There are loads of statistics about how many small businesses fail, the perception being that small businesses are less capable, or more likely to make mistakes, which is why big companies last and small businesses fall away.
So let’s give a little boost to the small business by looking at some of the biggest business blunders from the big boys.
OK pop pickers, in at 5…
In 1982 Steven Spielberg released ET. There is a scene in the film where Elliott lures ET out of the hiding in the wardrobe by leaving a trail of sweets. Spielberg originally approached Mars as he wanted to use a trail of M&Ms, Mars refused permission.
Instead of M&Ms, Spielberg used ‘Reece’s Pieces’ sweets. Sales of ‘Reece’s Pieces’ jumped 65% on release of the film… Business blunder.
Excite vs Google
In the early 90’s Google’s owners approached a then larger search engine ‘Excite’ wanting to sell Google for $1m, they then reduced their asking price to $750k. Excite refused to buy, after all they didn’t need Google.
Ultimately Excite was bought by ‘Ask Jeeves’, Google is now worth $340bn and brings in revenue of $50bn per annum…. Business blunder.
Decca Records, Just Let It Be
New years day 1961. A band turned up at Decca records. Mike Smith of Decca Records decided against signing the band because;
‘Guitar bands are on their way out..’
Fair call? That band was The Beatles, what ever happened to them? Maybe a small business blunder there….
Netflix or Blockbuster?
In the early 2000’s Netflix CEO Reed Hastings courted Blockbuster chief John Antioco with an offer for Blockbuster to purchase Netflix for $50m. At the time Netflix were a DVD by post operation. The following quote came from a high ranking Blockbuster official at that time;
“But management and vision are two separate things…. We had the option to buy Netflix for $50 million and we didn’t do it. They were losing money. They came around a few times”
Today there are no Blockbuster stores left in the UK, a few worldwide remain. Netlfix is valued at close to $13bn… Business Blunder? We think so…
Apple & Xerox
In the 1970’s Xerox had developed several new technologies that it never did anything with, after all the main Xerox business worked great. One of these technologies was a Graphical User Interface (GUI), a way of using graphics to control a compute rather than words. Xerox had also developed a personal computer.
In the 1980’s Apple gave Xerox $1m of stock to allow a few of it’s employees (Including a certain Steve Jobs) to visit Xerox for a few days.
These guys leveraged what they learnt and Apple never looked back, with Apple now worth something over $110bn. Xerox did try and sue unsuccessfully.
Business blunder? Yes. But look on the bright side, Xerox’s $1m worth of stock is now worth quite a bit more…
Business blunders happen. Every business makes blunders, not just small companies. Any questions about the article then please contact us via the website of add your comments above.
By David Farmer