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10 Quotes for Small Business from Nike Founder Phil Knight

Phil Knight Small Business QuotesPhil Knight discovered he was an entrepreneur while sitting in a small business class at Stanford School of Business. “That class was an ‘aha! moment,” he said. “[the professor] defined the type of person who was an entrepreneur—and I realized he was talking to me. I remember saying to myself: This is really what I would like to do.”

With $600 (matched by another $600 from his partner Bill Bowerman), Phil Knight founded the company that would become the sports powerhouse Nike. For those born after 1980, it simply isnt possible to remember a time when Nike wasnt synonymous with sports. But in its early years, Nike had difficulty making payroll and selling enough shoes to pay for the next shipment of inventory. Sounds like a lot of other small businesses weve heard of.

Despite its humble beginnings (Knights first sales were made at track meets, from the back of his Plymouth station wagon) and thanks to great product, well-timed celebrity endorsements, and a lot of luck, Nike is now one of the most successful companies of the past 30 years. Here are a few things Phil Knight has said about his rise from small business owner to CEO of the worlds premier sporting goods company:

“At first, we couldnt be establishment, because we didnt have any money. We were guerrilla marketers, and we still are, a little bit. But, as we became No. 1 in our industry, weve had to modify our culture and become a bit more planned.”

“A brand is something that has a clear-cut identity among consumers, which a company creates by sending out a clear, consistent message over a period of years until it achieves a critical mass of marketing.”

“Ultimately, we wanted Nike to be the worlds best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You dont end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.”

“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.”

“If you want to spend time saying this is cool, you’re going to get your ass kicked.”

“I do not follow conventional wisdom.”

“It doesn’t matter how many people you offend, as long as you’re getting your message to your consumers. I say to those people who do not want to offend anybody: You are going to have a very, very difficult time having meaningful advertising.”

“We understand the most important thing we do is market the product…”

“Nike is a marketing-oriented company, and the product is our most important marketing tool.”

“We used to think that everything started in the lab. Now we realize that everything spins off the consumer.”

—Phil Knight, Founder of Nike

Amber Ooley
Amber Ooley
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