In the blink of an eye, we're coming to the end of a dejecting 2020. For some business, it is still unclear what the future holds - it may look bleak while resources are still very limited. However, despite the dreary outlook, the opportunity to make a comeback is still present – with a ton of hard work and a dose of ingenuity.
During the SARS crisis in 2003, 400 of Alibaba’s employees were quarantined for exposure to SARS during a trade show in Guangzhou. Immediately, Co-founder Jack Ma rallied the team to bring their desktop computers home and re-route customer phone calls to home landlines. The show went on – online and seamlessly – with many customers unaware that the company was working from quarantine. During this time, Alibaba also launched its most lucrative business unit – Taobao.
2. Ruby Tuesday
In Hong Kong, American restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday regained 30% of its lost customers by reinforcing sanitisation measures and offering half-off sales promotions. It also employed a ‘hygiene ambassador’ to greet customers and offer antibacterial wipes, boosting customers’ confidence in the restaurants’ hygiene.
Before Evan Williams co-founded Twitter, he launched Blogger, which unfortunately flopped in 2000. After laying off his employees, Williams persisted on his own and in 2003, his startup was bought over by Google. Later, he eventually stepped out to co-found popular micro-blogging service, Twitter.
When the 2008 financial crisis hit, Evernote’s investor pulled out at the last minute. With only three weeks of funds remaining, the note-taking company closed down. Out of the blue, a Swedish investor contacted then-CEO Phil Libin. He shared that the application had changed his life and offered an investment sum of $500,000. Today, Evernote has bounced back and is doing better than before.
5. Corcoran Group
Founder Barbara Corcoran was penning down a solemn address to her employees with the news of the real estate company’s bankruptcy. In the middle of it, she recalled 88 apartments owned by an insurance company that did not want an auction.
She sprang into action and started pricing the apartments and within a week, the company went from a $348,000 debt to making $1.2 million in profits and commissions. In an interview, she shared that the will to survive is “probably the most important trait if you’re going to build a business”.
6. Halo Top
The ice cream brand was about to go bust in 2013 with its founder Justin Woolverton wallowing in a $250,000 debt. By sheer desperation and determination, Woolverton and his team went on a fund-raising campaign that gathered $1 million. Friends and family were given promissory notes stating that loan payment would be at a rate of 150%. By 2017, Halo Top was one of America’s top-selling food brand.
In 2014, Outreach was a recruiting software company called GroupTalent. It was near bankruptcy with only two months’ funds left and its co-founders were at a loss. Other than their recruiting software, the co-founders also created an internal work-flow application that automated cold-calling and follow-up emails. By sheer luck, word got around and the application grabbed many people’s attention. GroupTalent quickly rebranded as Outreach and the software was launched in 2015. By 2016, achieved an annual revenue of $10 million.
Hope For Companies
So, there is still hope for many companies as they can draw references and lessons from those who survived. We also have lots of our small local stories which saw companies explore new business / revenue streams too! If you're an entrepreneur, keep going; and if you're not, do support those who are :-)