By now it’s cliché. There’s a recession out there and businesses are suffering as the market recalibrates itself. But it isn’t like this hasn’t been done before. There is always a way path out and for some, it means reinventing their wheel. Throughout business history, there are numerous examples of changing times requiring businesses to reinvent themselves. Consider the case of American beer giant, Anheuser-Busch, in the business for 130 years.
Eberhardt Anheuser was a soap manufacturer who took over a struggling brewery. We’ll the skip the history of his personal hand in crafting a uniquely American beer and his various innovations. But we’ll go right to the day that prohibition stopped the brewing, sending beer companies out of business. The Anheuser-Busch company was able to keep its employees by evolving from the “King of Beers” to the “King of Grape Soda,” ginger-ale and even carbonated coffee. They also went into baker’s yeast and ice-cream. No word on whether beer-flavored ice cream was in the mix.
In April 1933, when prohibition was lifted, the company was ready to hop back into the beer business. It was then that August Busch used the Clydesdales and wagon, a gift from his kids, to deliver beer to the White House. In the years since, the company has battled other business forces. When micro-brewing became popular, Anheuser-Busch bought some micro-breweries. When wine and cocktail drinking affected its business, the company went there. And following a new trend it allowed acquisition by InBev.
In similar fashion other companies are battling the business downturn through innovation and reinvention. The New York Times has formed a wine club and a Knowledge Network – and they should know. The Better Homes and Garden magazine is offering a home repair service. Business publications are aligning themselves with business schools. Those gold buying outfits are an interesting adaptation to the economic times but it appears, there is still a certain reluctance to endorse this form of innovative business.
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