Things move fast for businesses nowadays. Both small and large businesses alike are at risk of a financial catastrophe. Of course, such an event could be avoided through careful cash flow management, effective marketing strategies, good customer retention, and constant innovation.
Financial crises do not discriminate. These four popular companies had come close to bankruptcy but managed to reverse their situation and continued to be relevant in today’s fast-shifting market. Let’s take a look at their stories and see how they executed an effective financial turnaround strategy.
Apple’s successful return to the market is one of the greatest comeback stories in the business world. It bounced back from the brink of bankruptcy in 1997 to excellent financial health. From a catastrophe, the company grew and is worth $2.43 trillion as of 2021. Steve Jobs’ turnaround strategy mainly involved two things: cash flow management, and innovation.
Jobs returned to the company in 1997, when then Chief Executive Officer Gil Amelio stepped down. As the new CEO, Jobs faced a major restructuring task. He got to work discontinuing several projects to free up vital resources. Jobs also redirected efforts to developing Apple’s first breakthrough product in decades. This was the iMac, which Apple launched in 1998 to positive reception.
Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple continued to push innovative products like the iPod portable music device, the Apple Store, the iTunes software, and the iPhone series. The company also steadily reported profits despite close competition from Google in the mobile industry.
Nintendo is well-known for its intellectual properties like Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda. The company persisted as a console manufacturer throughout the 1990s, and through the first decade of the New Millenium despite stiff competition from Sony and Microsoft.
Nintendo’s slump began in 2012 when it released the successor to its Wii gaming system, the Wii U. The Wii U was plagued by problems in the user interface, the pricing schemes, and its limited game library. Experts said that the console featured little innovation, and gave new users no motivation in its line of games.
The Wii U eventually became one of the company’s worst-selling game consoles and was discontinued after only 4 years. The console manufacturer also suffered losses for five consecutive years. Nintendo reported its biggest loss in five years of about $232 million in the first quarter of 2016.
Nintendo eventually bounced back with the Switch console, which experts and gamers described as a highly improved version of the Wii U. The Switch was launched on March 3, 2017, selling more than 14 million units by January of 2018. The console’s sales surpassed that of the Wii U by June 30, 2019.
Ford is remarkable for surviving the Great Depression more than a hundred years ago and the Great Recession of 2008. Ford’s Great Recession story is similar to Apple. The company had grown so big that it had, under its umbrella, numerous brands. Despite that, the firm still posted losses of $12.7 billion in 2006.
CEO Allan Mulally embarked on a “unification” process that the company dubbed as the One Ford initiative. Mulally aimed to implement a single strategy and approach across all the brands under Ford. This vision involved extensive coordination and communications with Ford’s global manpower.
Mulally’s efforts paid off in just 4 years. By 2010, Ford posted net profits of $6.6 billion. Mulally’s strategy also allowed Ford to decline the US government’s TARP bailout program and avoid bankruptcy.
Like Ford, Starbucks’ story is tied closely with the Great Recession of 2008. The crisis compelled Starbucks to close down 1,000 of its 6,000 stores in the United States. The company also experienced losses of 28% by 2010, but original owner Howard Schultz stepped in to remedy the situation.
Starbucks had grown steadily since it was first incorporated in Seattle in 1971. The growth turned the company into a bureaucratic machine. Schultz immediately recognized that focusing on customer retention is key to surviving the crisis. He immediately launched the My Starbucks Idea project in 2008 to enlist the help of the community in reshaping the company amidst the recession.
It was an immense success. Starbucks recovered from the financial crisis and continued growing. It currently has roughly 350,000 employees worldwide, earning revenues of $23.5 billion as of the fiscal year 2020.
Coming near to bankruptcy is a reality even for bigger companies. However, these four companies demonstrated that it is possible to surmount the challenges as long as there is a financial turnaround strategy.