World Cup of Life: What the FIFA World Cup Teaches Us About Running a Business

To billions of football fans, it’s the Greatest Show on Earth. And they’re not wrong!

The spectacle that is the FIFA World Cup has gotten bigger and grander over the years. This year’s edition in Qatar, the 22nd running of the competition from 20 November to 18 December, promises to be the most magnificent, most watched and most expensive of them all.

Nevertheless, the competition is more than state-of-the-art stadiums, a revolutionary new football, advancements in viewing technology or money-spinning merchandise. It’s about 32 national sides competing to be the best of the best in men’s football and capturing the hopes and dreams of the entire world in the process.

Beyond sporting action, there is much to learn from the World Cup, not just for football fans but business leaders and owners too. In conjunction with the tournament, here are five lessons from World Cups past to inspire both aspiring and current entrepreneurs.

  1. Performance matters more than branding

Thanks to brilliant marketing and the success of the English Premier League, the England national team ranks among the most popular footballing sides in the world. But success isn’t entirely about commerce, and the record shows that the Three Lions haven’t always lived up to expectations at the World Cup.

Yes, branding and marketing are important, and in the case of direct selling, they are crucial to bringing business owners to the attention of customers. Nevertheless, they only add value to your business if you’re focused and professional, meet targets, and serve customers with dedication.

Are you meeting up to Expectations of your customers and Performance standards?

  1. Talent doesn’t guarantee success

Like marketing, talent and skills can only help teams succeed if and when they’re complemented with hard work and discipline. Indeed, there’ve been many examples of hugely talented sides — like Brazil in 1966 and Spain in 2014 — being dumped out of the competition by less illustrious opponents.

Even Having talented Nigerian players in different clubs all over europe couldn’t guarantee Nigerian team a place in this world cup without the neccessary skills , hardwork and discipline.

The lesson for entrepreneurs, thus, is that resting on one’s laurels / past glory and talent doesn’t lead to victory. Augmenting one’s entrepreneurial gifts with focus, dedication, effort, and belief can, however, give you a fighting chance.

  1. A supportive community is crucial

The passion and commitment of fans have helped buoy many a team at the World Cup. Iceland’s successful Russia 2018 campaign has been attributed in part to the devotion of the team’s fans and their thunderous Viking claps.

Yet, strong relationships aren’t built in a day, which is why business owners must work towards developing a supportive community.

Loyalty, remember, comes from trust. And to gain the loyal support of customers, associates and team members, one must always strive to do what’s right.

Engage with your clients and customers. Communicate with them and share your business stories. If your business is relatable your biggest critics can become your best fans and brand advocates.

  1. Belief is everything

No one gave Cameroon a chance at Italia 1990. A team of unknowns with only a handful of professional players, the expectation was that the side would crumble against mighty Argentina in the opening match and promptly be booted out of the competition. 

What happened, however, was one of the greatest fairytales in World Cup history, as Cameroon’s fighters, spurred on by belief, beat the defending champions before going all the way to the quarterfinals!

Similar stories have happened with senegal team that upset france in the world cup 2002 in the group stage as Defending champions and got to the 4th place in the semifinals.

Did Africa’s Indomitable Lions or Terranga lion of Senegal listen to the naysayers who’d written them off? Did they heed the warnings about Argentina or that of France ? Probably. But what they also did, like all entrepreneurs who’ve faced criticism, is to push forward regardless, confident in their abilities and the cause.

  1. Losing isn’t the end

With five titles to its name, there’s no question of Brazil’s status as the No. 1 nation in World Cup history. Yet just as revered as its trophy-clinching teams is one that failed to win anything. Reason? The 1982 side, widely regarded as one of the best teams to never become champions, played with authenticity and passion.

Tolerate failure in individuals and teams.

‘There is no failure. There is only feedback’. Many entrepreneurs don’t succeed because their fear of failure stops them from developing their business and making changes. When things don’t go to plan, think about what you have learned from the experience.

Bonus Tip

Have a Vision of Your Goals

It’s helpful to have a vision of your business goals but it is essential to plot the steps you need to take to achieve the goal. This is as true for individual entrepreneurs as it is for organisations. People are motivated by the idea of the big goal but that motivation is sustained by achieving all the little goals that keep moving them in the right direction.

Scoring takes effort

Success, as every  superstar knows, isn’t a walk in the park. It takes even greater effort to be counted as among the very best. Yet, the World Cup has shown us for nearly a century that glory is attainable for those who want it, believe in it, and work towards it.

Thanks for your attention and please enjoy your day.

Dr Laide Okubena

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