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Learning from the Past: 5 Business Failures and Why They Happened


Failure is an inevitable part of business. Every entrepreneur knows that success comes with hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of luck. However, what happens when despite your best efforts, your business fails? In this post, we will take a deep dive into five well-known business failures, analyzing what went wrong and what can be learned from their mistakes.


1. Blockbuster:

Blockbuster (Bend, Oregon) - Wikipedia

In the early 2000s, Blockbuster was a household name. With over 9,000 stores worldwide, it was the go-to place for renting movies and video games. So, what happened? Blockbuster was slow to adapt to the changing times. The rise of digital streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime meant that people no longer needed to leave their homes to watch movies. Blockbuster failed to see the potential of online streaming and instead focused on the physical rental model. By the time they tried to catch up, it was too late—they filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Lesson learned: Businesses need to stay up-to-date with changing technologies and consumer demand. Don’t be afraid to pivot if necessary.

2. Kodak:

Kodak (@Kodak) / X

Kodak was once a dominant player in the photography industry. However, in the 1990s, they missed the opportunity to embrace digital photography. They continued to focus on traditional film cameras and failed to see the potential of digital cameras. This lack of foresight meant that Kodak lost out to other companies like Canon and Nikon. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Lesson learned: Businesses must adapt to new technologies or face falling behind their competitors.

3. Toys R Us:

Macy's Toys R Us shops open nationwide with 9 days of free events

Toys R Us was once the largest toy store in the world. However, in 2017, they filed for bankruptcy. Why? A combination of factors, including the rise of online shopping and a failure to innovate, contributed to their downfall. Toys R Us struggled to compete with online retail giants like Amazon, who offered a wider selection of products and better prices. Additionally, Toys R Us neglected to create an engaging customer experience, which ultimately led to their demise.

Lesson learned: Provide customers with a seamless, engaging experience in-store and online. Use technology to your advantage.

4. DeLorean Motor Company:


DeLorean is known for what is arguably the coolest car in history, the DeLorean DMC-12. However, despite the car’s popularity, the company failed to turn a profit. The reason was simple: John DeLorean, the founder, spent more time on sales and marketing than he did on the actual business operations. This lack of attention to the details and finances meant that the company was doomed from the start.

Lesson learned: Have a solid business plan and focus on the details. Don’t let unnecessary distractions derail your business.

5. MySpace:

MySpace Launches New Music Player, Search Function, Facebook Integration –  The Hollywood Reporter

Before Facebook, there was MySpace. At its peak, MySpace had over 160 million active users. However, they failed to keep up with Facebook’s innovation and adaptability. MySpace was slow to make changes to their platform, and their constant redesigns confused users. The lack of user-friendliness and cluttered design ultimately led to MySpace’s downfall.

Lesson learned: Adapt and change with your audience. Make user experience a priority.


These five examples show that business failure can happen to anyone. However, by analyzing what went wrong, we can learn from their mistakes and avoid making the same errors in our own businesses. Key takeaways include staying up-to-date with consumer demand, using technology to our advantage, providing engaging customer experiences, focusing on the details, and adapting to new trends. By doing so, we can increase our chances of success and longevity in a constantly evolving business landscape.