Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Although we must acknowledge that hindsight is 20/20, it can sometimes still be difficult to imagine what someone was thinking before they committed a significant blunder.


This goes for politics, sports, organizational management, and, of course, the business world.

Plenty of Redditors were eager to respond to a recent thread that asked folks to share the biggest business head-scratchers they've encountered.

These are sad stories that involve the financial struggles of both business owners and employees. And yet, we hope they're at least a tad instructive.

Redditor Devvint_ asked:

"What is the Worst Business Decision You've Ever Seen?"

Many talked about the pitfalls of new ownership. There is something about new owners that leads to sweeping changes without an acknowledgement of what's been working for years.

Don't Fix What Isn't Broken

"In my hometown there was an independent fast food and homemade ice cream place, long established and run by close friends. It was a goldmine. They decided to sell and retire."

"New owners immediately changed everything. Painted it a wild color, removed some attractions on the grounds, changed the 60 year old menu and switched to commercially made ice cream. They lasted 8 months."

-- Strokedoutbear

She Had the Chance

"My late great uncle started a fish and chips restaurant. He had his own unique recipe for the fish and it was very popular. Businessmen had offered him thousands in cash for it over the years, but he always declined. After about 40 or so years, he decided to retire and hand the business over to an ambitious recent college grad."

"He offered to give her the recipe and even volunteer his services for a bit while she got comfortable in her new role as owner. "

She declined both and within a year, she was forced to sell the restaurant after coming close to declaring bankruptcy. My great uncle died and took the recipe with him to his grave"

-- TheBoomExpress

Out of Touch

"There was a Tex-Mex place I loved in Fairbanks, Alaska. The food wasn't GREAT, but it was consistent, and the prices were fair."

"Well, a new owner came in, and they decided to revamp it into a fine dining steak house. $30 was pretty much the lowest cost you could get for an item, and this was in a neighborhood that had a substantial crime rate and was right across the street from the bikini barista and the marijuana dispensary."

"I stopped going, and they went under shortly thereafter. I walked in once before the place closed down, and it was dreary and empty and they had tried to bring some of the classics back to the menu, but it was far too late by then."

"You were too good for this world, Los Amigos."

-- Thewrongbakedpotato

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Worthless and Ugly

"A developer my dad worked with sold off a beautiful piece of land next to a river in a very desirable area, he sold it to another developer. The new developer cut down every tree on the 6 acre site, as he said, 'he wanted to see what he had.' "

"The land then started to slide into the river, rendering it worthless and ugly."

-- pete1729

Other people talked about major overhauls that a company made in the hopes of driving more revenue. Of course, these schemes backfired completely.

When Dollars and Cents Is All They Care About

"Take a help desk that has been consistently rated extremely well by its customers for their first-call-resolve, attitude, and helpfulness; outsource it to a company that's been rated towards the bottom of the list for over a decade because it costs less than the salaries/benefits of your former in house help desk."

"Then complain when your first-call-resolve drops through the floor and your customer satisfaction is at an all time low."

-- amalgamas

Full Speed Ahead

"Property management company I used to work for had a number of student properties and high-rises that were always a struggle to fill in the summer months when students went out of town."

"Head office came up with an offer that anyone who signed for two years got the four summer months at 50% off. Sounds like a good deal, 50% rent is much better than zero. We signed tons of students."

"However the lease templates that head office sent over showed the reduced rent rate on the lease rather than just adding the discount as a separate addendum. I noticed this discrepancy and reported it - and was subsequently ignored."

"Which meant the students were signing a legal document that guaranteed them 50% rent for two years."

"The company lost hundreds of thousands in revenue."

-- kor_hookmaster

Talking the Talk

"A radio station i used to listen to recently changed their format from 80% music, 20% talk show to 100% talk show. Then they were like 'oh you can still listen to the music but it's only going to be on our app.' "

-- El_Voador

The Exact Wrong Move

"Circuit City was pretty stupid. When the recession hit, they decided to stop selling appliances and instead focus on DVDs and televisions and such. (Appliances are known as being a recession proof item. People always need refrigerators and microwaves. They don't need DVDs.)"

"They also wanted to cut down on labor costs, so they fired a lot of managers and assistant managers, and just left a lot of entry level employees because they were cheaper to pay. Well, entry level employees don't really know how to fully run a store, so pretty much every Circuit City became dog sh**."

-- Stevie-Avail

Driving Them Away

"There was a shopping plaza near me with a fairly large gift store. Not a gift shop in the museum sense, basically like a Hallmark store but independent. It wasn't exactly bustling, but they apparently did solid business and a lot of people in the community really appreciated having it there as a place to buy gifts and wrapping paper and such."

"The owners of the shopping plaza raise rents to the point that the shop goes out of business. The reason this was stupid is that the store front sat vacant for like 15 entire years. Seriously, this place closed when I was a child and I'm now 27 and the vacancy was only taken over very recently."

"If their goal in raising the rent was to have a more profitable store move in to that space, they certainly failed and missed out on decades of rent as a result."

-- Sarahlpatt

Pandora's Box

"In the early days of the personal computer, a fairly prominent developer Osborne went under because they showed off their new model far in advance of when it was actually going to be available."

"So predictably dealers immediately cancelled all orders for their current computer model in preparation for the new improved version. Inventory stacked up and they were bankrupt before the new model ever came out....."

"Its known as the Osborne Effect."

-- RedDragons8

Pricey Stinkers

"Cincinnati's deal with The Bengals."

"It has cost over $1B since 2000. It has some of the most ridiculous requires for the city and is widely considered the worst business deal in the history of sports deals."

"The city hasn't remade anywhere close to $1B by having the team. Arguably, they've gained nothing."

"This is all while the Bengals are perennial stinkers. They've made being terrible a lucrative business model."

-- Zezu

And some discussed those "flash in the pan" style business decisions that seemed like a good idea to drum up a short term rush.

Unfortunately, these small tweaks had pretty huge consequences.

Hopping on the Bandwagon

"I worked for a video store during the time Finding Nemo came out on DVD. The video store I worked for got a huge fish tank put inside. It was so big they had to shrink the game rental section. The tank had clown fish in it."

"The tank was also locked and we couldn't feed the fish or clean it. This was supposed to be done by someone who I never saw come in."

"So the tank ended up filled with a bunch of dead Nemos in a nasty as fu** tank. Needless to say parents were very unhappy about it. The local paper did a small article about it too which didn't help an already dying store. I have no idea what they thought an expensive as Hell fish tank would do for their business."

-- OhTheHueManatee

Substituted

"A friend of my husband's owns a sports bar. A few months ago he offered $1 beers. The place QUICKLY became overloaded with homeless people and the regulars didn't like it and stopped going.

"Special didn't last long."

-- DiaHosein

Heart Was Never In It

"Target's expansion into Canada"

"collapsed in 2 years and cost them Billions" -- USSMarauder

"It was so bad."

"We were expecting competitive prices and good products. We got Walmart quality products at higher prices and you'd go into the stores and they would have empty shelves and one product you liked would be there one week but not the next. It would end up at another target the next town over."

"They really treated Canadians like they were doing us the favour letting us shop there." -- warmaster_whorus

Wrong Part of Town

"Panera Cares opening less than a mile from my college campus."

"For those who don't know, Panera Cares basically just let you order food and would list a 'suggested donation' based on what you ordered, but ultimately it was honor system. The cashiers would just make change for you so you could put cash in the donation box."

"If you can't afford a meal it's fine to not pay but you are supposed to volunteer to work for two hours to cover it, but this isn't actually required."

"I think generally these things are supposed to be for really affluent neighborhoods where people probably donate even more than is 'suggested.' "

"But students from the college basically turned it into a real life Tragedy of the Commons experiment. There was almost never bread available because everyone would just take it. The lines were insane and people would donate like $1 if anything. It closed within a year lol."

-- WallOfTextGuy

So if there is one thing to take away from this list, it's this: if you find yourself managing a small business or even a larger scale set of employees, listen to what worked before and think through your changes for a good while.

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