IntroductionShane Forbes (“Forbes Welcome”, 2017). Above all,
IntroductionShane (2004) defines entrepreneurship as “an activity that involves the discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunities to introduce new goods and services, ways of organizing, markets, processes, and raw materials through organizing efforts that previously had not existed”. Entrepreneurial firms are a human establishment designed to create a new product or service under an outrageous amount of risk (Ries, 2011).
Schumpeter (1965) defined “entrepreneurs as individuals who exploit market opportunity through technical and/or organisational innovation”. This paper elucidates on the journey of an entrepreneur Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, and this will be reflected from his book “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike”. The purpose of the essay is to provide compelling evidence and follow a theoretical framework and concepts compared to real life experiences of Phil Knight during his journey of starting up Nike. Furthermore, there will be a critical reflection of his journey of turning Nike into a multi-million-dollar company. About Phil KnightPhil Knight, born on February 24th, 1938, is an American philanthropist and business magnate.
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Initially, from Oregon, he established Nike Inc. (founded 1971) which was formerly known as Blue Ribbon Sports in Oregon. (1964-1978). Furthermore, he went ahead to end up noticeably the fifteenth wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated total asset of about $27.5 billion according to Forbes (“Forbes Welcome”, 2017). Above all, Phil is known for his commitments to education and different charitable foundations Phil was a track runner at the University of Oregon where he studied journalism and was known as “buck” in 1959.
He later served a year in the army and then studied MBA at Stanford. After graduating, Phil studies CPA and gets a job at an accounting firm in Oregon. He finally retired from his accounting jobs in 1971 and dedicated all his time to Nike.Psychological traits of Phil Knight based on the Big 5 personality traitsThe big 5 personality traits explain the necessary characteristics that serve as a building block for personalities. The big 5 personality traits are compared with the entrepreneur’s traits. The big 5 personality traits are graded with low and high scores and are based on the 5 factors namely – Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeablenessand Conscientiousness. 1.
Neuroticism- indicates the individual disparities between adjustment and emotional stability. Neuroticism suggests that people who are high on neuroticism will tend to experience various negative emotions including anxiety, hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsiveness, and vulnerability to note some. People who score low can be stated to be self-confident, calm, even-tempered, and relaxed (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Entrepreneurs usually tend to get a lower score compared to managers.
From the “Shoe Dog,” we can see that Phil Knight tends to stress in the times of uncertainty when Phil gets to know that Onitsuka is going to break the deal with Blue Ribbon or any other business deal. He often feels nervous and has habits like snapping rubber bands on his writ and hugging himself. Thus, it shows that Phil’s has a high score in neuroticism.2. Extraversion – is characterised by which extent are individual’s assertive, dominant, energetic, active, talkative, and enthusiastic (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Individual’s with a high score enjoy being the centre of attraction, socialising and tend to be cheerful. People with low scores are associated to be quiet and reserved.
They prefer to be independent and spent time in solitude. Entrepreneurs are related to having a high score on extraversion. Phil Knight portrays that he is shy, quiet and an introvert. He does not have continuous communications with employees. Thus, it shows that Phil has a low score on extraversion.
3. Openness to Experience – is a personality measurement that portrays somebody who is intellectually inquisitive and tends to look for new experiences and explore novel ideas. Entrepreneurs experience a higher score in this section as literature claims entrepreneurs to be creative, innovative, untraditional, reflective and imaginative (Seibert and Zhao, 2006). On the other hand, people with low scores tend to be conventional, unanalytical and narrow in interest. Phil Knight has a high score applying the theory explained. Phil Knight was curious to know about the world which made him travel around various courtiers like Hong Kong, Vietnam, and India to name some. During his travels, he even visited Japan where he pitched his “crazy idea” to Onitsuka. He was curious to know about the Japanese working culture and did a brief study before his meeting.
4. Agreeableness- notes on the interpersonal inclination. The traits of a person having a high score will be attributes like altruism, affection, trusting and gullible and other prosocial behaviours. Entrepreneurs tend to have a low score on this sector and tend to have characteristics like suspicious, manipulative and self-centred. Phil has a low score of Agreeableness. He lied to Onitsuka when they asked him which company was he from before beginning Blue Ribbon Sports. Phil manipulated terms with Onitsuka when they had to extend the partnership contract, and the clause was for Blue Ribbon Sports to have an office on the west side of America. Phil didn’t have the office before he signed the papers.
5. Conscientiousness- shows a person’s level of organisation, hard work, diligent work, and inspiration in the quest for the goal achievement. It was further proposed by (McClelland, 1961) that people with high achievement and motivation tend to be entrepreneurs but their scores always tend to be low. The traits of Phil indicated in the book are noted to be inconsistent as well. After he started Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964, he sooner makes it his side business and gets himself a full-time job as an accountant which made him procrastinate his essential task. He always disliked structures and schedules. His employees didn’t like his working culture. It is depicted in the book that he didn’t have a sense of direction in his life.
For the purpose to understand how Phil Knight founded a new venture, i.e. Nike Inc., a theoretical framework interpreting a new venture’s start-up process will be depicted in this paper, and the article will look deep into his journey as an entrepreneur on the basics of the theoretical framework. 1.
Idea formulationEntrepreneurs discover opportunities from the prior knowledge and information they have acquired such as work experiences or education (Audretsch et al., 2004). Austrian economist believes that equilibrium approaches neglect to offer a satisfying hypothetical system for understanding business sector forms. They consider that a reasonable hypothesis of a market framework can’t accept balance, however, should clarify how a market would accomplish that adjust from nonequilibrium introductory conditions (Kirzner 1997).The Austrians conclude that the market is engaged with people who have acquired different information (Hayek 1945). The Austrian theory supports the steps taken by Phil Knight to form the idea that he wished to work on. Phil Knight discovered his love for running at an early age.
Phil Knight was a middle-distance runner at the University of Oregon under one of the best track coaches of American, Bill Bowerman with whom he co-founded Blue ribbon and Nike. Phil Knight was always passionate about running and was one of the best runners on his team. He won various varsity letter for his track performance. He was known for his enthusiasm and art of natural running. He went ahead to Stanford to do his MBA in 1962 where he wrote a research paper “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?”. Japanese cameras were making an imprint in the German-dominant camera market.
Phil Knight thought that the Japanese shoes could do the same with the shoe market dominated by Adidas and Puma. Phil Knight called this his “crazy idea” and always thought that he could travel to Japan and pitch his idea to a Japanese shoemaking company. Phil Knight wanted to solve this problem of running shoes and knew what the customers wanted. His “crazy idea” was made fun of when he pitched his idea in front of a jury and his classmates. Phil Knight knew that he was an entrepreneur since he heard the definition of an entrepreneur at Frank Shallenberger’s Small Business class at Stanford.
Shallenberger defined what kind of a person is an entrepreneur and Phil could relate to the traits of an entrepreneur with himself.An argument can be made on the assumptions of the Neoclassical Equilibrium Theories which states that nobody can find a misalignment that would produce an entrepreneurial benefit because, at any point in time, all opportunities have been perceived and all exchanges perfectly integrated. Because an equilibrium, a system does not enable individuals to recognise opportunities that others don’t see; equilibrium theories clarify entrepreneurship by distinguishing people who opt to become entrepreneurs (Shane, 2000).
Neoclassical economics’ assumption of universal information about opportunities means that all opportunities are ”obvious” to everybody (Shane, 2000). The Phil Knights research paper was based on that fact that the Japanese market can overtake the German shoe market as the cost of labour in Japan, and he saw this as an opportunity to start a business of buying running shoes from Japan and selling them in America. The time he pitched his idea in front of the class, people found him to be a lunatic and thought this idea would never work.
Phil Knight believed in the idea because of his passion and prior knowledge about running. 2. Opportunity recognition The discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities is a capacity to identify business opportunities as opposed to an optimising procedure; hence the entrepreneur needs to see new means-ends connections to join existing concepts and data into new ideas (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000). Professor Israel Kirzner’s theory of entrepreneurship utilises the strategies for Austrian Economics to clarify the capacity of the man who sees and seeks after commercial opportunities even with the risk involved. The entrepreneur is alert to opportunities, and he buys from where the price is less and sells where the price is high viewing the entrepreneur as an arbitrageur. This process drives the market towards equilibrium (Kirzner, 1999). According to Schumpeter’s theory, an entrepreneur is a specialist that produces new items, markets, procedures, or administration structures that at first make disequilibrium in the economy, which at that point returns to equilibrium after some time as market costs alter, generally at a more elevated amount of productivity (Phelan, 2015).Phil Knight has been a Kirznerian entrepreneur (arbitrageur) when he co-founded Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 to becoming a Schumpeterian entrepreneur when he co-founded Nike with Bill Bowerman in 1971.
Phil Knight had a “crazy idea” which he wrote a research paper on the Japanese shoe market in Stanford. In that time, companies in America sold running shoes at 5 $ but the problem with the shoes was bad quality, and runners ended up bleeding after a 5-mile run. Then came Adidas which sold better quality shoes at 30 $ which was quite expensive for runners to buy at that time. Phil Knight knew about the market situation in Japan, and he knew that the cost of labour was low in Japan. So, Phil decided to go to Japan and pitch his crazy idea to a Japanese shoe making company called Onitsuka (now Asics) which had a shoe line called Tiger which Phil and later sold exclusively in America.The sales of Blue Ribbon Sports were doubling every year when the company had disputes with the shoes manufacturing company, Onitsuka.
Phil Knew a shoes manufacturing company in Guadalajara, Mexico where Adidas produced their shoes. Phil gave an order for 3000 pairs of leather running shoes but the manufacturers asked him for a logo to be printed on the shoe, and 1971 was the year where the worldwide know swoosh logo of Nike was made. The name, Nike was derived from the Greek goddess of victory and was founded in 1971.The argument stands at that an entrepreneur shall be flexible and cannot stand stuck with only one theory.
We can see a radical change in what kind of an entrepreneur was Phil considering the Kirzner’s and Schumpeter’s theory. An entrepreneur shall follow constant innovation, be resilient and welcome new opportunities. The type of entrepreneur depends upon the nature of the opportunity. Phil was an arbitrageur when he started Blue Ribbon Sports and tuned into a Schumpeterian when he founded Nike during his journey as they innovated the waffle shoes which was a revolution in the sports footwear industry. 3.
Pre-start planning and preparation, Establishment and launch and Post-entry development”People come up with ideas but, as entrepreneurs, they pursue opportunities” (Dimov, 2017). Phil started Blue Ribbon Sports with an investment of 50$ for the sample shoes which was taken by his father. Phil began his business in the 1960s when the venture capital industry did not exist and gazelle companies where a norm. Phil returned to Oregon and waited for the shoes to arrive, and as they came, he shows Bill Bowerman the samples and soon made him a partner of the company. Phil sold the shoes from his truck at various sports meets. The sales of Blue Ribbon doubled every year. The first Blue Ribbon store was opened in Santa Monica. The pre-start section shifts ahead to 1971 when he founded Nike when his partnership deal went wrong with Onitsuka.
Phil knew a shoe factory in Mexico and, he flew there and ordered for 3000 leather football shoes. He also planned to introduce boxes in which the shoes would be delivered. He further raised capital from a Japanese investor called Nissho to keep Nike running at full flow.
Nike signed sponsorship deals with the greatest athletes in the fraternity. Nike fell into a lawsuit with Onitsuka and had another problem with the US customs and paid a fine of 25$ Million. Nike is the market leader in athletic footwear and apparel (Nike, 2017).
? Contextualized entrepreneurial journey of Phil KnightThe context of entrepreneurship has two main dimensions to look at is “where” and “when” which have classified aspects like Business which states phase of life-cycles of ventures and markets, number and nature of contender. Social covering the structure of networks, density, recurrence of network relations; synthesis and parts of the family. Spatial stating the attributes of a physical business area; business bolster foundation; qualities of nearby groups and regions. Furthermore, Institutional covers societal attitudes and norms; legal and administrative controls; policy and bolster measures (Welter, 2010). This paper focuses on the “where” aspects stated above.Blue Ribbon and Nike were in the early stage business life-cycle of the footwear industry in America when people did not consider running as a sport. Adidas was the only competitor they had in America in the 1960s.
They helped grow the industry by new innovative products and educating the consumers by the book written on running by Bill Bowerman. The social context had a great significance in Phil’s journey. He started his business by bootstrapping in his network of family and friends. Phil encircled himself with exceptional individuals and enrolled trusted friends and partners.
Most of his employees were his friends who he had at university or running events. Phil’s dad turned out to be a hindrance in his journey has he wanted him always to have a stable job. Phil was on the journey of community entrepreneurship as he gathered friends who were runners and ran the company with them. Phil imported shoes made in Mexico and had a conflict with the US customs and had to pay of fine of 25$ million.? Critical reflection on Phil’s journeyThere is a state of disequilibrium between the entrepreneurial theories compared to Phil’s journey.
Phil Knight started his career selling imported Japanese shoes, not by manufacturing his own. In fact, it was only frictions with Onitsuka that forced him to found Nike. If Onitsuka kept their partnership amiable, Phil might have been working with Onitsuka for a considerable length of time, and Nike may never have happened. In my opinion, the key to success in his journey was him taking an impulsive decision of flying to Mexico and ordering for the shoes. Phil was resilient and flexible to start a new business. Nike ran into constant problems as it grew – lawsuits with Onitsuka, persistent issues with manufacturing and funds and a fine of $25 million from US Customs. Phil never had a business plan and didn’t think of the forthcoming even though the diligence of the group and the undercurrent of high demand for Nikes held on and drove the organisation past its problems.SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIPThe second section of the paper has a critical reflection on the social entrepreneurship project that was undertaken by Team Pink at the University of Bath (2017) for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity (Bristol) who provide emotional and rational support to the families of the children.
In my opinion, an individual entrepreneur excepts a high set of return for the work they are performing, and the project didn’t have a high set of return. There were several inaccuracies on the day of work for some to be stated like selecting the wrong day for doing the event. The selection of products to be sold didn’t match the consumer’s needs. The idea for the event overlapped with another group, and they executed it before our team which was a significant disadvantage. On the flip side, our team had an exceptional level of coordination.
Our unique selling point and our key point of success was our marketing and sales style. Also, our packing was beautiful. On an individual basis, my idea of the raffle was not considered by the team as it had a high level of risk.
The event advanced the qualities of being a team player on an individual basis. There could have been a better use of digital marketing.