Soccer fans anticipated a tough match-up between Brazil and Germany in the World Cup semi-final yesterday. No one expected the Germans to score five goals within the first half hour of the game, ultimately slaying the host team seven to one. It was one of Brazil's greatest losses to date, let alone in a major championship. By sundown, Brazilians were burning flags in their own streets, and the tortured faces of soccer fans were plastered across the Web. 

The World Cup has proven an effective marketing platform for brands (see how businesses could take advantage of the conversation), as well as a morale booster for employees, albeit a slight drag on productivity. Still, here are four business lessons to be learned from Brazil's defeat, when you face up against the Germanys of today's market:

1. There's No "I" in Team

Many are attributing yesterday's loss to the absence of two of Brazil's star players, Neymar and Thiago Silva. While it's always good to have individuals you can count on, ensure that your business shoulders the burden collectively. Every employee should be talented in their own right and capable of functioning independently. If they aren't, you could find yourself taking a massive hit when that one perfect worker--God forbid your CEO--is suddenly out of commission.

2. Don't Get Too Comfortable In Your Success

Brazil is by no means a minnow of the competitive soccer scene. A pre-tournament favorite, the team hadn't lost a competitive home game since 1975. Similarly, your business may be coming off of a good month, six months, or even a year. But don't let your guard down. In a rapidly shifting economic climate, you don't want to be blindsided by the competition.

3. Don't Underestimate the Competition

Brazil had failed to account for the strength of the German offense, bolstered by a so-called "14-year plan." Launched in 2002 after Germany's embarrassing performance in the 2000 European Championship, the Deutscher Fussbal Bund vowed to seek out talented German kids, then train them from the start for competitive soccer. Talk about dedication to the sport.

Even if you're enjoying great success, look out for the hot new brands that can--and will--become your competition. What might have happened had Brazil done so?

4. Don't Upset the Regulators

In soccer and in business, there are times when you have to play dirty. But be careful not to take it too far. Brazil's Thiago Silva was suspended from the semi-final for receiving a second yellow card in the previous match--he inexplicably attempted to steal the ball from the Colombian goalie. If you want to take this to the extreme, look at what happened with the real-life "Wolf of Wall Street," Jordan Belfort. As Slate pointed out, for FBI agent Gregory Coleman it was the "flashiness" and "blatantness" of Stratton Oakmont's behavior that led him to investigate the brokerage firm-- and to ultimately convict Belfort for his numerous financial crimes. 

Brazil's defeat meant more than just losing a match. It was a crushing upset on home turf, with serious social and political implications. Learn from their mistakes so that your company doesn't take an unexpected hit. 

Published on: Jul 9, 2014