4 Things that Aspiring Entrepreneurs can learn from the England Rugby Team

As we enter November and preparations for Global Entrepreneurship Week begin around the World, Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean of Staffordshire Business School reflects on sporting success, failure and the qualities of a successful entrepreneur


Mention the title entrepreneur and who do you think of? Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Anita Roddick? These famous names are just the tip of the iceberg – actually there are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. So with a world population of 7.7 billion, this means that there is approximately a 1 in 13 chance that you are or will become an entrepreneur!

Whilst cheering the England boys along in the Rugby World Cup recently, it has occurred to me that our team offers a few tips for budding entrepreneurs. England last won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, so the battle continues after 16 years of knock backs and failed efforts. Disappointment in the finals, losing against the Springboks shouldn’t lessen acknowledgement of the victory that we saw just one week earlier, when England beat the All Blacks to claim their place in the finals.

So, what can the budding entrepreneur learn from a team of brawny sportsmen who crashed out at the final hurdle?

1. Never give up

The odds were against our England boys in the semi-finals against the All Blacks, but they stood proud and strong as they faced their nemesis, determined not to give up or let the competition threaten them.

Even after suffering a crushing defeat in the finals the England team should take time to recognise what they have achieved over the course of the competition. As coach Eddie Jones said after the game, they “didn’t meet their goal to be the best team in the World, but they are the second best team in the World, so that’s how they should be remembered”.

Nothing is impossible. At times you will probably make wrong decisions, feeling like everything is going against you, but when the chips are down you need to stand strong – pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again. It’s all about resilience and the ability to bounce back from adversity.

2. Everyone needs a team

Individually you can be brilliant, but with the support of a strong team you can be amazing! As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work! The phrase is said to be coined by John Maxwell, an American clergyman, who went on to say, “but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team”. Even the most successful entrepreneur has a team around them and it is often the hard work and determination of the team that makes sure the entrepreneurial dream becomes a reality.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

England captain Owen Farrell converted some magnificent tries throughout the competition, but the ability to kick a peculiarly shaped ball between two goal posts would not win a match without the hard work of his teammates, battling the opposing side tirelessly and creating opportunities for conversion.

3. Don’t be intimidated

Starting out as an entrepreneur, there will always be people who will tell you that you’re wrong, you’ve no idea, you’re living in cloud cuckoo land! It’s important to have the courage of your convictions and not to be deterred. You have a vision and you need to hold true to that – don’t be put off or intimidated by others. Face your fears, hold your head high and believe in yourself.

The Haka, a ceremonial dance complete with angry faces, stamping of feet and what could be perceived as threatening growls, was performed as expected prior to the England versus All Blacks semi-finals in the Rugby World Cup. The England team stood strong, forming a v-shaped formation and showing that they were not intimidated in any way. Their response, as reported in The Guardian said “Challenge laid down, challenge accepted”

Image from https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/oct/26/england-haka-response-eddie-jones-idea-rugby-world-cup

4. Look after yourself

We wouldn’t expect a professional team to play an energetic and bruising game like rugby, day after day without giving their bodies time to rest. World cup tournaments are planned to allow rest days between games, in recognition of the fact that teams need to rest and reform. A week between the semi-finals and the finals in the Rugby World Cup gave the England team time to recover, rest and prepare themselves mentally and physically for the all important culmination of years of training.

Creative thinking, invention, innovation and challenging the norm can be hard work. There will be days when everything falls apart and your risks are costly, times when you feel you can’t go on. It’s at times like these that you need to take time out to rest. Downtime is crucial – learning how to balance work and rest is essential to avoid burnout.


About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24 November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

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