Phil Knight is the founder of Nike, the 32 billion-dollar shoe company. He wrote this book recently called Shoe Dog, so in this blogpost I want to give it a review and also go through 3 pieces of advice that he gives in the book that should help you with your business.
Let’s start with Phil Knight’s rule #1
1. Work with the best
When Phil was launching Nike, he had two issues: he didn’t really know how to design shoes and he didn’t really have anyone that would supply him with shoes. Those were two big problems, because if you don’t have a product, how are you going to sell it?
So he recruited as his co-founder his high school coach, who was obsessed with testing different shoe concepts on him and the team in school.
As an adult, Phil found this guy, and ended up giving him 50% stake in Nike to come on as the designer. This was before he had any kind of revenue, so he worked with the best there.
The other thing was solving the production problem.
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He was reading a lot about how Japan was the manufacturing powerhouse at the time, and this was in the 60’s, where the country was still recovering from the Second World War.
He flew to Japan, and in Tokyo, where there was still buildings in ruins due to the war; he found these manufacturers and was able to talk his way into getting the rights to sell these Japanese shoes in America. This brings us to the second point:
2. Ignore contracts, focus on results
What Phil didn’t know was that, although the Japanese manufacturer he was working with said they would give him an exclusive contract; that exclusivity was only for the west coast of the US. The Japanese actually gave the nation-wide contract to another former sports star, which had a lot more cloud.
Phil could’ve let this take him down right? Well he kept going anyway, to the point where he ended up going back to Japan to talk with the distributor and getting them to agree that if he sold a certain amount of shoes, they would give him the real exclusive right.
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But it doesn’t stop there; he went all the way to the point where he ditched that manufacturer plant in Japan to bring on a whole different one. He didn’t let what was written on a piece of paper get in his way.
There’s another piece of advice that might be common to everyone in e-commerce, but in services is a little different:
3. Pay your employees before you pay yourself
Phil was building revenue in the first few years of business, he completely decimated the west coast sales and he was moving over the east coast, opening an office over there.
And yet, for the longest time, Phil wasn’t even taking a salary.
In his book he writes that it was 4 to 6 years before he even started pulling any money out for himself, and while he was doing this he was actually working as an accountant at a firm!
In all, Shoe Dog is an amazing book on entrepreneurship. I would even say that is a book that every aspiring entrepreneur should read, so check it out.
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