No other event in the world could ever match up to this heavyweight defender, not the Olympics, not the World Series and not even the great American Super Bowl. Once every four years the FIFA World Cup kicks off, gathering a total of 32 passionate nations on a worldwide stage, fighting for the ultimate honor, as the world gazes with prospects. Global spectators that assemble on a common platform to observe as the clash of the titans heat up, supporting their nation, roaring out what they stand for, proudly exposing their colors.
Because you see, this is so much more than just a game of football; it’s an educational platform unlike any other, teaching you the fine lessons of the entrepreneurial life. So as you glance back at the World Cup, reminiscing about the viral “Suarez incident” and Brazils’ historical defeat, consider these five entrepreneurial lessons that will not only make the time you spent in front of the TV entertaining – but also good for business!
Never underestimate the Underdogs
If there is anything we learnt form the World Cup this year, it’s that you should never underestimate the underdogs, never look down on the “little guys”, because as you turn your back, glancing at Ronaldo’s Portugal (we all saw how well that turned out) or Spain’s throne holders (even I didn’t see that one coming), they’ll bite you in the ass, making you regret you ever doubted them. I mean, the majority of all the 16 teams that emerged into the “knock-out” stages weren’t really the world’s most glorified nations. Costa Rica, Columbia and even the U.S (which the Swedish superstar, Ibrahimovic, called a “joke”) turned out to be the hungriest teams out there, surpassing European superpowers such as England, Italy and of course Spain.
So for all my self-employed entrepreneurs, this should go out as a lesson that shows us that “big-players” don’t always end up on top. It proves to show that with enough determination, perseverance and vision you can outdo the elite and beat the odds because so long as there’s a consistent shift in time, you can provide distinctive value and significance even if you’re an underdog.
Talent without discipline is worthless
Let me take you back a couple of years, back to South Africa’s FIFA World Cup in 2010 where Spain absolutely dominated the game, capturing their first World Cup title. And it was quite obvious; I mean with some of the best players in the world, most of them coming from the much admired Barcelona and Real Madrid, they were expected to over-shadow every nation and take it all home. But as we slowly witnessed, Spain lost its dominant power over Europe, and their road to victory in Brazil was cut off pretty early, and not in the best way we shall ad as we watched them get bashed by the Netherlands. Same thing goes for England and Italy, two exceptional nations who made their exit pretty early in the tournament.
Being talented, having that little extra means absolutely nothing if there’s no aspiration and persistence backing it up. I mean what’s the point of having a bigger tank than anyone else, if there is nothing fueling it? Embrace the fact that effort, strategy and innovation is all a part of the equation and that ambition will lead you to triumph, regardless of what is put in front of you. Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings – useless.
Association by Connection – A brands’ best friend
The World Cup has been big on getting in iconic brands to sponsor the event. Coca-Cola, Adidas, Sony – a fraction of the World Cups’ sponsors who have been setting the world on fire, keeping us entertained between the games with their innovative and captivating promotions, capitalizing on the excessive heat the World Cup has been receiving from all over the world. With that being said, it’s their strategic approach to marketing their own brand that really sets them apart from anyone else. The majority of the entities worked on tying their products to the World Cup and not specifically to the products and services itself, establishing a sense of connectivity and leveraging the FIFA brand to their advantage.
This emphasizes on the importance of building a collective community for your brand. So instead of purely focusing on self-promotion as a tactic of boosting your brand without feeling like spam 2.0, focus on propelling your product or service by associating it to a common field of interest. Take Nike for example, their latest commercials were all directly linked to the World Cup, but had “subliminal marketing strategies” within the ad, showcasing their latest boots – making you, me and millions of other fans wanting to watch it over and over again.
It’s never a one-man show
The World Cup surely had some great nations clashing for the title, nations with an amazing track record that can’t be held against them. Brazil, Italy, Spain and the list just keeps on going. But what one can’t forget is that individual skill can never take you to the top. I mean, I’m guessing people would consider Spain to be a much more skillful team than Costa Rica, and we all saw what happened there. At the end of the day, a nation can never depend on one distinctive player and a player can never evolve a game around himself. You see, what differentiated Germany from any other nation in the World Cup, was not only their mind-blowing skillset, but their cooperative team-play as well. Portugal had Ronaldo, Argentina had Messi, Brazil had Neymar and Germany, well Germany had a team.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, there is only so much you can do alone. Establishing a strong team to run behind you and a team that you can leverage on will help you reach your objectives a hell of a lost faster, establishing a solid foundation for future ventures.
There is no better accelerator than strategy
Who could ever believe that a nation like Costa Rica would actually have the balls to match up against a team like the Netherlands? I mean at least in my eyes, that was a no brainer! But truth be told, they managed to take the game to penalties and unfortunately, lost. But nevertheless, they used the simplest yet strictest football strategy that allowed them to control the game in a way that gave the opponents no chance to capitalize on their strong well-maneuvered forwards – “The Offside Trap”. With unbelievably strong team-symmetry and awareness, Costa Rica stopped the Dutch as they tried to make it further up the line, surviving for 120 minutes in the arena.
Entrepreneurs, this is a reminder of the importance of strategy. The significance of a game-plan. Just think about it, companies and individuals with just pure talent can go far, but business with a killer combination of a strategic game-plan and undeniable talent are those who endure aggressive battles and usually, end up on top, because talent without a plan of action is straight up impractical.
As the 2014 Brazilian World Cup had some great moments, unifying nations and cultures from all over the world, bringing together the worlds’ greatest athletes on a single platform for us to gaze upon, there was so much to absorb and reflect on. Eliminate all that excessive noise and emotion, and you’ll notice that there is so much to be learnt from the players, teams and supporters that can easily be applied to your business, entrepreneurial philosophies and whatever life lessons that determines where the road to success ends up for you.
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