Nothing Lasts Forever – The Fall of Fortune 500 Companies

Every company, no matter how big they are, eventually dies. I know its hard to believe because there are a lot of brands that have been around for as long as we can remember – but it’ll happen eventually. Here are just a few from the past two years:

Big Brands That Are Gone as of ’09/’10

  • Pontiac
  • Saturn
  • Hummer
  • Mercury
  • Circuit City
  • Ritz Camera Centers
  • KB Toys
  • Anheuser-Busch

Ok, so technically Anheuser-Busch is still around since they were bought out by InBev, but the company is really no longer there – the culture has changed dramatically. Here is a link directly to the changes implemented since the acquisition by InBev Anheuser-Busch Wiki.

It’s easy to chalk all of these company closings to a bad economy and the recession, but unless you do it spectacularly (ahem, Bear Sterns), a fall from grace doesn’t happen overnight. Usually its more of a slow death. Need more proof? Compare the list of Fortune 500 companies between 1959 until 2009. Within that 50 year time period, only 72 companies appear on both lists.  Whether it was bankruptcy, mergers, or going private – 86% of the original companies are gone.

The problem here is complacency. If a business becomes complacent they become stagnant, and a stagnant business is fat and lazy, missing not only what their competitors are doing, but ultimately what connects customers to their products.

You know what killed Anheuser-Busch? Craft Brews – small independent breweries that went back to tradition, coming up with ingenius brew processes, ingredient combinations, and giving consumers something that they ultimately wanted – great tasting and interesting beer!

Bottom line: if you dont care for your customers, then they wont care about you.

This is true for both large and small businesses. In fact, I’ll even say that it’s even more important for small businesses to get this right, especially in the early stages. Small businesses fail because they either cant offer anything unique, or because they are too focused on running the daily operations that they fail to keep their eyes on the horizon for opportunities.

So keep being boring with your wooden toys and see what happens when you dont deliver the latest and greatest.

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