There are ten things that everyone can learn about success from Nike’s millionaire founder.
How can you build one of the world’s largest and most known sports enterprises if you want to become a billionaire?
Phil Knight disclosed the answer in his best-selling biography “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike.” He offers a plethora of information on accomplishing in his book.
1. Take advantage of the chance to study and travel when you’re in your twenties.
After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and spending a year in the Navy, Phil Knight, then 24, decided to go on a round-the-world trip. He had to borrow money from his parents to pay for his travel to Hawaii in the early 1960s.
Knight traveled to various countries across the world, including Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Kenya, Egypt, and Turkey, as well as areas he had previously visited. During this period, he also traveled to Germany, France, and loans in Minnesota. His travels provided him with a wealth of cultural and historical information that he carried with him for the rest of his life.
2. Believe in yourself and your job.
Knight’s first job in Hawaii was selling encyclopedias. His second objective was to obtain funds for a new business endeavor. He was terrible in his first job and just good in his second. It occurred to him that, being an introvert, he would not be the greatest candidate for the position as a salesman. When he first started selling shoes, though, he was a veritable sales whiz.
Why? He had trust in what he was doing for the first time in his life. Knight participated in track and field while at the University of Oregon. He ran because he was good at it, he liked it, and he was driven to achieve. It helped him gain credibility later in his career as a shoe salesman. This was something he was enthusiastic about in both the items and the sport.
3. Simply Do It
While traveling the world, Knight had a “wild idea” to establish up American distribution for a Japanese apparel company. Despite having no money, no firm, and no sales expertise, Knight was called to a meeting in Kobe by Onitsuka, the Japanese manufacturer best known for their Tiger shoes.
He said yes (even if he didn’t) when asked whether he worked for a company. The similar tactic was utilized not long after to deceive his partner into thinking he had an East Coast office when he didn’t.
He was, however, able to keep every promise he made: he started a company (Blue Ribbon, which later became Nike), he established an East Coast headquarters (in Wellesley, Massachusetts), and he acquired funding for his order. He had just finished the job at hand.
4. Look for individuals that you can trust, who are honest, and who are trustworthy in both your business and personal lives.
Many of Knight’s early employees were alumni of his institution or rival teams, as well as his former coach and a small core of dependable accountants and lawyers. He believed in them.
When his company needed money, the parents of one of his first employees graciously gave him their last savings. “Who can you trust if you can’t trust the company your child works for?” was the thinking behind it.
When he met her at the age of 30, she made a big impact on him. He spoke to her as a work partner, not a girlfriend. She was hired as the company’s first accountant. She would be the family’s basis in the future. Those early employees played a critical role in his achievement.
5. Be careful, but when you make a decision, stay with it to the finish.
Blue Ribbon has been a part-time employment for Knight from its start, and he has also worked as an accountant and an assistant professor during the day. He quit his day job after just a few years to concentrate fully on his company.
He needed a stable income to satisfy his responsibilities, partially because he wasn’t sure whether his budding business would succeed. There was no going back once he chose to go all-in with Blue Ribbon. By using his house as collateral for a business loan, he was virtually risking the farm.
6. Be specific about your objectives and state them clearly.
The Knight, a brilliant negotiator, has developed a variety of business abilities throughout the course of his career. He believes that knowing what you want and saying it out loud is critical before entering into a negotiation.
For example, he warned one prospective investor up front that the business would not be able to hold any Blue Ribbon stock and would only be able to make a loan. To one of his initial suppliers, he emphasized the need of on-time delivery. Because he was quite forward about his aims, he was able to avoid any misunderstandings.
7. Always have a backup plan in case of an emergency.
When Knight realized that Onitsuka, his sole shoe supplier, was cutting him off and dealing with other US distributors behind his back, he learnt the most important lesson. It didn’t take him long to come up with a backup plan: he’d start creating his own shoes.
When his supplier cut him off a year later, Nike was already on the market. At the very least, he possessed a pair of shoes, although with a few defects. There were no setbacks in getting the company up and running and selling Blue Ribbon goods. Without Knight’s vision, the Onitsuka transaction would have likely killed his company a year earlier.
8. Maintain control over your own business.
Knight was deliberately preserving control of his own business in his hands when he refused to sell his company to a Japanese supplier and refused to award shares to some (but not all) of his early employees. However, as the firm’s founder, he was required to keep a major portion of the corporation.
Knight, who has been in company for more than a decade, has just lately been amenable to the idea of going public and selling large amounts of stock. It was done on his terms, however, since public stockholders could only access “B” shares, which paid dividends but did not provide new shareholders the same voting rights as earlier owners. He regained control of the company as the majority “A” shareholder once again.
9. Encourage your employees to stay hopeful and stick with you.
When Blue Ribbon/Nike was left to its own ways, the tone was bleak at first. Despite their success as a result of their Onitsuka shoe brand, they had lately been cut off by the same firm.
To lift his colleagues’ spirits, Knight gave them a narrative about hope, optimism, and self-confidence. He explained that the Onitsuka shoe had nothing to do with their achievement. Your efforts were rewarded. Blue Ribbon could finally go it alone after the split, with speedier delivery and a product tailored particularly for the American market. The Blue Ribbon team reacted positively to the story.
10. Never lose hope, but know when to call it a day.
Knight had to go through a roller coaster of ups and downs while fighting for his life over the first 15 years of Nike. He sued Onitsuka, a former supplier, for exorbitant import charges, and he also sued the United States government for credit lines.
He always gave it his all, as if his company’s survival relied on it (as very often, it was). When the going got difficult and a deal needed to be made, he knew when to give up. He struck an out-of-court settlement with Onitsuka and gave them half of what they claimed they were owed. He also agreed to make a monetary contribution to the US government. However, in order to go on, he had to let go of some of his pride. He knew when it was time to come to a halt.
Phil Knight is no longer the new kid on the block with no experience, adventure, or daring, 50 years after his first trip to Japan. He has been designated chairman emeritus of Nike, the world’s largest sportswear company by market value. A gold medal-winning race may seem simple to an Olympic athlete, but it took him years to get there. A writer is in the same boat. In “Shoe Dog,” there were many lessons to be learnt, and they were all set out in the book. Your entire attention for the next year should be on this business story.