Online Sellers: 12 INCREDIBLE Sun Tzu The Art of War QUOTES FOR BUSINESS (eCommerce)

Online Sellers: 12 INCREDIBLE Sun Tzu The Art of War QUOTES FOR BUSINESS (eCommerce)

Posted by Big Brand on 8th Feb 2021

There are two specific books I have read that have shaped my entire business-life.  The Art of War by Sun Tzu is one of them.  And today I am going to share some quotes from the book with you that will change the entire way you think about online selling.  

1. "Sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war." - Think of this like an unhappy customer or a chargeback. Sometimes you have to surrender that battle to live to fight another day. If you invest 2 hours into arguing with a customer over a shirt you sold them for $19, you could have instead spent those couple hours listing 15 more items to sell, or shipping 10 orders to HAPPY, repeat buyers. Know when to surrender the small battles so you can better reposition for the larger battle. 

2. “Secret operations are essential in war; upon them, the army relies to make its every move.” - This is a great quote because it reminds us that what we do in our personal and business lives should not be shared freely on Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat. Keep your personal life, and plans quiet. Move in secrecy.  

3. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” - YES!! Such an amazing quote to live by. Never let a solid opportunity pass. Yet choose your opportunities wisely. 

4. “The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.” - AMEN! This is the situation that occurs when you don’t follow your gut and listen to outsiders who are more-than-eager to give you advice on what you “should do”, yet they don’t have to live with the consequences of their advice. “You should buy those ceramic flower pots! Everyone loves flower pots! You’ll sell out in a day!” … so you rush to buy the flower pots… but as soon as they arrive you discover they are so large that it will cost no less than $25 to ship one to the next state over. God forbid you have to ship one across the country for $85. Now the $4.99 flower pot turned into an item you need to ask $50+ for… and you have 110 of them now taking up your living room floor and couch… and your sister who insisted these were a sure-fire-seller doesn’t actually want to buy any from you because she already has plenty... 

5. The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought - Now here is the opposite of the aforementioned quote. You need to be calculated and wise. If you’re not sure about something, figure it out BEFORE you pull the trigger. If you’re thinking about investing in a new product, getting a new web host or even leasing your first space for your business…. Be a General and plan it out. Make strategic decisions and you WILL win. 

6. “The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities. It is best to win without fighting.” - OMG… YESSSSSSS!!!!! No truer words ever spoken. People who have not yet learned to master their emotions tend to think that they can incite you into a frenzy that could result in online back-and-forth drama or even a physical altercation.  Like the saying goes, "Haters gonna hate".  However, once you learn to 100% control your emotions you will be able to strategize, resulting in the cornering and submission of the hater without any outrage on your end. And truthfully, the best revenge on a bully is catching them off guard with legal paperwork they never expected. If you can’t afford a lawyer, just shut them down online with a witty comeback that will make them embarrassed to comment again.  Back in my day we used to call this a "burn", but my kids say "ROASTED!!!!!".  Once you get them into a corner with no escape they usually give up. 

7. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” - this is basically the same quote as above but said in a different way. It’s just so beautiful. I love the idea of winning without casualties.  Surprisingly, the idea of "war without physical war" is an avid topic throughout the entire book, which is fascinating because, based on the title being "The Art of War" one would assume the book is about literal battle.

8. “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” - This is essentially a "Part 2" to the above bullet-points; very similar to what we previously discussed: Know when the time comes to stand up for yourself, your company and your merchandise, but equally have awareness of when the time comes to “take the L” and move on. There’s a few things I can assure you of when it comes to arguing / debating with a customer:

  • The longer it drags out, the more it COSTS YOU
  • If the customer isn’t reasonable now, they’re not going to suddenly become reasonable and there is absolutely no way to reason with the unreasonable
  • If you are dealing with someone who won’t cooperate, there is a reason for their behaviour. Usually it is because they aren’t being honest with you, but sometimes they just think they’re better than you… either way, nothing is going to change their attitude towards you
  • Most of the time it is easiest to just accept a return or issue a refund (or both) than to commence in battle. Unfortunately, dishonest customers are well aware of this, hence the reason they scream and yell instead of just helping you help them
  • Every single moment you spend invested in war with this idiot is a minute you are taking away from your success. So ask yourself “how much is this conflict REALLY WORTH?
  • Having principle is fine but when you reach the point where you are investing you life into trying to have a buyer take an action based on your morality, you are only at war to win a battle and not at war for the greater good. 

For example, if a buyer bought a $9.99 used tank top and they insist it is damaged yet refuse to send photos or even explain what the supposed "damage" is, you spend 5 days demanding they send images and they reply with excuses over and over… yet you are absolutely determined to PROVE that this b*tch is a liar (instead of just letting the fibber return it) … Ask yourself: "what are you trying to prove and who are you trying to prove it to?"   Yes, you want to prove that rotten God-awful buyer is dishonest and deserves to rot in a pit of fire and filth… but who are you sincerely proving it to? Unfortunately the answer is, nobody other than yourself.... however, you already know the truth is that the buyer is a terribly dishonest person, so there is no reason to continue to embark down the trail of evidence. 

You and I both know that as much as a crappy, dishonest person makes our blood boil, reality is that they DON’T DESERVE our time. Solution: like Sun Tzu said, “Know when to fight and not to fight” - just tell them to return it. Take your L on this evil soul and resell the stunning top to the next person who will cherish that friggin awesome Vintage Hello Kitty graphic racerback.

9. “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.” - If you have employees, make this your motto. I have always tried to be a shining light for my staff. Just like any other person in the entire world, I have gone through times in my life where I truly could not shine as bright as I wanted to. In fact, I have went through some really, really dark times. But even during those times I have tried my best to be motivational, encouraging and treat my people well. I went out of my way to try to surprise everyone who has been with my company with gifts, food and other small things I thought would make them realize that I truly care. Yet I’m sure some people who have worked for me will tell you “it was the WORST JOB EVER!!!” meanwhile others will say the exact opposite. While you can’t make everyone happy, you can always try to give it your all, and more importantly, treat people respectfully, and hope things work out in the end.

10. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” - This is such a deep quote for business because it’s so relevant. No matter how much your competitor throws at you, as long as you know them inside and out you are able to counter-move with ease. Business is like a Chess board; your opponent makes a play, so you respond by sliding your piece, then it is their turn again. If you look at business (and life) like that, there is nothing to fear; it’s all just moves.

11. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” - Another great quote about life and business. This quote reminds me of the people with 0 emotion control; you know, those people who do whatever, wherever it “feels right” with no forethought of what the consequences may be from their actions. I have always considered these people to be of little intelligence. I’m sure you know people like this; I, unfortunately, have one of them in my life. These beings seem to have exceptionally low comprehension skill and, for some reason, tend to think they can force you to quit. However, if you plan ahead and prepare for their attacks, there is no surprise when the attack happens and you already have your next Chess move planned. You simply cannot beat someone more wise than you.  

12. “If you are far from the enemy, make him believe you are near.” - This is imperative. No matter who your competition is, make sure that when they lay down at night they check your page / site to see what you got listed today and what you sold. Make sure they give you free rent in their mind. The more they think about you, the less they think about themselves and their business. If you think about you and they think about you, you are guaranteed to defeat them because 100% of the focus IS ON YOU!! Work your business every single day knowing they want to dethrone you.  Work like this is the last day you will every be in business, no matter how financially good today was.  Work an extra hour or two just to plague their thoughts.  

If you loved this article, I strongly suggest scoring The Art of War. You can get it used on Amazon for as little as $3.99 with free shipping!:

At the beginning of this article I said there were two business books that changed my life.  This is the second one (IT IS NOT POLITICAL!!!  I would NEVER promote a political book of any form on this blog because I do not believe in discussing politics).  But this book was written in the 1980s!  It's sincerely a phenomenal book that will make you not want to stop reading.  It's so good that I have read it 5+ times, loaned it out many times, not gotten it back and bought it over again!  For a small business, all of the content in this book will make you realize you CAN do ANYTHING!): 

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