“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17th in Boston, Massachusetts, and lived from 1706 to 1790. According to msnbc.com, he is often called the first entrepreneur. His father, Josiah Franklin, had nine sons before Ben was born; however, Ben’s mother Abiah was Josiah’s second wife. Josiah, a candle maker, had seventeen children in all before his death. Although Josiah had dreams for Ben to become a clergy man, Ben had other hopes and dreams that would change the world forever.
Benjamin Franklin’s career as a salesman started when he was just twelve years old. His father could not afford the many years of school it would take for Ben to be a clergy man, Ben only attended one year of school. Since he loved to read a lot, his father felt that he would do well as an apprentice to his brother, James, who was a printer. Ben would help James write up pamphlets and set the type. After that was done, Ben would take the pamphlets and sell James’ and his own products to people on the street.
Ben would eventually run away from James in 1723, and rumors say that abuse was the cause. After several hardships, Ben ended up in Philadelphia married to Deborah Read. The couple opened their print shop and store where Ben’s printing business was held and Deborah sold her products, from soap to fabric. In 1733, Franklin began to publish Poor Richard’s Almanac with sections for weather, recipes, predictions and homilies. He did not use his real name, but instead penned the almanac as Richard Saunders. Many of our famous Ben Franklin Quotes actually came from Poor Richard.
As most of us know, Ben Franklin went on to invent some of the world’s most important creations. Bifocals were one of his accomplishments, brought forth out of his own need. He suffered from a condition that is known as presbyopia, which causes one to need glasses for seeing both up close and far away. Although he did not invent electricity, he is attributed with its discovery. What he learned about it would lead to the creation of thousands of new products, with thousands more to come. He also invented new words for his discoveries, a few of which are: battery, charge, condenser, conductor, plus, minus, positively, negatively and armature.
Franklin made many contributions to the world we live in. His entrepreneurial spirit drove him to help launch projects that would pave the streets of Philadelphia, as well as clean them up and light their pathways. He also started the Library Company in 1731, where he made it possible for poor people to read and own books. It was the first ever subscription library in America. Franklin also helped create the Philadelphia Hospital and Philosophical Society. When he saw many of his fellow Philadelphians suffer great monetary and psychological losses in house fires, he helped create the Philadelphia Contribution for Insurance against Loss by Fire. Ever wonder where we got the idea for homeowner’s insurance?
Pbs.org calls Franklin a “Writer, inventor, diplomat, businessman, musician, scientist, humorist, civic leader, international celebrity . . . genius.” Not only did this entrepreneur allow his ideas to make a better life for Americans, but he helped build what is now known as America. He joined the fight for independence, which thankfully was won. As his life shows, we, as entrepreneurs, should never let our ideas and talents go to waste.
“Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” Ben Franklin
Angela Kaye Mason is an online researcher, writer, and contributor at entrepreneurweek.com blog network. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Angela on Twitter. Find her on Facebook .
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