7 Lessons from Confucius for Ecommerce Firms

Wisdom, corporate or personal, hasn’t changed much in 2,500 years, so it might appear. Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher and politician, has much to teach us about working an ecommerce business.

Confucius — Kong Qiu — was born in about 551 B.C.E.. He served in government. He edited or wrote five of the classics of Chinese literature. And he founded a philosophical movement.

Confucius’s sayings might have implications for contemporary ecommerce businesses. Image: Wikipedia.

His philosophy is based on common sense, Chinese heritage, and morality. Confucius is also infinitely quotable. And it was, in actuality, a number of his quotes that prompted this report. Allow me to explain.

Lately, I read”Reinvent Yourself,” a 2017 publication by James Altucher. Several chapters are dedicated to applying quotations or behaviors from business leaders, political leaders, as well as Superman to private, professional, or corporate expansion.

Altucher’s technique prompted me to consider quotes that have inspired me. These include seven from Confucius.

Lessons from Confucius

“Study the past if you would define the future” Your ecommerce adventure might appear unique. But there’s still a lot you can learn from others in our industry.

Twice a year, I sit down with the marketing directors and supervisors of approximately 40 brick-and-click retailers to talk about what is working and what isn’t. We teach each other how to become better leaders, supervisors, and innovators.

Study retail and ecommerce daily. Read articles, analyze case studies, listen to podcasts, and connect with peers and competitors.

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there’s guaranteed to be failure.” Ecommerce requires preparation and persistent implementation. To operate a standard retail ecommerce company, you likely will need to place buy orders weeks in advance — forecasting demand and earnings.

Clothing buyers buy winter products in June and spring products in October. Similarly, terrific ecommerce advertising plans can take weeks or months of preparation.

“When it’s obvious that your goals can’t be reached, do not adjust your objectives, adjust the activities.” I paraphrased this one a bit. But the idea is still the same. You have presumably establish goals for your ecommerce company, like sales targets or the amount of inventory items.

Regardless, there’ll probably be times when it becomes apparent you won’t reach your goal if you stay in your current course. You can opt to miss the target, or you may opt to take additional action.

“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” Entrepreneurship isn’t the glamorous career path it has been made out to be,” wrote Steve Tobak, a management consultant, in an Entrepreneur article.

“It is not about big ideas and ideals. It is not about dreams and hopes. It is not about guts and glory. It is not even about innovation and invention. And it is definitely not about a search for fame and fortune.

“More than anything, entrepreneurship is a game of attrition. It is about getting the determination, the subject, and the money to see it through. It is about not giving up and being the last man or woman standing when everyone else has fallen by the wayside.”

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Ecommerce success may come in a number of forms, however, in my experience, it is the result of doing lots of smaller things well.

“`One little step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and spoke these words, it was transformative. It was anything but “one” or “small.”

“Executing that first successful mission to the moon was composed of tens of thousands, and possibly even millions, of little actions and successes,” wrote Stephanie Breedlove, co-founder of Care.com, in a StartupNation post . “A giant leap of the magnitude doesn’t happen overnight; nor does this happen with broad strokes of work. It’s the exact same for successful jumps in entrepreneurship. They’re always composed of many little steps and little victories.”

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” We’d all expect our ecommerce operations are perfect, flawless gems. We would like our platform to operate perfectly. We need every order to be sent in time and arrive as anticipated. We want every customer interaction to be the greatest possible. But that isn’t reality.

Very often ecommerce entrepreneurs encounter defects, problems, and workarounds. However, it’s better these than no company in any way.

“He who won’t economize will have to agonize.” In April of this year, Business Insider reported that brick-and-mortar retail companies were filing for bankruptcy in record amounts . Some pundits blame the development of ecommerce. But finally it was lack of money which killed these companies.

If you prefer your ecommerce business to be a success, spend less than you make .

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years back. The next best time is now.” While this expression is frequently attributed to Confucius, it’s more likely a general Chinese proverb that seems like something he would say. I will call it a half lesson. If you will need to modify your ecommerce company — or perhaps launch a new one — do it now.

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