1. Don’t doubt the underdog
In the modern game of football, winning has become something of a monopoly. The same few teams seem to win the same cups and leagues all the time. Apart from the occasional upset (think Leicester City), the problem has become so bad in recent years that many fans have grown somewhat weary of the game, even if their loyalty to their team is unwavering. Money, it seems has a large part to play. That’s not to say that teams don’t win because of the incredible talents they possess – it’s just that only a small percentage of clubs can afford the top talent, leaving the others without a real chance.
When it comes to the World Cup stage, the same rhetoric is also sadly true. For some countries, having a full time manager, coaching staff and players is just not possible and many work day jobs outside of football. So when, through pure grit and determination, these underdogs in the world of football rise up to defeat behemoths such as Spain, Argentina and Germany, hope is restored that pure football can still prevail.
And the same is true for business. Yes, the market is dominated by a small number of global brands with massive capital, but smart entrepreneurs with enough grit and determination still have the power to disrupt and emerge as the victor. Don’t be daunted if you are the underdog – stay hungry and turn it to your advantage.
2. Down is not out
There is generally nothing to be concerned about if you happen to concede the first goal in a football match. Even if it is not the ideal situation, unless it is in the last minute of added time then there is likely to be an opportunity to balance the books. If, however, you suddenly find yourself with a 0-2 deficit from two shots fired into your net four minutes apart within moments of the second half getting underway, the odds become much more strongly turned against you. But for Belgium, this was not a problem. Despite being two goals behind in the 52nd minute, they managed to win the game against Japan with a 3-2 scoreline. Proof that down is definitely not out.
The lesson for entrepreneurs is simple. You can always come back from failure and reach success. It is how you react to apparent defeat that will define the ultimate outcome.
3. Expect the unexpected
When you have the overpowering, flamboyant personality and huge body of a certain Mr Schmeichel filling the gap between your goalposts, it is easy to feel confident in your ability to win the game. Scoring in the opening minute of the game helps. So when the ball somehow gets past your man-monster less than three minutes later you can expect a high goal count. Fast forward 116 minutes to a 1-1 draw at the conclusion of extra time and here we are with another penalty shootout. A dramatic end to a game with a dramatic start. But we already know which team is going to emerge the victor in this situation don’t we? Or do we? Against all expectation, the team that took the lead in the first minute was also the team to be sent home in the last, as Croatia took one of the most unexpected wins of the tournament, leaving Schmeichel and his Danish compatriots shell shocked.
So what is the take away for the entrepreneur here? Always, always, expect the unexpected. Never allow yourself to become so confident that you feel you cannot fail. You can’t control everything. Have a plan, have a plan B and C as well. As the old adage goes, fail to plan, plan to fail. But remember also that the best made plans do not always play out as expected. Stay lean and agile, so that you have the capacity to adapt and change as the need arises – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the advantage this can give you over much larger competitors. Want proof – just look how many brands have vanished from the British high street in recent months.■