Top Five Leadership Lessons from Businesses That Failed



Business success is matchlessly rewarding, but its failure is often more painful. Unfortunately, many companies fail after tasting success in the first few years.  Failure might occur due to a lack of proper planning and leadership strategies, insufficient financing, ineffective marketing, poor management, inability to adapt to market changes, and legal problems. Leadership skills in business are essential to manage all aspects of an organization, including its future. Leadership lessons from businesses that are successful or fail play equally important roles in the journey of modern-day business leaders and businesses. Here are the top 5 businesses that failed to create their market and adopt the trends. 

Foodpanda in India

Foodpanda was among the first to enter the online food delivery market in India. The company correctly identified a deficiency in the Indian market—insufficient home delivery choices for food.

Once the initial challenges arose in the form of customer complaints, the company started giving out discount coupons and freebies as compensation for constantly providing low-quality services. This was a major hit to profitability. As a business that operates a food delivery app, it is reasonable to assume that technology and data play a significant role in driving operations. The app was not successfully transmitting user orders to the restaurants.

The restaurants that were included on the app occasionally turned out to be non-existent! The technical problems with the app were severe and had a significant impact on Foodpanda's decline in reputation. The user did not have a smooth experience on the app either. This includes all individuals who use it, including customers, restaurants, and delivery partners. On the other hand, Foodpanda had a problem with communication among its employees. The owners left without informing the employees, leaving them to deal with operational challenges on their own.

Employees within the office were not satisfied, which was a significant factor affecting the internal environment. Because of false information, unclear communication channels, and a lack of transparency from upper management, employees started resigning in large numbers.

Foodpanda was once a pioneering force in the Indian market with a remarkable vision, but it eventually lost its focus, marking the decline of the food tech giant. This is the era of creativity and technological advancements; there is much to be gained through learning.

Blockbuster—Netflix's First Kill

Blockbuster is a video rental chain that once dominated the market for its thousands of physical locations around the world. In 1988, Blockbuster became the most popular video store chain in the US, having 800 stores. In 1992, it expanded overseas and acquired the British video rental chain Ritz, which opened 2,800 stores. In early 2000, Blockbuster had more than 9,000 stores worldwide and more than 45 million registered users. Having a rich film collection and an unparalleled snack space, it became the most convenient store for all in-house entertainment and snacking.

Blockbuster's revenue is largely based on late fees, a model that penalized customers for storing VHS cassettes too long. It also charged consumers a monthly subscription fee of 3 monthly for movie rentals per month. The strategy didn't last long because Blockbuster's main source of revenue was from punishing customers. As the market environment changed, the demand for online streaming increased among consumers in their late 20s.  But Blockbuster ignored customer preferences by not moving to online streaming. Instead, it continued the traditional rental model and charged customers for each rental. This had become less attractive to customers as they looked for convenience and ease in watching videos.

Meanwhile, Netflix recognized the demand for online streaming and offered it as a core element of their business. That's why, by offering a monthly unlimited rental contract model, Netflix has been able to offer greater value and convenience to its customers, making it more attractive than Blockbuster's rental model. Blockbuster was difficult for customers because of poor customer service and high rental fees. The failure of Blockbuster to understand the client's preferences led to its downfall.


In the annals of mobile phone history, Nokia once reigned supreme with its robust device and iconic brand. But as the smartphone revolution took root, Nokia's fate changed sharply, leading to a marked decline in market share and influence.

Nokia's failure to keep up with changing technologies and trends played a key role in its decline. The company had a reputation for hardware, but did not prioritize the software lineup, which turned out to be an important oversight. Initially, Nokia was cautious about accepting technaological advances to reduce the risks associated with introducing innovative features to its phones. But this approach has hampered the company's ability to adapt to a rapidly evolving market. The business needed diversification, but it was too late for Nokia to make this happen. Rather than being among the early initiators, Nokia migrated when almost all the major brands had already started producing great phones.


Like many FinTech companies, the Indian e-commerce platform ShopX was once a high flyer. The company, backed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and Fung Investment, ShopX, raised a total funding of $90.9M over nine rounds.

However, the e-commerce enablers in India have been unable to raise equity funds since 2020. This coincides with the chilling impact of the pandemic on financing by unprofitable companies that rely on growth promises to entice equity investors.


According to the Indian authorities, it has now shut down and filed for bankruptcy. And it offers a cautionary tale for other B2B marketplaces. A look at regulatory filings reveals a series of failures that trace back to the original business model with low margins, failed pitfalls to consumers, and even more.


PepperTap is an online grocery delivery service business that started in 2014. Founded by Navneet Singh and Milind Sharma, the company provided a user-friendly mobile application that allows the target audience to conveniently browse and order products. PepperTap was one of the first online grocery delivery services to launch in India. However, the company lacked the technology to support rapid growth.

Its poor technical backbone meant that customers sometimes did not see all the items listed by the seller. To fix this, the mom & pop store, working with PepperTap, had to adapt to the new technology. It's not as easy as it says. Large supermarkets had to connect the data generated by the system to the PepperTap platform at least three times a day, and more troublesome tasks were required.


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