We live in uncertain but also exciting times if you are a business owner. There is a lot of change about. Every day, when we listen to the news, there are announcements of another wave of redundancies at once-successful retail chains.

Someone once said, ‘Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. Which got me thinking:

Why does a once-successful business fall from favour, and in extreme instances, close their doors for good?



Blockbuster – once a market leader

I was browsing the news and came across this: ‘The last Blockbuster Store has been turned into an Airbnb‘. There used to be a Blockbuster video rental shop on every corner, and there was a time when we all had their borrowing card in our purse or wallet.

I remember in the early 90’s, in simpler (and to be fair, poorer times), how Melissa and I would spend a Friday night. We would get a 1.5l bottle of Lumbrusco (yes, classy!), grab a video like Wayne’s World (yes, cheesy), from Blockbuster, and settle down to enjoy a take away (and yes, tasty!).

What went wrong?

Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix for $50m, in the streaming entertainment service’s early days – but passed up the opportunity, preferring to concentrate on a bricks and mortar policy.

Deliver what your clients want

Revenue (2004 – 2010): Netflix vs Blockbuster. From https://digital.hbs.edu


There were several reasons why Blockbuster ultimately failed:

  • They got too comfortable with success
  • They failed to move with the times
  • They were too late in understanding what their customer was looking for, as wants changed.

They did try and replicate Netflix’s original model by introducing a by-mail service, and they even attempted to use rental kiosks, however they were always playing catch up at this point.

However, by failing to adapt their business model in a timely manner, and failing to recognise the changes in customers needs, a once market leader, sadly, has stopped trading. The last store is now destined to be some sort of quirky, tourist homage to what was once a mighty million-dollar business.

The key lesson learned: deliver what your customers want

In your business, always be mindful of who you are catering for. Yes, we all have a vision of what we want our business to represent, however, if that doesn’t resonate with clients then you run the risk of failure.

If you’re not certain that your business delivers what your customers want then you need to take a step back and reassess. As alternative accountants we offer the usual services you’d expect from an accountant, and more – including helping you to define your business strategic framework and your growth strategy.

Get in touch if you’d like to chat about how we could help you be more Netflix, and less Blockbuster!

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