The similarities between business & football that will help you reach success  

business and football

Competition, teamwork and triumph – all elements of football, right? But what about business too?

So your office may not look like the place for a kick-about but the work that goes on within is certainly reflective.

With leadership status, a team all working towards one goal and that all-important attire representing the organisation you are part of, there are many links between business and football that companies can harness to push for success. The similarities could explain the passion many business leaders have for football – take Lord Alan Sugar for example, an avid Tottenham fan – the only part of him, some would say, isn’t so admirable!

Working as a team

How many times have we witnessed an over-ambitious player yearning for glory as he dribbles his way in-and-out of his opponents to then attempt to boot into the top left hand corner? A lot of the time this fails, and if it doesn’t, it’s either luck or their name is Lionel Messi.

In a football team, you’re not going to pass to someone who you think will hog the ball and risk failure, you’re going to pass to someone who will work cooperatively to help reach the goal – this is exactly parallel to business. Leaders – you can’t do it all on your own, and employees – you need to embrace team work. In fact, the ability to work in a team is one of the top skills that employers look for when recruiting. As they say, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ so this attribute is vital to both football and business.


This may not necessarily happen on pitch but it certainly does off. Team leadership will have to negotiate the transfer of players or investments needed to be made to help get the team to the top of the league. Negotiating in business occurs everyday. Investing in resources, innovation etc all help to make your business a success, so take the negotiations as seriously as if you were fighting for a place at the top of the premier league.


In football, although there’s a manager, there’s also a captain, likewise in business, there is a manager and assistant manager. The leaders give guidance to the team, alongside motivation and reassurance that success will come. This is what businesses should also be aiming for! 41 per cent of companies that encourage colleagues to support one another experienced a significant increase in customer satisfaction, so emboldening your employees will pay off for the business as a whole.

Management should be keeping an eye on their employees but also offer them flexibility and have trust in the way their team are operating. Employees should feel comfortable in approaching any form of leadership for help or to address any concerns they may have – and leaders, it’s your job to make them feel they can!

Always have the goal in site

On the pitch, it’s always the aim to smash the goal – which should be the same in business, whether the goal is large or small, there at least needs to be one in place. As a team, having something to work towards is going to motivate you to reach it, not only quickly, but with as much success as possible. Think of the football as a metaphorical task – the players are your colleagues, the pitch markings reflect the stages you’ve reached and the opponents are the hurdles you face. With this in mind, it’s a good way to maintain focus to drive forward, especially if you picture yourself playing for your desired team with the crowds cheering you on. Oh, the crowds – they are the surrounding support, whether that be family, friends or clients – think of them to help you reach your goal.

Representing your team

You stride out with your surname and associated number on your back but what’s more important is that badge on the front. With programmes being distributed, the pressure for your team to win is building but whatever you do, you’re wearing that top with the almighty Hammers badge on and you’re now representing the team.

In business, your name is associated to others for having a particular role within a company, whether that be assistant manager, consultant or supervisor, you represent your organisation through the role in which you undertake. Hence the reason many opt to have separate personal and business social media/email accounts. Whatever you do reflects the company you are a part of, so bear this in mind.

Think of programmes in football as your business cards, if you want to promote a game, you’ve got to get the programmes out there, likewise if you want to promote your business, you’ve got to get your name spreading. Business cards are your programmes, so give them out and promote the work you do.

Give the team the recognition they deserve

Player of the Season or Employee of the Month? Having some sort of employee rewards system is a great incentive to make them work to their full potential.

Employee incentives are known to help boost employee retention, which is good for businesses – so much so that a 5 per cent increase in employee retention can generate a 25 per cent to 85 per cent increase in profitability. Funnily enough, even though 90 per cent of business leaders believe that an engagement strategy could positively impact their business, only 25 per cent of them actually have a strategy in place.

Having a rewards system will even help future members of your work, as more than 4 in 10 employees consider rewards and recognition programme opportunities when seeking employment.

So, go gather your team, work hard and smash your goals.