What small business owners can learn from Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin speaks through the ages to small business owners. (Flickr photo by AndrewMalone)

This tweet caught my attention a couple weeks ago: “14 Action Inducing Lessons from Ben Franklin.” Written by freelance writer Thea Easterby, the article linked to the tweet takes some of Franklin’s aphorisms and pulls lessons from them that, I concluded after reading the piece, are extremely appropriate for anyone trying to build a small business.

If Ben Franklin were around today, he would undoubtedly wear the label “entrepreneur.” He had an extremely creative mind and a zeal for turning his ideas into reality. He created the nation’s first lending library and invented bifocals, the lightening rod, and the Franklin stove, just to name a few of the ideas that sprang from his exploring mind.

Fortunately for us, Franklin was also a prolific author, leaving behind numerous bits of philosophy that we all can benefit from. In fact, I think there is more good advice for small business owners in Easterby’s short article on Franklin’s wisdom than in many books I’ve read from various business gurus. I urge you to read the article and to consider posting the lessons mentioned near your desk. I think they will carry you through many a hard spot as you try to build your small business.

My favorite among the lessons from Franklin from this article is this: “Never confuse motion with action.” Easterby translates that into “avoid busywork,” but I think it actually goes deeper than that in this age of 24/7 connectedness and multi

tasking. I constantly see people who are ridiculously busy but not actually accomplishing much. Or at least not much that will propel their business to greater heights. They are not asking themselves if what they’re doing every day is really what needs to be done in order to achieve greater success. Instead, they’re just running on a treadmill, which feels like you’re busy but isn’t really taking you anywhere.

Let me know which piece of advice from the Franklin article hits home for you. Or whether there are any other pieces of advice from the past that you use to guide you as you strive to move your small business forward.

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