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Six Companies That Should Take The Plunge In 2012

Six game changers that could supercharge struggling companies such as Honda and Quiznos, recommended by fellow industry players.

Six Companies That Should Take The Plunge In 2012


THE PROBLEM Sales have slumped at brick-and-mortar stores, and the brand as a whole is losing cachet.
TAKE THIS RISK Found an MFA degree program and offer grants to established writers. "If Barnes & Noble is going to invest in how people read, they should also invest in what people read," says Stephanie Anderson, manager of Brooklyn's Word bookstore. "I could see them as a modern-day House of Medici."


THE PROBLEM Sales are languishing and new models received tepid critical response—and that was before the Japan earthquake affected production.
TAKE THIS RISK Develop a truly audacious vehicle—say, a "space wagon" that's "better-looking than the original Chrysler minivans with the fuel-economy of a subcompact," says Paul Seredynski, senior editor at Edmunds Auto Observer. That way, he adds, "Honda can get back to being cool and stop trying to be Toyota."


THE PROBLEM It's a distant No. 2 to McDonald's.
TAKE THIS RISK Ditch the cheap-and-fast model and add some luxe, says David Chang, owner of Momofuku restaurants. "Take all the millions out of the marketing budget to improve the infrastructure. If they pay the employees better, contract the menu, focus on quality meats and ingredients, source local farms, and cook it right, word of mouth will bring customers in."


THE PROBLEM If the lockout leads to a disjointed season, many NBA fans are likely to lose interest.
TAKE THIS RISK Shorten the season—permanently. "Players start to show strain around the All-Star Break, with injuries and apathy setting in," says Bethlehem Shoals, NBA writer for Bleacher Report. With fewer games, the focus could shift to "power matchups designed to give fans a real preview of the playoffs."


THE PROBLEM Falling revenue, shuttered stores, and a debt that reportedly tops $850 million.
TAKE THIS RISK Ditch the costly brick-and-mortar shops and "go Mr. Softee-style—turn all the restaurants into food trucks," says Daniel Delaney, host of the web series What's This Food?! "Take orders from the web and have one guy toasting while the other's truckin'. Hot delivery. Curbside."


THE PROBLEM The firm behind Guitar Hero hasn't done much since, and consumers are losing interest in disc-based video games.
TAKE THIS RISK Spend whatever it takes to create the world's first immersive shoot-'em-up, where gamers move their bodies to take cover. "It's bound to happen," says Marc Nesbitt, a former video-game producer, "and Harmonix has a head start with Kinect technology."

A version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.