5 Business Lessons from Phil Knight, Nike’s Founder, For Young Entrepreneurs

If you are hunting out the secrets behind the entrepreneurship that turned into the giant organization, you should read the famous book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Nike’s founder.

He was a dreamer and a doer. He created Nike with an unstoppable belief of “Just Do It”. Here are his 5 business lessons from the book for young entrepreneurs.

1. Youth is to Learn and Explore

After graduation, Phil Knight joined Navy, but he desired to go on a world trip and explore his options to spend a life. At that time, travelling was something exotic and expensive, so he took a plane to Hawaii. He visited many cultural and historical places and learned great lessons from the practices there.

As a young entrepreneur, you should not limit your options. Even though you can’t travel, learn from the stories around you. Try to find inspiration in the places you visit in your country. This can work as massive inspiration to the creative aspect of your business. Keep exploring, learning, and growing.

2. Place Ideas before Branding

Knight, according to his memoir, was not an advertising man. He was an accountant in the early years of the brand, yet Nike is ranked top amongst shoe brands.

In the memoir he perceives that it’s not the branding that comes first but the idea of product itself. People did not call Nike Nike in the first ten years of its launch. Phil discussed the concept behind his shoe brand with various coaches, runners, fans, and showed them his shoes. He even ran on tracks to explore the comfort and adaptability of the shoe to multiple tracks.

This sheer hard work to know the product made Nike what it is today.

It would be helpful if startups learn about the product by discussing the audience who might use it. They can make upgrades where necessary, with the help of relevant experts. This helps you to boost your experience as a new entrepreneur.

3. Believe in your Idea

Once you are done with the planning of an idea, believe in what you will offer in the market. It’s the founder trust in his/her product that matters the most. Believe that you can sell it, and it will sell.

Knight’s first job was to sell encyclopedias, his second job to sell securities. He found he was not carved out for both as he was introvert. But when he started selling shoes, he came out to be an excellent salesperson. Believe in what you do and the idea you sell. He did not only co-found a company but also created a product to make or sell.

Believe as a starter that you cannot only make a difference to you by selling your product or service; you can create a difference in the lives of both employees and customers. The idea of sports shoe brand started after Nike.

4. Always Build a Trustworthy Team

You must have trustworthy people in your personal and professional life. A startup requires arduous work. Please make sure you have people willing to do it. Knight work with a team of athletes from college, coaches, trusted accountants, lawyers to fight his battles.

They all worked earnestly to make Nike what it is today. Make sure when you start young as an entrepreneur, you have a support team that helps you grow.

5. Keep Fighting and Never Give Up

One of the many lessons we learn from Shoe Dog is his spirit to fight any challenge when Nike was new to the market. His supplier initially cut off his shoe supply, the legal battle he had with it, the credit line issues, and the US govt’s heavy undue import taxes.

Phil fought in the face of all challenges, and after many ups and downs in 15 years, the Nike came out to be a top-ranked shoe brand in sportswear.

As a young entrepreneur, you must look at the business challenges with a fighting spirit and never give up on your dream.


Young entrepreneurs live in a very competitive environment. Since a new business is just a baby learning to stand up, following Phil’s golden lessons, they can turn their startups into giant organizations. The rule is “Don’t run from the drill, just do it”!

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