Plenty of great companies have started up and thrived during tough times,… plenty of others that have been in existence, have managed to pivot and take advantage of challenging environments.
Wars, depressions, technological revolutions, pandemics… It’s not always easy, but it is possible to get going or transition your business and thrive. The trick is to focus on offering value: find what it is that people want or need and can afford right now – then deliver.
Here are some fantastic companies to inspire you…
General Electric Company
American conglomerate General Electric Company (GE) formed then incorporated in 1889 as Edison General Electric Company. The company managed to establish itself in spite of the Depression and, over the decades through wars, technological change and recessions, has thrived by diversifying into aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital industry, additive manufacturing, and venture capital and finance.
In 2019, GE ranked among the Fortune 500 as the 21st-largest firm in the United States by gross revenue.
The Whitely Corporation
When the Australian General Disinfectant Company was formed in 1933, Australia was in the midst of the Great Depression. Unemployment stood at 32%, and there’d been a sharp decline in international trade. To survive, the NSW-based company turned to local supply lines and invested in research and development. Almost 80 years on, now called The Whitely Corporation, innovation has again saved the company and placed it firmly on a new growth pathway. This time, as the first cleaning product manufacturer in Australia to receive approval to legally claim that its disinfectant kills coronavirus!
In 2000, just before global digital transformation upended the way we work and communicate, FujiFilm’s film sales accounted for 60% of its revenue and 66% of its operating income. Then, in 2001, film sales peaked worldwide before they began to shrink– slowly at first, then at a rate of 20-30% a year as demand for the photographic film fell.
To add to the pain, as basic digital cameras became increasingly popular, more and more companies stepped in to manufacture them, creating even greater competition and commercial pressure.
Fujifilm road out this period of rapid and significant change, by using its key competencies to diversify. Initially, the company downscaled production lines, closed redundant facilities and switched its focus to research and development with the aim of innovation.
By leveraging its photo film technologies, it created FUJITAC to manufacture a variety of high-performance film essentials for making LCD panels for TVs, computers, and smartphones. And, by leveraging its knowledge of gelatin, it began developing cosmetics.
Today the company is active in many areas of business, from imaging and industrial products through to healthcare, optical devices and recording systems.
It took many years and extraordinary tenacity for Walt Disney to find success. He struggled as a child and often escaped the trauma of an abusive father by immersing himself in drawing. As a young man, he went to war, and on his return set up a cartoon business that went bankrupt. Then he created the highly successful animated character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, only to find his producer took the legal rights and his animators.
Walt Disney battled on, this time bringing Mickey Mouse to life on film, only to have his concept refused by bankers 300 times before finding a financier. The wins and losses continued until eventually after World War 2; he diversified from his successes in film into television. In 1955, when he opened Disneyland, he was met with more challenges, with forged tickets, long queues, intense heat and more causing the opening day to be referred to as “Black Sunday”.
Today of course, Disneyland is a massive business empire, and those struggles are just part of a colourful corporate history.
As Disney once said: “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all the troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Pivot, Grow and Thrive
At the Ayers Group, we can connect you with experts in the field to advise you on how to drive your business through challenging times. We can also relieve you of the burden of managing your business with payroll solutions, contractor management and more. Talk to an expert from the Ayers Group today and get back to growing your business and your wealth.
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