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10 businesses that failed to adapt
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10 businesses that failed to adapt

Some businesses thrive when they need to change or adapt. Innovators grab the bull by the horns and steer the market into the next iPhone or Google. But, some don’t realise that in order to be successful, you need to embrace change. 

If you run your own business, or work in a department where you're charged with a certain level of responsibility and accountability, it's essential you have certain key business skills. We offer a range of online and virtual classroom training courses, which will help fill any gaps you may have.   

Before we get started, if you're considering a career change, we have developed a series of helpful articles for career changers:

e-Careers lists 10 businesses that failed to adapt

(Disclaimer: Although they failed to adapt, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t still operating. Keep an eye out to see which ones you remember/know are still running today!)

1. Blockbuster

Profile: Blockbuster is a former provider of movies and video game rental services. At its peak, Blockbuster employed 84,000 people worldwide and had over 9,000 outlets. Their quantity and variety of titles meant they were head and shoulders above most other rental stores.

Demise: The rise of Netflix and on-demand streaming meant that Blockbuster’s business model needed to change, but unfortunately, it didn’t. Blockbuster didn’t change with the times by adopting a trend which would ultimately prove to be its downfall. Former Marketing Communications leader, Jonathan Salem Baskin stated:” Digital would have changed Blockbuster's business, for sure, but it wasn't its killer, that credit belongs to Blockbuster itself."

2. Enron

Profile: Enron was an American energy, commodities, and service company which was founded after the merger of Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth. Enron employed 20,000 staff and was seen as one of the world’s major electricity, natural gas and communications companies. It was named as America’s most innovative company for six consecutive years by Fortune magazine.

Demise: Enron’s demise came after a scandal revealed that fraud and corruption was rife in the company. They used a variety of deceptive and fraudulent accounting practices and tactics to hide fraud in their accounting information. They were basically using any projected or potential profits from any asset and bringing them across as reality, when they weren’t (more can be read on that here)

3. Blackberry

Profile: At one point, there were 80 million Blackberry users in the world, including the likes of former U.S President, Barack Obama, who only ditched his in 2016. In the mid to late-2000’s, the primary mode of business and personal communication was carried out on Blackberry Messenger, with everyone wanting to know your pin.

Demise: In short, the iPhone. Blackberry ignored touch screen based technology, and Apple started to dominate the mobile market by promoting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) standards and guidelines within companies. There were rumours in 2014 that Blackberry were working on a Siri-like voice assistant called Blackberry Assistant, a full three years after Apple had integrated Siri into all their devices. Blackberry’s failure to innovate meant they were quickly down to a market share of 0.2% by early 2016.

4. Kodak

Profile: Founded in 1888, Kodak was the market leader in photographic film throughout the 20th century. They produced the “Kodak moment” tagline which was utilised everywhere, and they even received glowing recommendations from musician Pitbull in his “Give Me Everything” hit.

Demise: Kodak were scared to innovate. In 1975, they developed the first digital camera but dropped the product due to fear of it cannibalising their photographic film juggernaut. Digital then took over and Kodak’s rivals, including Fuji, managed to outlive the former photo kings. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012, re-emerging in 2013, much smaller and focusing on serving commercial clients.

5. Sears

Profile: Sears made catalogues a thing. Remember that the next time you’re reminiscing about the Argos catalogue and how turning to page 298 to find your chosen product was a weight-lifting work out you had to warm up for. Sears was the largest retailer in America until 1989, when Walmart took over.

Demise: As competition from the likes of Walmart, Target and even e-Commerce giants Amazon, continued to grow, Sears did nothing to build. They stagnated. Their decline has been so sudden that many financial experts expect Sears, and sister company Kmart, to go defunct in 2018.

6. Pan-Am

Profile: Pan American World Airways (Pan-Am) was the largest international air carrier in the United States. They were the first airline to offer computerised reservation systems and jumbo jets, which propelled them to the status of industry innovator.

Demise: Pan Am over-invested in their existing business model and didn’t invest in future plans, or even alternatives. Their prime transatlantic routes started bringing in losses due to the invasion of Kuwait which started the first Gulf War, causing fuel prices to rise, adding to the shock of the Lockerbie disaster in 1988. Pan Am filed for bankruptcy protection in 1991, with Delta Air Lines purchasing remaining profitable assets for $416 million.

7. MySpace

Profile: Personally, I was never a massive fan of MySpace, but, I can see why people were. MySpace was the largest social networking site in the world between 2004 and 2009, surpassing Google in 2006 as the most visited website in America. Many musicians found fame through MySpace, including Arctic Monkeys, Sean Kingston and Lily Allen.

Demise: Facebook. Facebook climbed into the ring with better user experience and the ability to help people to connect through more than just music, which MySpace basically turned into with bands and artists uploading their songs and mixtapes non-stop. With Facebook, users were able to connect with friends, both current and past through hobbies and interests in common. Something which has contributed to them becoming a social networking giant, with over 2 billion monthly active users.

8. Yahoo

Profile: In 2016, Yahoo was the highest-read news and media website, with over 7 billion monthly views, the sixth most visited website in the world. In 2005, they owned 21% of the online advertising market, a statistic which meant they were the market leaders. In 2011, Yahoo’s email service had 281 million users, making them the third largest web-based email service provider in the world.

Demise: Their growth was mismanaged. They already held a number one position, but in their dreams of becoming an online portal instead of carrying on to dominate search, they outsourced their search engine to Microsoft Bing. Yahoo struck a deal to buy Google for $5billion in 2002, they refused to splash the cash. Yahoo had a deal to buy Facebook for $1 billion in 2006, before lowering the offer price, causing Mark Zuckerberg to back out. Facebook now has a stock price of $163 billion, as of 22nd March 2018. Yahoo are now fourth in the list of biggest online advertisers, a position which they are struggling to maintain.

9. Polaroid

Profile: Well, looky here, another camera provider. Polaroid’s instant film and cameras allowed their peak revenue to hit $3 billion in 1991. They held the patent to their instant photography process, which lead to them being the iconic name behind the procedure, something they are still referred to in 2018.

Demise: Another camera provider, another one that bit the dust because they didn’t anticipate the impact digital cameras would have. Polaroid Corporation was declared bankrupt in 2001, a mere decade after posting their highest ever revenue for a single year.

10. Xerox

Profile: Xerox launched the Xerox 914 photocopier in 1958 and it revolutionised document printing. It is considered the most successful single product of all time, gaining Xerox $60 million in revenue in just three years, climbing up to over $500 million by 1965.

Demise: Xerox’s problem was their own inventions were shunned by their own directors. Researchers and engineers at Xerox invented several elements of personal computing, but the board of directors instructed the engineers to share them with Apple technicians. These concepts were then adopted by Apple and Microsoft who turned into the two dominating businesses in computing, whereas Xerox were left behind in comparison.

e-Careers offers business Analysis courses, so you can sharpen your business acumen, commerciality and entrepreneurial skills. You will also understand how you can generate a business strategy which can be sustained and used as a foundation for growth. 70% of businesses fail in the first 18 months, make sure your business isn't one doomed for failure.

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