By Evan Nierman

The European and South American soccer championships weren’t just amazing sports events. This “beautiful game” offers important life lessons that entrepreneurs and executives can apply to every day business.

The Team That Works Together Wins Together

First and foremost, soccer is a sport that requires coordinated team effort. There are exceptional players who can make a difference on their own but at the end of the day, the teams that emerge victorious are those which are most unified. Their carefully orchestrated defense allows them to advance down the field and score goals.

What’s more, playing a team sport can help you contribute better to a team at work. Team sports require communication, trust and compromise – all skills that are useful in professional situations. Positivity. Supporting each other. Striving for excellence. Accepting responsibility. Providing encouragement. These are all winning traits that can make or break a sports team or a business. They are essential for success in both arenas.


The metaphor for business is very clear – in soccer you need to have a strong defense so you can protect the other team from scoring. In the business world, you must also have a strong line of defense to protect your brand and shield your business from the competition.

As in soccer, a successful business’s line of defense should be multi-faceted. A business needs solid legal support, whether that be in-house general counsel or an outside law firm working to safeguard the business’s interests. There must be proper HR regulations that ensure the company is compliant with the requirements of the law. Add to that a shrewd accountant who keeps close tabs on company finances so the business pays its fair share of taxes and the IRS has no reason to seek an audit.  


But a solid defense is only part of the picture. Winning soccer organizations and successful businesses both need solid foundations that depend on reliable workhorse types who plow forward relentlessly, no matter the size of the job. These “midfielders” have boundless energy as they move about the field with focused determination. They are the engine that moves their team forward toward its goal.

These midfielders help with both the offense and the defense. They are a critical link between all the others within the organization.

The equivalent in business is those dedicated employees who pull out all stops to advance the goals of the organization. For them, no task is too big or too small.


In soccer, the chances for scoring goals are few and far between so it is critical to move fast when a window of opportunity opens. The same is true in business. If you want to make something happen you must seize the moment, pounce on opportunity and execute with confidence.

In soccer, you have attackers, strikers and forwards. These players’ sole job is to put the ball into the net and they do it well. These players are doggedly focused on the goal of scoring. 

Likewise in business, you have dedicated sales teams whose persistent team members mirror the role of attackers as they look for opportunities to capitalize and “score.” A great sales team should include assertive sales managers and sales associates because business, like soccer, is all about opportunity.

Whether you wear soccer cleats or a business suit, you need people on your team who are relentlessly dedicated to accomplishing your goal. 

Coaching Your Team to Victory

Another key aspect of any soccer team is their coach. Many times the best teams are coached by former players with a firsthand understanding of the game.

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They recruit the best players and must then find a way to get those players to work together. It is a complicated job because talent does not equal harmony.

It is very similar to what senior managers who have worked their way up in a company must do as they build their staff. They must find the most talented workers with the most relevant skillsets and create the right constellation of people who can work together to create magic. 

The best coaches have systems and processes that are built around practice, practice and more practice. They do not just take their team out on the field and hope the players can score. They make plans and they execute against their playbook. 

The same has to be true for a company. Entrepreneurs must write down their goals and have the discipline in work toward accomplishing them while making sure every player is aligned. They must create a plan for success and then follow like a playbook.

And always, it must be a team effort.

 Greatness Means Solidarity

Great players can influence the outcome of a match, but the rock stars can’t do it alone. The teams that are most successful celebrate all their players because winning is a collaborative effort. The worker bees are valued just as much as the standouts because their combined effort gives their team the power it needs to reach the top.

The same holds true in business. The standouts on your team may bring fame but it is the collective effort of all that ensures success.

Pay attention to this artful game and watch carefully how soccer players of all skill levels work together toward a common goal.  Kick start your business with the same kind of energy for a collaborative win. It is all about teamwork.