Everyone’s human. Everyone makes mistakes. Perhaps you’ve messed up once or twice. Maybe you wish you sold that Cryptocurrency when you had a chance, or maybe you should have started up with that brilliant business idea before someone else did. Whatever you did, It’s probably not on the same level of some of these costliest business mistakes ever made. So, in no particular order…
Blockbuster Passed On Netflix
There are still so many people out there who remember heading down to Blockbuster on a Friday or Saturday night to rent a video. No, not a DVD (although they came later) but an actual VHS. Blockbuster we’re hugely popular with an international following. In the early 2000’s…Blockbuster had the opportunity to acquire Blockbuster for around $50 Million. Considering they’re now worth north of $30 Billion, it’s fair to say it was a pretty costly business mistake. A mistake which probably led to the demise of Blockbuster as a business entity. Just imagine. If they’d bought it, they would have survived. Sure, the store on the corner may not have, but as an entity…most likely.
Adidas Missing Out On One Of Basketballs Greatest
Signing sports superstars to partner with varying clothing brands is a pretty common occurance. The largest deals are worth tens of millions and are usually contested fiercely by the biggest brands you can imagine. Well, not for Michael Jordan. Adidas refused to give him an offer to join their brand. Even though the star was pretty set on going with them. At the time, Adidas was pretty comfortable in its throne on top of the world of sports apparel. Why? Some say it’s becasue they’re HQ is in Germany…leading to a disconnect with how important and impactful the NBA could be. Anyway, Nike came in and after releasing the Jumpman brand, made in its first year on shoes alone $126 million. In 2019, the Jumpman brand reported its first ever $1b quarter. It’s only going up, even though he’s long retired. Adidas dropped the ball.
Kodak’s Digital Blunder
A good business keeps up with changes around it. Even those at the very top. Technology changes quite quickly these days and if you can’t keep up you can be sure that your competitors will. Well, Kodak messed up in relation to digital cameras and how they pretty much changed the landscape of photography. Where their competitors went all in on digital, they held back. They thought that the film quality was much higher and decided to stick with it. They were right at first. Film was better. But as digital quickly caught up, Kodak were left floundering. They didn’t have the head start the other major companies did meaning they never caught up. The mistake cost them their place as a market leader, a place never found again.
Motorola Said No To The Smartphone
Do you remember the Motorola Razr? That super thin chic phone that everyone seemed to have in 2006? Well, they were market leaders. They were dominating the market with Nokia. It all came to a halt when they refused to go in on the idea of a smartphone. An idea taken up by brands like Apple and Blackberry. Who are the market leaders now? Another business decision to stick to the old and not move with the new. The strange thing here is that Motorola were previously quite innovative…hence the Razr. If they’d taken the plunge and developed the tech at the right time the market might be a lot different right now.
Ford Turned Down Volkswagen…For Free
Yep. Free. After the war Germany was pretty much split between the allies, and Russia. In the British occupation zone, tadt des KdF-Wagens (Volkswagen) opened up once more to provide work for the locals. It was offered up to the American Ford company, as it was previously state owned. However, Henry Ford II called the Volkswagen Beetle a “little box” and said they wanted nothing to do with the car. Whose to say how things would have turned out. One things for sure…they wouldn’t have a key rival that they have at the moment, even in the ownership didn’t work out.
Coca Cola is one of those brands that’s pretty recognisable wherever you see the all popular logo. Even in todays world of sugar avoidance they’re still pretty popular with Coke Zero and Diet Coke still sucking up a huge slug of market share. However, many don’t know about the strange foray in the 80’s. A prime case of a company messing around with a product that simply didn’t need to be messed with. They changed the flavour and branded it as “New Coke”. Imagine the money that went into this. To change the branding, to change the recipe and flavour. To test it, market it, etc. Anyway, you guessed it: everyone hated it. Completely. Only three months passed before the good old flavour was brought back.
The BP Oil Spill
A terrible disaster which saw tonnes of raw oil spilling out into the ever beautiful Gulf of Mexico. The mistake? BP’s previous posturing…posturing which touted that their plants, piping and wells could withstand an explosion 10 times worse than the Deep Horizon explosion. However, when the explosion occurred, the company simply didn’t have a clue. Easy to rectify. Don’t spend years saying how your company is environmentally friendly and cares about the natural world if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to deal with terrible accidents like this. The disaster painted BP as a terrible company…an honour they’ve struggled to shift ever since.
Atari Lose Their Grip On The Gaming Industry
They’re nowhere to be seen in terms of traditional games anymore. The brand is still loved and often used for advertising purposes, and rumour has it they still create games for casinos but Atari were once the market leader in the videogame industry. That’s until the terrible game, E.T, was released. It was the nail in the coffin. The game was utter trash, based on the film of the same name. A lot of people don’t understand why Atari truly went under where the reality is that they simply couldn’t keep up with their competitors while at the same time they made wrong business decisions in terms of poorly designed game. Their critical mistake? Relying on their position as market leader and expecting people to stick with them despite turning out bad products. They went bankrupt in 2013.
Sony Side Stepped The Avengers
In 1998, reportedly, Sony had the chance to buy the rights to all of the Marvel characters. Every single one of them. Instead, they only opted to pick up the rights to Spiderman for £7 Million. They could have had it all and taken a much wider cut of the proceeds of the recent film success. At the same time, the films might not have looked the same. When they bought Spiderman, they reasoned that nobody cared about the other characters…
Why Didn’t Excite Buy Google…
In 1999 Google was fast becoming the go to search engine. However, it wasn’t as dominant as it was today. There were still a few other engines which were pretty powerful. Enter Excite. Google offered itself to Excite for $750,000 with the proviso that Excite use Google’s tech for its search engine. Excite passed. Where are Excite now? They still exist but nowhere near the same capacity of Google who are one of the biggest businesses in the world and the go to search engine. They’re valued at $1Trillion. The third tech company to do so.
When Murdoch Messed Up MySpace
MySpace was the first social network. At least the first one people tend to remember and it could have reached great heights if it wasn’t for meddling Murdoch and his greedy ways. He bought the site for $580 million, realising it had huge potential in terms of ads. But…he pulled the trigger too fast and flooded the site with annoying, in your face ads. Facebook launched with nothing of the sort. Naturally everyone surged to the new platform for a cleaner experience. A huge mistake on Murdoch’s part, leading him to sell up for only $35m. A huge loss. If he was just a little more patient he could be leading the social media charge instead of Facebook.
How To Avoid These Mistakes
We can’t be too critical because it’s so easy to find mistakes when looking back into the past. Especially over such a long time. There’s so much benefit in hindsight, especially in a business narrative. However, the lesson here is to simply take your time. Don’t assume that you know everything because you’re at the top of your game. Life changes fast. As does technology and the mood of the public. Trying to game this won’t work. Instead, listen to knew ideas and try to move with the time as best as you and your business can. Three things stick out:
- Never say no just because you think it will hurt your pride
- Ensure you don’t get comfortable and assume that nobody can knock you off your perch
- Keep a firm eye on your competitors and the technology they’re developing
Hopefully, you won’t make a mistake like these guys.