Of all the businesses you might want to start, an airline may not be the best idea… how, for instance, does a profit margin of just four dollars per passenger, grab you?
Despite incredible growth, airlines have not come close to returning the cost of capital, with profit margins of less than 1% on average over that period. In 2012 they made profits of only $4 for every passenger carried.
In the same way Google can forecast flu outbreaks some weeks in advance of such an occurrence based on search queries, professional networks such as LinkedIn may be able to garner insights into the operational state of a company before anyone else, particularly in situations where large numbers of its employees simultaneously begin updating their profiles.
Well think about how most people use LinkedIn, you pretty much treat your profile like your CV, when things are stable you tend to leave it, never updating or checking it reguarly to improve it. However when it looks like you need a new job you’ll keep logging in, add new experience, etc. Now if your data sample is a 100 people in one company, then of course you might not get any solid information out of that. However, lets say you take a company with a few thousand workers, if a significant amount of those goes from not logging in within 3-6 months to logging in frequently AND updating their profiles, then you might just have a company that’s about to cut staff.
Japanese temple building company Kongo Gumi was established in 578AD and ceased trading in 2007, after being overwhelmed by debt, and an apparent downturn in the temple building industry.
Aside from the inauspicious final chapter however, what was the key to remaining in business for almost a millennium and a half?
Other than favourable economic and trading conditions, family ownership seems to have played a big hand in their longevity, as it has for a number of other long running enterprises.
Undoubtedly family business represents the most lasting type of business. The expert in family business, Professor Willian O’Hara, in one of his books mentioned about family business the following: “Before the multinational corporation, there was family business. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was family business. Before the enlightenment of Greece and the empire of Rome, there was family business.”