisions 100% of the time. That is why keeping a calm and cool head is the number one rule for me when running the business during the war. After all, a calm attitude and rational approach are the first steps that need to be taken to be an effective leader during a crisis situation.