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Lessons To Learn From The Biggest Blunders In Business

By Dean Laming on April 26th, 2022

There are countless advantages when it comes to starting a business, whether it is enjoying complete autonomy and independence, exercising your creativity and bringing your dreams to life. This doesn’t mean that it is a straightforward or simple journey, however. You will probably experience setbacks and failures alongside your achievements, but this should never discourage you.

Even the most successful businesses have had moments in their past that they would rather forget. In some instances, it has been a misstep of such proportions that the business could never recover. Whilst advice on what you should do is always helpful, advice on what not to do can be just as illuminating.

It’s important to understand these risk and the challenges your business may have to confront as it grows. A mistake is a valuable learning opportunity, and there are certainly lessons to learn from some of the biggest blunders in business. Fortunately, we’ve been spared from going through any such ordeal ourselves, because the following business blunders demonstrate exactly what not to do when you have a business of your own, large or small.

  1. Excite Misses Out On An Opportunity Of A Lifetime
  2. Countless London Publishers Reject Harry Potter
  3. Blockbuster Doesn’t Realise Netflix’s Potential
  4. How Motorola Lost The Phone Market
  5. Coca-Cola Alienates Itself From Its Customers
  6. Another Big Blunder? Not Having Insurance…

Excite Misses Out On An Opportunity Of A Lifetime

Google has become synonymous with the Internet, and it is a household name that has virtually universal recognition. It wasn’t always this way, however. In 1999, Excite was one of the leading search engines and Google hadn’t been around for a particularly long time. At one point, Excite had the chance to purchase Google for $750,000.

With hindsight, this was an incredible proposition considering that Google was to become a corporate giant that is now worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Ultimately, Excite turned down the offer and it was eventually purchased by Ask.com, which is worth significantly less than Google. If Excite had invested in Google when it had the chance to, it truly would have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Countless London Publishers Reject Harry Potter

Considering that the Harry Potter franchise has dominated popular culture for a couple of decades, it might be surprising to learn that at first it was rejected by countless publishers throughout London. J.K. Rowling was subjected to dozens of rejections, and some of these were from the most renowned publishing houses in the world such as Penguin and HarperCollins.

Many of these publishing houses were sceptical of the fantasy realm that J.K. Rowling had created, and they didn’t feel that her book would have a broad enough audience to make it worth their while. Eventually, she came across Bloomsbury and they decided to publish J.K. Rowling’s book. At the time, they were a relatively small publisher and the CEO’s young daughter pleaded with her father to have the book published. To this day, the Harry Potter franchise is as successful as it was twenty years ago, and it is worth billions.

Blockbuster Doesn’t Realise Netflix’s Potential

Long before the first streaming service ever existed, many people would entertain themselves by going to video rental stores. Blockbuster was one of the leading figures within this industry, and it enjoyed considerable success. However, the emergence of the Internet would have a devastating impact on video rental stores and the industry overall, and they have more or less been completely replaced by online streaming services.

More than twenty years ago, however, Blockbuster had the chance to transform its business model and ensure its survival. Netflix offered a proposition – that Blockbuster could purchase and invest in the company and therefore expand its influence beyond renting videos. However, Blockbuster turned down this opportunity, and it was rapidly left behind as the world moved on from renting videos and started streaming instead. Netflix has since become a success; not only streaming entertainment but also creating acclaimed movies and shows as well.

How Motorola Lost The Phone Market

There was a time when Motorola dominated the phone market, and it was the international leader following the debut of its Razr in 2005. However, this incredible success was relatively short-lived. Within a couple of years, the company lost billions of dollars and it was quickly replaced within the market. One reason for this dramatic and unexpected downfall was because Motorola didn’t innovate quite as quickly as it should have. Technology is constantly evolving. The investment needed to innovate and produce technology that is secure as well as user friendly is out of reach for smaller tech businesses. And unfortunately Motorola didn’t implement the latest mobile technologies within its mobile phone models.

The emergence of the state-of-the-art Android technology was therefore devastating for Motorola. Smartphones had overtaken the market at an astonishing pace, and whilst Motorola did eventually adopt these technologies, it had lost the momentum that had driven its initial success. Since then, companies such as Samsung and Apple continue to flourish and thrive, and it is unlikely that Motorola will be in a position to directly compete with them any time soon.

Coca-Cola Alienates Itself From Its Customers

For any company, cultivating a sense of loyalty amongst its customers is one of its foremost priorities. Coca-Cola is one of those companies that has managed to sustain this customer loyalty remarkably well. However, there was a time when Coca-Cola jeopardized the continued devotion of even its most ardent supporters. This happened in 1985, when the company decided to implement changes to its flagship product and introduced a new formula for Classic Cola.

The response to this ‘New Coke’ was one of complete outrage. It sparked public demonstrations, with customers pouring gallons of ‘New Coke’ outside the company’s headquarters in Atlanta. The reaction to this new formula was so negative, and Coca-Cola received so much backlash, that the company quickly backtracked and returned the old formula to stores. This all happened within a couple of months, and the ‘New Coke’ was deemed a catastrophic failure. Following this incident, the company has since focused on creating new products, rather than changing its old ones.

Another Big Blunder? Not Having Insurance…

Blunders can happen to anyone, as demonstrated by these fascinating anecdotes. For some businesses, such as Blockbuster and Motorola, these blunders were fatal mistakes that permanently affected their long-term prospects. For others, such as Coca-Cola, the blunder was a disastrous and unfortunate moment in its history from which it successfully recovered. For a small business, a blunder can be devastating, especially if you don’t have the time or resources of a massive conglomerate such as a Coca-Cola.

One of the biggest blunders that any business can make is not having business insurance. A comprehensive and thorough insurance policy is there to protect your business from any unexpected or unavoidable circumstances. Extreme weather events, an injury or illness, theft and vandalism, loss of earnings and legal claims are just some of the adverse situations that insurance will protect you from. With insurance, your business will be cushioned financially, and you will protected against the risks you and your staff will face.

It is one of the most effective ways to ensure the long-term success of your business, so that it is as blunder-proof as it can possibly be.

Dean Laming

Dean is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 25 years insurance experience. Through various underwriting, operational and management roles, Dean has built up extensive knowledge of how to run a business and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Dean Laming

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