Volusioneers have been glued to their seats for the World Cup. Here are a few entrepreneurial lessons we've learned from the sidelines.
Even if you are not a soccer fan, this year's World Cup has been rife with entertainment value. From 'bite-gate' to strange haircuts and the ridicule they have inspired, every match has been a case study in sportsmanship—for better or worse. If you have missed out on some of these "learning opportunities," here are a few highlights and the lessons that entrepreneurs can garner from them.
1. Reputation is Everything
Number 1 was this close to being “don’t bite people”—I am still tempted to go back and change it—but most of us learned that lesson before well before entered the business world. When Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini collided on the field, one of two things happened: either Chiellini assaulted Suarez’s mouth with his shoulder or Suarez bit an opponent for the third time. The former is Suarez’s side of the story. I am more inclined to believe the later because, well, it would be the third time this has happened.
What’s the takeaway for the entrepreneur? Trust is something that you earn and not something that your customers owe you. If you habitually abuse the trust that you have earned, you should not be surprised when it becomes more difficult to earn more in the future. Protect your reputation by learning from your mistakes, owning them and making the commitment to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
2. . . . But Winning Isn't
Sportsmanship is not just for athletes. When the Ivory Coast beat Japan 2-1 in their first World Cup match, Blue Samurai fans did not scream or riot. They cleaned the stadium. After their match with Greece ended in a draw, they cleaned the stadium again, and once more when they lost to Columbia and were eliminated from the competition. That is one stadium for every person that Luis Suarez has bitten.
What’s the takeaway for the entrepreneur? You are not going to win at everything you try, but every loss is an opportunity to practice good character. When you do not meet your goals, make another goal for yourself to act graciously. That goal will always be within your reach.
3. Remember Who's Counting on You
Claudio Marchisio may have cost Italy the match when left an impression of his studs in an opponent’s leg, earning a red card. It was a controversial call, but whether you blame Claudio or the referee, the penalty left Italy with only 10 players.
What’s the takeaway for the entrepreneur? Part of the appeal of being an entrepreneur is the independence that it brings. However, even if you work alone, there are always people that depend on you, whether it be your business partners or your customers. Always remember who is counting on you.
4. Question Your Assumptions
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo set Twitter aflame when he entered the field with a zigzag pattern shaved into the side of his head. Although universally despised, there may have been a method to Ronaldo’s manicured madness. One rumor holds that the haircut is a tribute to a young boy’s surgery scars after Ronaldo paid to have his brain tumor removed.
What’s the takeaway for the entrepreneur? If the rumors turn out to be true, a lot of Twitter users are going to be rushing to delete their misanthropy towards Ronaldo’s philanthropy. Your career, however, is not as easy to manage as a Twitter feed, and there is no forgiving delete button when it comes to your business decisions. Be careful about making assumptions.
5. Practice Small Acts of Kindness
If you have not seen the heartwarming photo of Australia’s Mark Bresciano tying a child’s shoe, stop reading this article and correct that immediately.
Didn’t I tell you it was heartwarming? This is as small as an act of kindness can get, but the impact is far from small. Few images from the World Cup—if any at all—will outlive this one.
What’s the takeaway for the entrepreneur? Make a big difference by practicing small acts of kindness. Being kind means being memorable. Simple gestures like this do not take much time or even effort, but they will shape your image in incredible ways if you do them consistently.
We hope you will join Volusion in our continued support for Team USA as they advance to play against Belgium next Tuesday, and please feel free to share your own World Cup lessons in the comments below. Just remember to play nice. No biting.