Lessons from Famous Entrepreneurs: Benjamin Franklin

Lessons from Famous Entrepreneurs: Benjamin Franklin

Photo Source: Creative Commons, Public Domain

Photo Source: Creative Commons, Public Domain

When Benjamin Franklin is discussed, we often think of the founding fathers, the Revolutionary War, inventions, and famous quotes. There is far more to the story worth considering, especially for young professionals and entrepreneurs. Benjamin Franklin was also a highly successful entrepreneur, whose experiences building his business helped him to build a new nation on timeless principles. He was a student of the sciences, an inventor, writer and chronic innovator. His words of wisdom on life and business are as applicable now, as they were then.

Benjamin Franklin was born in what is now Boston Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706. His father was a candle and soap maker. Despite learning to read at a young age, Franklin stopped his formal schooling when he was 10 to help his father run the family business. Not content making candles and soap, he was apprenticed to his brother Josiah, a print maker. At the age of 16 he had his first writings published under the moniker Silence Dogood, and began a history of political thinking that was by its nature subversive to tyranny. 

Despite three years remaining in his contract with his brother, he chose to leave for New York and then Philadelphia, Pennsylvania because of his brother’s harsh behavior. By 1730, Franklin was the official printer of Pennsylvania. His purchase of the Pennsylvania Gazette turned it into one of the widest read newspapers in the colonies, and one of the first to be truly profitable. Franklin began to purchase interests in a diverse range of local businesses and real estate in Pennsylvania and became a prominent member of colonial society. Because of his diverse interests in science, business, art, and politics, he was well regarded in Europe as a renaissance man. Many of his sayings are filled with practical wisdom that are as essential today as they were then.  For his ethic, achievements and innovation Benjamin Franklin has not undeservedly been called the “First American.”

“Success has ruined many a man.” – Benjamin Franklin
Truer words have seldom been spoken. This warning from one of the most successful men in the history of the United States deserves attention. Many times, quick success can end up ruining the lives of those who achieve it, and do not manage their lives well. Franklin was aware of how power and money can bring out the worst parts of people’s character. Consider this while climbing the ladder in life, that you don’t fall by your hand. Be careful not to let whatever you achieve get to your head.

“Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.”  – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin is famous for his work ethic. It is okay to have a lazy day. Be mindful though that it not become a lifestyle. It is amazing how fast poverty moves.  Franklin was well aware of the perils of wasting time. He was in almost continuous motion trying to build a life for himself and then helping to build the essential structures of the United States. Laziness will not do when exceptional is the goal. 

Saying and Doing, have quarrel'd and parted.- Benjamin Franklin
This is perhaps one of the most important lessons to learn in life. It is far better to do, than to simply say. A lot of times, we can become so excited about a project or venture that we will not stop talking about it. The more we talk about something, often times the less we do. Better to do than to say, talk about what you have done, not what you are going to do. 

“Hear Reason, or she'll make you feel her.”- Benjamin Franklin
In any situation, business, love, war, politics or life, reason has the final word. You cannot argue with reality. Learn to see and hear it before you have to feel it. It is far easier to avoid an oncoming train than it is to recover from being hit by one, if you survive in the first place. 

“Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin
A fitting quote to end on. Time is the most precious commodity. When it is gone, it cannot be borrowed, bought, or stolen. Use yours in a way that helps you build the life you want to live. Nothing is more valuable. If you lose it, it is never found again. 

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