Shoe Dog Summary – A Guide to Start a Business

Author: Phil Knight

Short Summary
Shoe Dog (2016) is written by the founder of Nike, who has shared his journey of how he built the largest sportswear brand in the World by taking a small initiative step. The famous shoe brand Nike started out as “Blue Ribbon” with the minimum resources. Moreover, Phil used to sell shoes from the trunk of his car. But through his passion and enthusiasm, he was able to set up an iconic brand that is well-known today all over the World.
shoe dog summary

Detailed Summary

The book motivates the readers that everyone has the power to start their own business if they have the passion for doing it. But every journey has its ups and downs, and the road to success is never smooth.

“Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome.”
― Phil Knight

This is what the author has explained. In the book, the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, has shared his inspiring journey of how he was a regular kid like you and me but built the largest sportswear brand in the World.

The story is quite inspiring as it tells us about a regular kid who loves running, and through his struggles and determination, he started his own shoe brand, which is well-known all around the World.

“Life is growth. You grow or you die.”
― Phil Knight

The author says that in the beginning, he did not have an outlet or a shop, but he was so passionate that he used to put shoes in the back of his car and sell them from there. Moreover, Nike started as a school project and wasn’t even named Nike back then. Phil named it Blue Ribbon in the beginning.

You can also read the summary of the book The Alter Ego Effect Summary.

Shoe Dog Summary Key Points

Want to start a business and have no idea? Learn the following key points of the book to know how Phil took the initial step of starting a show business and how his crazy plan would turn most valuable one. These points will surely help you to think creatively and critically and push you to start a business.

The Partnership is Important to Start a New business

Next up in the Shoe Dog Summary, the author Phil Knight gives a tip to young entrepreneurs that having a partner and a mentor is important when you are starting a business. Someone who supports your plans and gives you good advice as a mentor is important when you are starting a business.

Phil says that he worked as an accountant during the delivery of the first 300 pairs, which took almost a year. When Phil eventually received the shoes, Bill Bowerman was one of the first persons to whom he mailed two pairs. Bill was his former University of Oregon running coach. Phil hoped for a sale and a significant endorsement.

Bill didn’t stop there, to Phil’s amazement. He offered to join him as a partner and handle product design. One of the things that gave Phil confidence was having his mentor as a partner and seeing that he, too, believed in Phil’s proposal.

Phil sold the shoes out of the trunk of his green Plymouth Valiant the first year. In 1963, he made $8,000 by attending track meet-ups across the country.

On the other hand, Bill didn’t only provide words of support. Bill’s skill set would soon become obvious as being critical to the company’s success.

“Like it or not, life is a game.”
― Phil Knight

Sell enthusiasm

Phil’s excitement and enthusiasm shine through in every line of the book. His crazy idea, which began as a dream, could become a reality. In the past, Phil Knight had a bad track record in sales, particularly when he was hired to sell door-to-door encyclopedias. Despite this, he found selling shoes to be surprisingly simple. He believes the difference was his sincere belief that the shoes would improve people’s lives

Moreover, Phil waited months for the first sample shoes to come from Japan in 1963. Onitsuka just stated that it would take “a bit longer.”  Twelve trial pairs of shoes arrived unexpectedly at the beginning of 1964! Phil was ecstatic!

Bill Bowerman, Phil’s old university running coach, received two shoes right away ( Bowerman was well-known in the running world and always focused on improving his athletes’ shoes.

Surprisingly, Bowerman was so taken with the trial shoes that he offered to join Phil’s company. Onitsuka sent them the first real shipment of 300 Tiger shoes in April. Phil drove around to track races selling shoes from the trunk of his car because the local sports stores didn’t take him seriously. All the shoes were sold within three months, and Phil ordered 900 more from Japan.

Stop Dictating people

Another piece of advice that Phil gives us is that don’t dictate to people. Just tell them once and let them do what they want to do because everybody knows their good and bad. Especially when you are working with people, it’s not a good idea to tell people how to do everything. 

Phil has always believed in allowing people to be themselves. And what about Bill? He was the epitome of a shoe dog. He was preoccupied with shoes and how to improve them. Bill would constantly use Phil as a guinea pig while he was running for Bill.

They collaborated to test new shoe materials, adjustments, and enhancements. Bill would dismantle a shoe and reassemble it.

Bill began teaching well-known runners and prospective Olympians at the time, which helped sell more shoes. When Phil suggested that Onitsuka produce Bill’s first modified shoe prototype, the Cortez, they landed their first significant commercial smash.

Blue Ribbon’s and, eventually, Nike’s success would be aided by this hands-off management style. One of the basic components that built Nike, well, Nike, was hiring outstanding people and letting them do their thing.

Who would I recommend Shoe Dog Summary to?

Shoe Dog Summary is highly recommended to all young entrepreneurs and everyone who aspires to start a new business. The book will motivate them to start from scratch and be determined. You don’t have to be a billionaire to start a well-known brand; a regular kid can also start a business.