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What the War in Ukraine Can Teach Entrepreneurs About Collaboration Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been devastating to watch unfold in real time. But we've also seen millions of people coming together for the same cause, and all entrepreneurs can learn a lot from this action.

By Brent Ritz Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The war in Ukraine is devastating, and it is certainly hard to see any good from what is happening. We have to question how this invasion happens in a modern world and how we fully understand the effects that this has not just on Ukraine and Russia, but on the entire world for years to come.

Yet these truly devastating events have shown how compassion, help and the coming together of nations, people and businesses around the rest of the world can offer much-needed support to a country when they are in need.

Related: How the War in Ukraine Affected Digital Business Processes

The power of coming together

The war and devastation are almost unbelievable, yet there is some good. Something, even though brought about by disaster, is the uplifting compassion shown by people worldwide for the Ukrainian plight. They asked for help and the world has responded, including the usually passive or neutral Germans and Swiss.

I know only too well the plight of the Ukrainian families having had the very same happen to my own family long ago. I know that the ability to ask for help and, perhaps more importantly, accept help is so totally relevant to our lives, businesses and family, and in the case of the Ukrainian atrocity, the future of their country.

When red lines are crossed for both the world leaders and the people in stricken countries, the sense of unity and noise to protest by the free world is resounding. When we see the pain in others and suffering on any scale, but particularly when lives, businesses, homes and livelihoods are affected, it is heartwarming to see that we become united and opposed to such use of force and assumed rights. Asking for help has the power to begin to build bridges and drive success forward.

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

Ask for help

If nothing else good comes from this war, we must learn that it is vital that we offer support and help to those that need it, and working collaboratively with others brings even greater rewards. The pooling of resources and minds for the greater good to work collaboratively can see better results even when they are pooled. Of course, throughout the world, we are pretty good at offering support when countries are in dire need, with individuals and businesses pulling together to achieve some pretty remarkable ends. Yet how many times in our personal and business lives would such help and support be beneficial.

Entrepreneurs by nature are daring, inventive and generally pretty capable in isolation, yet collaboratively they could achieve much more. If you are great on your own, imagine how much greater you could be working with others, pooling talents, resources and ideas to a greater end. But who starts the process, facilitates such collaborations and opens doors to friendships and futures that build results together and accepting of help that makes things happen, faster, better and more efficiently?

Doing this takes letting go, accepting help and support, and, most importantly, knowing and acting during those times. Build networks in the good times to call on when needed. Ukraine has built relationships with countries when all is well that, whilst it wasn't their intention to buddy up for war purposes, has been a significant factor in their defense. Ukrainian citizens are building new relationships, yet they first had to ask for help and be prepared to accept it even from people they didn't know. These new family relationships benefit not only the Ukrainians in need, but also bring a rich reward for those offering support to give them homes, jobs and the chance of a better future. Entrepreneurs and business owners can benefit from similar collaborative approaches.

Related: Why the Ukraine Crisis Should Make You Rethink How You Lead

When I built Uber Technologies Inc. and ventured into the diverse markets we now embrace and who embrace us, I believed that cultures and people around the world were different.

I started with a stereotypical view, that there are many degrees of separation between all of us. Well, how wrong was I? I learned pretty rapidly that we all had fundamentally similar concerns and problems no matter our nature, wealth or ability to accept help.

The study of sociology fascinated me in a way that went beyond the user interface and data science that I had become used to. Uber cabs were part of my plan to connect people. By connecting people, we open pathways for friendship and help and to be there when needed. Of course, many people are reluctant to ask for help, but nevertheless, it may be welcomed when offered. Helping them learn that asking for help when needed is a good thing. It's not a sign of weakness or inability to cope. It's a sign that you recognize what others can bring to your business and life when you are prepared to let them do some things for you.

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

Of course, tasks can become overwhelming in business, and too many at once can result in none of them being done. You spend time juggling a to-do list rather than actually doing what's on it. Asking for help and collaborating with others is something you should do. New business opportunities bring new friendships and the chance to achieve even more than you ever dreamed of or thought possible.

So whether you are already successful in business or an entrepreneur, it doesn't matter. Getting together with others is powerful. We may see differences in our cultural norms, morality and ethics and prior experiences that shape who we are, but share them and help others! Together we can all learn and achieve greater things. Using the help available and asking when we need support will reduce differences and ensure we keep smaller degrees of separation between us.

Ask for help, build relations and collaborate. Ukraine did — and the whole world came together as a result.

Brent Ritz

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor


Brent Ritz is the founder of UBER. At one point in time, Ritz maintained 16 qualifications and licenses, primarily in finance. Ritz has studied design, real estate, business administration and law.

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