Ask an Expert: Lessons to be leaned from the growth of Nike

5. Create valuable partnerships. Nike has extended its reach and its brand by finding great partners, something any of us can do. In Nike's case, partners have included everyone from the virtual unknown – aerospace engineer Frank Rudy who helped create the first Air Sole shoes – to the uber-famous, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Either way, it is clear that great partners help to make a great business.

Many of the things Nike did correctly to grow big, it did when it was small. Don't let its size today fool you. You can learn from what they did right, if only you: Just Do It!

Today's Tip: Five years ago, on August 14, 2003, the northeast United States suffered from the largest blackout in U.S. history. The estimated financial loss from the blackout was a collective $6 billion, and not a small percentage of that came from small businesses that were unprepared for such an event.

At that time I teamed up with Emerson Network Power to help small business understand just how important, and easy, it is to have a backup power system. My friends at Emerson recently sent me the results of a survey stating that, even still, far too many small businesses are not prepared for a blackout:

• A whopping 79% of all small business owners said they experienced a blackout just last year

• And 42% of them had to close the doors at some point because of that.

Bottom line: If you don't have a backup power system, get one!

Ask an Expert appears Mondays. You can e-mail Steve Strauss at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com.And you can click here to see previous columns. Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is The Small Business Bible. You can sign up for his free newsletter, "Small Business Success Secrets!" at his website —www.mrallbiz.com.

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