confucius business quotes

5 Quotes By Confucius On Running A Small Business

  • November 11th, 2015
  • Erik Larson

Confucius was a wise guy, and he can help your business.

Chinese culture is known for many things. Not only are they know for their business sense, but for their philosophy as well. So it’s no wonder that one of their most popular philosophers, Confucius, has a number of quotes related to running a business. Here are 5 of the best quotes by Confucius on running your small business:

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

When applied to running a small business, it means you shouldn’t panic even if growth is slowing down. As long as your small business is not shrinking or losing money, you should not worry. Progress is always good even if it’s not always moving at breakneck speeds. Remember that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if you’re not going to IPO in the first 3 months, if you persevere and keep at it, you will outlast many of your competitors.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

When running a business, you should remember that all the theories, planning, feasibility studies and constant meetings will never amount to anything if there is no implementation. Business is about hearing, seeing, doing, and understanding. Watch what your competitors are doing, keep your ears close to the ground, and take action.

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”

Confucius places a lot of importance in preparing for the worst-case scenario, regardless of how much success your business is currently enjoying. This is because he believes that when you find success, you have much more to lose and as such must ensure that your business should take any potential crisis into account. Keep in mind that when it comes to running a business, encountering a crisis is an eventuality. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”

In this quote, Confucius underscores the importance of continuing education and keeping one’s skills fresh. In any industry, there will always be new technology or practices, or standards to follow. If your knowledge is stagnant, you could be left behind by competitors who keep abreast of industry trends, and those who continue to learn new principles or skills.

“He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”

This quote teaches that when running a business, learning and strategizing always go hand in hand. There should always be an effort to learn from any strategy you’ve implemented – why it failed or why it succeeded. A business shouldn’t just jump from one strategy or campaign into another without learning from it. On the other hand, a business shouldn’t just focus on theories and strategies without ever considering if it fits with their business model or campaign. Learning something new from a competitor isn’t so useful if it does not apply to your business.

What about you? Do you have any other quotes by Confucius on running a small business?

About the Author

  • Erik Larson

Erik Larson frequently writes for Lendio about SEO, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Business Loans, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He can be found on and Twitter.

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