Running a business can be challenging and confusing. As an online business owner, you’re constantly juggling a slew of responsibilities: you need to keep your operations running smoothly in order to produce results; you need to be strategic and constantly plan for the future…
That’s where the ancient Stoic philosophy can help.
If you’ve never heard of stoicism before, then know that it is a school, of ancient Greek philosophy developed by Zeno of Citium in Athens that has influenced many great thinkers, including Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus.
Stoicism teaches us how to deal with challenges and stresses in life. It is also known as the art of flourishing and is centered on living a good life by accepting what happens to us instead of struggling against it.
Stoicism can be used as a way to tackle any challenge in your life head-on. For example, running an online business will inevitably bring challenges you have never faced before, but this philosophy can help you deal with them more effectively.
In this blog post, I am going to share with you key insights from ancient Stoicism that will help you operate your own business or online company with greater ease and efficiency.
1. Understand Your Motivation Behind Your Actions
The Stoics were big on understanding why we do things, and how that affects our ability to make decisions. By understanding what motivates us, what we want to achieve, and the amount of effort it takes to achieve those goals, we can make better life choices.
It should come as no surprise then that AmpiFire has embraced the Stoic virtues as part of our organizational culture and that most of our training programs ask participants to clearly define their reasons for joining the program. (Reading this blog may remind you to revisit your “Why?”)
It’s essential for keeping yourself sane through the ups and downs of running a business. Your motivation could be making money or using your skills to help people solve their problems with content marketing/technology (or both!). You also need to know what you hope to achieve from it.
Is it more than just making money? Would you like to build something that will last?
2. Prioritize Your Actions Based On Purpose And Sense Of Reason
Defining our purpose and sense of reason is paramount to running a successful online business.
We must define our goals both before we start any work or project, as it will guide the choices we make along the way. This can be difficult at times, but it is important to remember that what appears to be an empty action today could be the stepping stone that leads to greater success down the road.
By taking this approach, you can set yourself up for success by removing any unnecessary distractions from your path and staying focused on your goals.
The Stoics would say that it’s important to be clear about our purpose, so we can consistently make decisions in line with our highest values.
3. Quality Over Quantity
Another major lesson that I learned from the Stoics was to focus on quality over quantity.
It’s the famous adage that has been repeated so many times that it’s almost become a cliche. But its true meaning is something that should never be forgotten. Quality over quantity means focusing on the things you do well and making sure they’re up to par. If you’re not delivering quality in every aspect of your business, you’re likely to lose customers and revenue over time.
When I first started my online business, I was all about quantity. I thought the more content I wrote, the better.
But then I started reading about Stoic Philosophy and I realized that when it comes to writing content for my business, sometimes less can be more.
Running an online business isn’t just about having a good idea and putting it out there—it’s also about how much time and effort you put into making your idea work. And if you want to make sure that your business is successful, then you need to make sure that you’re not wasting time on things that don’t matter or aren’t within your control.
That might mean cutting back on social media or advertising—and instead focusing on building relationships with customers who actually want what you have to offer, and helping them get the most out of their experience with your brand.
Or maybe it means making sure that every piece of content has real value for people reading it—and not just throwing together something quick just because someone else says they should be doing it.
4. Identify The Things You Can Control
It is useful to be clear on what you can and cannot control in your business. For instance, if you need help with content creation, content planning, or blogging or marketing, think about things that you can outsource to our team rather than doing them yourself… especially when such tasks eat up too much of your time from other important tasks like doing outreach, serving existing customers better, or closing new deals.
Remember that the things you can control are your thoughts, actions, and reactions. You can’t control the actions of others. You can’t control the results of your actions (or anything YOU do). And you can’t control external events that happen in your life.
5. Focus On Progress Rather Than Perfection
I have observed that one of the core values of Stoic philosophy is to focus on progress, not perfection.
Having a successful online business can at times be very challenging, and people often lose sight of what they want to accomplish and end up getting discouraged and give up altogether.
Even if you’re not where you want to be today, there’s always tomorrow to look forward to. And even if things don’t always go according to plan, there’s still plenty of time for things to turn around. So keep pushing forward and don’t give up.
As you might know, Jay also enjoys discussing Stoicism. He is not shy about explaining how his life has been impacted by philosophy. He talked about the importance of having a focus in some of his King Rule Sales Challenge sessions and in this post in the Amplifyers: Content Marketing Kings Facebook Group:
* Little Side Note! Beware of the Shiny Object Syndrome
If you’re not careful, you might be tempted by the next big thing. If a new platform comes along that looks promising, your temptation will be to take on something new and exciting because it sounds like it could make you a lot of money.
The problem is that when you jump on board with an undeveloped opportunity without doing any research or planning, you run the risk of wasting time and resources on something that doesn’t work out as well as expected. Rather than chasing every new opportunity that comes along, focus on building processes and systems that can support growth in multiple areas at once (like content creation and marketing).
The best entrepreneurs on the planet have insane focus for ONE end goal!
You only need to be awesome at one thing, and you only need one website to be hugely successful. The most successful people on the planet are primarily known for one thing. Splitting your time between multiple projects will only dilute the success of each project, and none will progress to where they would if you focused on them solely 100%.
Sure, on top of my online biz I could invest in Forex or do something else as well, but if I do that, then I won’t be able to grow my main biz by 500% this year as that takes extreme dedication.
Focus is not to be confused with only doing launches, or to only have one skill in your business. Focus is taking ONE tightly defined business towards one tightly focused end goal. If you are stuck in the launch trap, don’t start looking for ANOTHER business to do, or product after product to launch, look at the business you have and how you can pivot and move it forward.
I abandoned a 6 figure business to let it run on auto-pilot because I saw a bigger opportunity. Saying no to a business I built which I could grow into 7 figures was an incredibly tough decision, but I could truly only take one opportunity.
You should say ‘No’ to almost all opportunities. Saying ‘yes’ should be a rare experience. Take the one thing with the biggest potential, and reach that potential. If it doesn’t go the right way, pivot.
6. Evaluate Yourself Critically
Being honest with yourself is very important. The only way to overcome your weaknesses and strengths is to acknowledge them.
For example, if you want to improve your business but feel there are certain things holding you back, you need to step back and examine them. Can they be changed? Are there other areas of your life that need to be addressed first?
Being too hard on yourself will only hurt your growth. Instead, focus on progress and how far you’ve come rather than focusing on what you haven’t done yet. By doing this, you’ll be able to focus your energy on where it matters most: creating value for people through your work.
The key to overcoming our circumstances is to accept them and work through them with patience and perseverance. It is easier to cope with the inevitable setbacks that come with any business venture when we evaluate ourselves objectively and set realistic goals for improvement.
7. Be Prepared For Anything And Everything That May Come Your Way
Stoicism encourages you to live according to your inner strength in times of both prosperity and adversity so that you can face whatever situation comes your way with peace of mind.
A stoic would never be afraid to be wrong. In fact, the stoics made it a point to embrace the fact that they were not always right and were even willing to admit it.
You should expect to encounter challenges along the way, from unexpected outages to technical difficulties.
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu talks about how there are two types of people in this world: those who are good at dealing with failure and those who aren’t. He goes on to say that if you want to win battles, you need someone who can handle it when things go wrong or don’t turn out as planned.
One thing I learned from this book is that we really don’t know what will happen in life until we experience it ourselves first-hand. Be vigilant and not be afraid of the unknown because we can’t predict what’s going to happen next. We should be like a soldier who is always on guard and ready to respond to any threats or attacks.
As someone who has spent most of my life running an online business, I find myself constantly looking for ways to improve.
Digital Marketing is a fast-paced industry and by the time you launch your latest product or service, competitors have already begun working on their next big thing. That’s why it’s important to learn from others’ mistakes as well as from your own.
I’m fortunate enough that there are many resources available for people like me—books, blogs, podcasts and courses—that can help us stay on top of our game by teaching us how we can provide better service or become more efficient in our work days (or both!).
As you can see, the ancient Greek philosophers have much to offer today’s online business owners. They understood that running a business was not as simple as just having a good idea and then executing it. Instead, it requires focus, perseverance, willpower and resilience in order to succeed.