Finding success when the odds are stacked against you

According to MIT boffins, Australia has 0.1 percent chance of winning the World Cup – why even turn up?

MIT crunched the numbers from 100,000 simulations and the news ain’t great for the Socceroos. That doesn’t mean they can’t have a successful World Cup – it depends on your definition of success is.

Going into business is a long shot if success, to you, is a bulging bank account at being the head of a unicorn startup.

Startups have a huge rate of failure but they give it a crack anyway, and the world is better for it.

So too, every single World Cup team enters the tournament with a burning ambition to win the final – but 31 teams out of 32 won’t.

Even MIT’s favourite, Spain, has a 17.8 percent chance of winning the tournament (although it didn’t predict its manager would be fire two days out).

Eighteen teams competing have less than a 1 percent chance of lifting the World Cup trophy.

The odds make winning a fantasy to all but the favoured teams, so how do the minnows define success?


Placing the foundations for future success


A lot of teams go into the World Cup with a desire to win … one day.

While it may be dreaming for them to win this time, this tournament provides a great springboard for the teams to give the World Cup a real shake in four or eight years’ time.

Countries placing faith in their youth have done so for very particular reasons.

Besides having great players on the international scene, they know the tournament is a rich learning experience for the teams’ players and staff.

In much the same way, startup founders are unlikely to strike gold with their first startup.

READ ON: Finding success in business failure

Failure is often seen as a prerequisite in startup land – the lessons learnt from what doesn’t work are stepping stones to success.

When smart people fail, they learn from it instead of shoving the memory in the back of the wardrobe like a coat bought on a whim and regretted later.

Learn and you’ll be in a better shape to face the next opportunity. Evolve with each opportunity and you’re in a better position to succeed.


Success is more intrinsic than being at the top


Many teams will go to Russia wanting to be the all-out winner, knowing that they probably won’t be.

Instead, they’ll hope to give their nations something so intrinsic and deeply felt that it’s hard to put a metric around it. Pride.

Many Dutch nationals have more pride in their 1974 World Cup side than their 2010 World Cup side.

Both sides reached the World Cup Final, but the 1974 side displayed moments of genius that have lived long in the memory banks.

The 2010 side did well to reach the Cup Final but are remembered for a robust approach to that match.

Some sides will take pride in having a real crack at the big boys by playing flowing football. Others will take pride in making it as hard as possible for other teams to beat them.

In much the same way, success in business can be very intrinsic.

There are many businesses defining success by how they helped solve a particular problem or helped society at large rather than their profits.

When you define success in an intrinsic way, it’s hard to put a simple number next to it.


The joy of the game


While plenty of teams will go to Russia with a hard-nosed approach and a determination to win, at its best, football is an expression of joy.

It’s why people find  Brazil’s Jogo Bonito more enjoyable than Italy’s Catenaccio.

So too, hustling for startup or small business success is, in itself, kind of thrilling.

Solving the unique headaches of running a business, particularly a small business, is some of the most satisfying work you’ll do.

When you’re solving those business problems rather than for somebody else – it’s doubly so.

Luckily, MYOB has a raft of tools available to help you get the busy work done and dusted so you can go back to solving the big challenges facing your business – the fun part.