When studying business and trying to get one of your own off the ground, one of the most important lessons you can learn comes not from a textbook but from observation. Nothing shows the young entrepreneur what works and what doesn’t by studying the most successful businesses and what they have done to reach their lofty heights. That doesn’t mean you should copy their business model from stem to stern, but the examination of their practices may give you some good ideas about how to launch, maintain, and progress with your company through the life of your career. The first company the wise entrepreneur should look at is Nike. The company is the largest sportswear provider in the world. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to sell, though, be it sneakers or computers, there are lessons to be learned from Nike’s history and their continued success in the American marketplace. These lessons range from successful logo and motto (there are few among us who cannot identify the Nike swoosh or the motto “Just Do It”), to the determined drive that the company put forth in making sure they permeated the entire sports and fashion world. While Nike may be best known for sneakers, an enormous part of their profits and business model comes from sweatshirts, t-shirts, shorts, pants, hats, and jackets. Anything you can feasibly put the swoosh on, they’ve tried it. And through doing this, they’ve established themselves as the dominant force in the sportswear marketplace. Apple, Inc is not only wonderful companies to look at when one considers those companies that are successful and have made a strong name for themselves in the marketplace, but they are a great example of a company that mastered the art of the comeback. At the start of the eighties, it was basically Apple and IBM in a race for first place. Thousands of homes all over America had Apple personal computers on their desks. But just a few scant years later, the PC was king, Microsoft was everything, and Apple was forgotten. Though they maintained a place in the marketplace with mildly successful software applications, they didn’t break through again until the late nineties with a product called the iMac. This computer was revolutionary in virtually no way, other than its marketing campaign and its exterior design. With its translucent, colorful shell, the iMac went on to become a major success, and give Apple its first profitable days in five years. This was of course followed by the enormously successful iPod and iPhone, and today Apple is in a better market position than ever before. Studying companies such as Apple and Nike (and thousands of others) is important for a variety of reasons. Not only can these companies relate terrific stories of how to succeed in today’s world, but they can be mightily inspirational for the up and coming entrepreneur. Books are plentifully available, and recommended for anyone wanting to compete in today’s America.