The world of business is full of stories of triumph and disaster, and everyday decisions can determine whether a start-up hits the big time or a corporate behemoth completely collapses. While some of the biggest companies out there might seem all-conquering now, they, too, had times in their history where it all could have gone so differently.

Here are the stories of how 8 huge companies found themselves on the brink, yet made it back. (From Headway Capital)

Part 4. Check back tomorrow for two more companies.


When a woodworking and carpentry shop opened in Denmark in 1895, nobody could have predicted it would lead to a world-conquering plastic toy with theme parks and movie franchises to its name. But the company that became LEGO almost collapsed a few times before it made its first brick. The Great Depression hit the business so hard that Ole Kirk Christiansen began producing wooden toys to make ends meet. The first iconic plastic brick didn’t come until 17 years later, but it catapulted LEGO to another level, and by 1990, the company was one of the top 10 toy manufacturers in the world. Though the popularity of video games saw LEGO’s market share suffer, a major restructuring process – which led to the sale of LEGOLAND parks – helped turn things around, making LEGO the world’s most valuable toy company.



Henry Ford had already been through two bankruptcies before he founded Ford Motor Company in 1903, so its success wasn’t easy to predict. The 1908 launch of the Model-T car changed the world and put Ford on the map – and for decades it led the way as one of the top car manufacturers in the US, acquiring brands including Lincoln, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin. But by 2009, the company found itself in year after year decline, posting losses of $14.6 billion despite job cuts and the sell-off of many of its acquired entities. A $5.9 billion loan and cost-cutting measures helped get Ford back on track, and just six years later the company was making record profits of $10.8 billion.