3 Key Lessons From a Business on the Front Lines of War

James G. Cole

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

On February 24, 2022, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine significantly affected a variety of industries across the globe, pushing more and more businesses to change their operating models and development strategies.

3 Key Lessons From a Business on the Front Lines of War

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Currently, many wartorn companies are gradually adjusting to the new realities. As of July 2022, nearly 61% of enterprises in Ukraine had rebuilt the workflow partially or completely to meet the sober reality of the war. However, unfortunately, one out of ten companies today is still completely out of business.

As the CEO of Jelvix, a software development company, I’m well aware of the main challenges that global businesses face today and how the war in Ukraine affected the world. It’s highly important to continue the operation of the business to support the country’s economy, keep the workplaces and, of course, look for new opportunities to develop and scale.

Thus, during the Russian-Ukrainian war, which led to the economic crisis and massive losses, I managed to draw three important lessons that our current operations are built around.

Related: I Run Two Businesses in Ukraine. Here’s How We’re Resilient Enough to Continue Operating During the War

Lesson 1: Employees are the #1 priority in any crisis

Running a business under the shadow of war has proved once again that employees are the base of a strong and long-running organization, so business leaders are responsible for their people’s well-being in times of crisis. Here are some actionable tips:

  • Provide support to your employees: It’s not always possible to manage stress, handle crises and maintain resolve in such situations on one’s own. My company provides direct support through employee assistance programs: psychological, financial, legal and relocation on request. The support employees receive from peers and managers is important, because they identify it with the corporate purpose.

  • Set up remote work and enable employee rotation: The culture of support within our company helps us go through these difficult times and continue to fulfill our obligations to clients. The PMs are in touch with each employee and are monitoring our projects. It helps to understand who on the team needs to be replaced urgently and who needs time to return to full-time work. Our corporate psychologist who consults daily on dealing with stress and anxiety is now of great help, too. Today, 90% of our employees work full-time.

Related: What I’ve Learned From Running a Ukrainian Startup During Wartime

Lesson 2: Developing multiple crisis management plans is crucial

You cannot predict what will happen, even in the nearest future. So, you need to create multiple plans of action in the most adverse situations and consider the following factors:

  • Create crisis management plans for each part of the company’s operation: My company started working on its business continuity plan right after the first wave of Covid. Successful implementation of the business continuity plan allowed us to maintain over 80% of service delivery in the first week of the war, and surpass 90-95% of service delivery levels in the next weeks. We also considered all potential risks to adapt to volatility and current geopolitical risk: strengthening cybersecurity and resilience of IT infrastructure, securing reserve capital (which will support in case of an emergency), closely monitoring political and military situations, working on relationships with governmental institutions and having a strong legal team.

  • Go global to diversify risks: Jelvix, as a company with offices around the world, fully understands the importance and all the benefits of having representations in different countries and jurisdictions. The technology market is fragmented, and each player has its own niche opportunities that can be exploited through alliances and partnerships to build a competitive advantage.

  • Move all infrastructure into the cloud: By migrating all business-related data to the cloud and having back-ups, you will be able to uninterruptedly continue your operations, regardless of whatever may happen with your physical offices and infrastructure.

Related: What We Can Learn About Collaboration From the War in Ukraine

Lesson 3: Transitioning from distress to maximum transparency significantly improves communication

Maximum transparency with distressed clients and employees can make communication a little bit easier and significantly more effective. Here are some steps on how to achieve it:

  • Clearly showcase your position to your clients: In this volatile environment, leading with solidarity and communicating with clarity and honesty may be the key to supporting clients while managing through business constraints and challenges. You can show your clients that your organization has the cultural mindset to reimagine the way processes work by investing in improving data and adopting technologies such as a robust data foundation, AI, cloud and human resources.

  • Show how your company contributes to society: This is what we advise you to do during a crisis or unforeseen situations. Being devastated by shocking news appearing on the front pages, clients will definitely seek some inspiring staff showing that things are getting better. Be mindful of your messaging — in person, on calls and via social media — and be inclusive. This approach can both support our audience and encourage them to support our business in return. The decisions you make today may have an impact on society, both globally and locally.

  • Be open with your team: You need to ensure that all team members are well aware of how you are handling the situation, what measures you undertake to secure the business and its employees and what the company’s future plans are.

These are three main lessons that help Jelvix deal with distressed clients. The approach may work for some companies but may turn out ineffective for other niches. Thus, it’s important to always reimagine employee experience, keep up with the trends and evaluate client satisfaction. As a CEO, I realize that from a specific perspective, in turbulent times like today, companies that learn how to handle crises and economic uncertainty are bound to succeed in the future.


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