Zen and the Art of E-Commerce

Shopify store owners know what it is to work in an environment that is always changing. Keeping on top of everything can be overwhelming, but let's step back and look at the experience.

This post is for everyone out there who manages an online shop. It's your job or lifestyle choice, but we all know it can be an uphill struggle. It may not be the experience that you were hoping for when you embarked upon your journey.

Like many 'things' in life, it is your thoughts about those things that make them what they are. Good or bad. The duties you carry out to enable your shop to survive are bound up in your personality, your 'ego' if you like. In the case of a lifestyle business, it may just be you or you and one other person that look after the business. In this case, your personality reflects everything about that store. That's just fine when you are feeling good about yourself and your 'success'. How about when you are feeling low and your ego is beating you up about these things.

  • You aren't expanding fast enough
  • Your sales are down on last month
  • You never installed that marketing app which promised a lift in sales and revenue.
  • You didn't take a day off!
  • You didn't get back to that supplier, pay that bill, check your credit card statement.
  • Your family hasn't been on holiday this year because you are so busy all the time.

Sound familiar?

Triumph and Disaster

The truth is that you can't be successful or 'up' all the time and you have to treat success and failure in the same way.

From the poem 'if' by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

Understanding this will help you to make decisions from a distance and not from an place of emotion. You will learn that you can only do your best and that you can't control everything or everyone!

Applying Zen to your Working Life

Sometimes working with Zen feels like you are turning yourself into a robot! Many any practitioners appear to lack empathy because they distance themselves from their ego. This is not the case though. They are watching their thoughts and making decisions based on what is real and not imagined.

A fun experiment is to watch your actions and thoughts throughout a working day. Make a note when you feel that you are getting angry or happy. What was the trigger? Was it a large sale through your store or did a customer yell at you? Did something happen to you that was nothing to do with work, but harmed your efforts? Experience the highs and lows of your day as if you were an observer and see where you get taken by your mind.

After some time, you will begin to see that as your shop is an extension of you. All the useless worry you pour into it makes it difficult to look after, but ultimately all you need to do is relax. The rest will take care of itself. If you sell a product that people need (or want) at the right price, your business will work. If you promote your shop to the right people, your business will work. if your business begins to work, conversations with suppliers and manufacturers will be easier. Why? Because they will want a part of your success, or at least what they see as success.

The web is a busy, erratic place. It's full of hawkers telling you that you need this or that to make your shop run smoothly. The trick is to remember that you exist, your products exist and that customers exist. Between those things there are many moving parts. Manage those as best you can, but you will not be able to do everything you think that you can. Thinking is fantasy after all.

Richard Bairstow is the founder and CEO of We are Underground and is recognised as a leading authority in the Shopify Theme marketplace with 5 of the best selling published themes within the Shopify theme store and over 20,000 active Shopify customers.

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