Companies Can’t be Great Unless They’ve Almost Failed

Harvard Business Review
by Bill Taylor
MARCH 21, 2016

The Wall Street Journal recently published a fascinating column on the best-performing stocks of the last 30 years. One intriguing feature of these enormous success stories is that so many of them are little-known companies in ordinary, sometimes downright boring industries: railroads, health insurance, back-office automation. The runaway winner, with a staggering stock price growth of 107,099% since 1985, was a truly obscure outfit called Balchem Corp., which makes flavorings and nutritional additives for animal feed — not exactly Google or Disney.

But the more important part of the story, the lesson that applies to all kinds of companies in all sorts of fields, is that every one of these star performers faced at least one “near-death experience” during the course of its long-term success.

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