Ben Franklin’s Passive Income Stream
Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 17, 2011
Here is a portion of an article that will be posted in full on the TEAM site later today. Ben Franklin’s life is captivating, his understand of wealth and time is educating, and his residual income streams created are motivating. Enjoy. God Bless, Orrin Woodward
Over 300 years ago, in the city of Boston, a port town in the burgeoning American colonies, a baby was born on the frontier edge of the British empire, whose impact on history boggles the imagination, named Benjamin Franklin, but later in life, praised as “the first great American.” With superhuman exploits in business, science, politics, diplomacy, and nation building, as a Founding Father, the fascination with Franklin will continue indefinitely, at least as long as history is written. Much has been written, and rewritten, on the achievements of this great man, but surprisingly, little has been written on his economic engine, that allowed this polymathic genius the leisure to dabble in his many areas of interest. It’s not too much to say, that Franklin’s greatest discovery personally, was a forerunner of today’s modern franchising, allowing him the financial independence that led to nearly all of his other discoveries. Without the freedom from toil, necessitated by the need to maintain life, Franklin would be remembered as little more than a colonial printer, but through his understanding of the principles of wealth, learned through countless years of self study, Franklin created a printing network that spanned throughout American colonies. It was this monumental achievement, arguably the first ever franchise model, that sparked Franklin’s meteoric rise to worldwide fame, displaying what a free man, one no longer bound by the enervating ennui of life, can achieve by investing his newly won freedom in the service of humanity. A cursory review of the highlights of Franklin’s life will serve as proof what free men can do with free time:
1. Set up the world’s first franchise type model, freeing himself from day to day work routine, typically necessary in order to make a living.
2. Developed systems for paving, cleaning and lighting city streets.
3. Introduced new trees, cereals and fertilizers to America.
4. Invented swim fins, improving swimming speeds and the famed Franklin Stove, improving the heat efficiency of wood fires.
5. Conceived and recruited the formation of a citizen’s fire brigade, reducing the damage incurred by fires.
6. The founding of an academy that later became the University of Pennsylvania.
7. The organization of city and province defenses during the Indian wars.
8. Conceived and founded America’s first public library.
9. Discovered electricity and its nature through countless experiments performed in his free time, making him a world renown scientific figure.
10. Invented bifocals, created concept of daylight savings, and charted the Gulf Stream temperatures of the Atlantic.
11. As an author, he wrote and published Poor Richard’s Almanac, one of the best selling publications in early American history. His autobiography has become a classic in literature, influencing millions of people with his message of personal improvement, public service, and philanthropy.
12. As postmaster general, he revolutionized the mail service delivery of the colonies, by implementing home delivery and one day service.
13. As a later revolutionary politician, he played an active part in the creation of nearly every major document, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the war alliance with France, and the peace treaty with England. In fact, he was the only party to sign all four.
14. Shortly before his death, Franklin accepted the presidency of a society formed to end the stain of slavery in America.
These achievements are enough to satisfy a dozen men of renown, but nearly unfathomable when one ponders that all of this was achieved by a run-away youth starting with no wealth in colonial America. The question is, how could anyone find the time to perform all of these activities, while excelling in every field? The answer is a combination of disciplined time management and a relentless pursuit of knowledge, and the freedom obtained through his franchising business model. Franklin learned early the multiplying effect of good leadership, leading himself through a rigorous program of self development, even, for a period of time, becoming a vegetarian in order save money to invests in more books. Franklin fed his brain before his belly. But he didn’t stop there, Franklin studied the greatest influencers of his age, seeking to develop the right mix of charm, posture, and tact to go along with his unquestioned character, becoming a leader of leaders. In fact, Franklin developed one of the first personal development programs, freely sharing his success system in his autobiography, and in his yearly Poor Richard’s Almanac, loaded with witty sayings, pearls of financial wisdom, and solid leadership thoughts. Franklin was a hungry student, studying principles of character, task and relationships to improve his leadership, writing, “Not a tenth part of wisdom was my own.” Franklin’s personal leadership program is conveyed best in Launching a Leadership Revolution, Chris Brady’s and the author’s Wall Street Journal number one best seller, “So Benjamin Franklin did what we have been discussing in this chapter: he deliberately set out upon a program of personal growth. He selected thirteen virtues he felt worthy of his attention and organized a demanding schedule of improvement and tracking. He would work on one virtue for four weeks at a time, recording his progress or lack thereof, then move on to the next virtue, repeating the cycle over and over throughout several years.” Even though Franklin had no formal education, he was one of the most educated men in America, teaching himself English, Italian, and French, displaying a voracious hunger to learn that he maintained his entire life. Franklin leadership training may have been the most significant development in his life, since all the other achievements flowed from his mastery of self and others, through leadership.
When Franklin was still a boy, he apprenticed with his elder brother, James, in a printing house. Learning the ins and outs of the newspaper and printing business, while actively educating himself with his free hours, many times, reading until late in the night. Several books, like Plutarch, Defoe, and Mather impacted him greatly. His world-view, developed from his readings, seeing history as the stage in which great men and women acted, included in this, was that virtuous men and women bettered societies, that individuals counted in the making of history, and that fortune favored the bold, at least on earth anyhow. Franklin set upon a course to become one of these great men, history would record that he was not disappointed in his quest. Franklin’s rise in business began at the early age of 16, when he ran away from his hometown of Boston, tired of the abuse from his older brother, starting work at a Philadelphia print shop. In less than three years, Franklin built a reputation in Philadelphia as a diligent worker with a witty pen, a man on the move up, becoming well known as a prominent printer in the young city. Franklin’s world-view is best displayed in his decision, at only 42 years of age, to hand over his successful printing enterprise in order to focus on his many areas of interests, including science, politics, and local community affairs, writing to his mother, “I would rather have it said, ‘He lived usefully,’ than ‘He died rich’.” Franklin received his wish, dying one of the most influential people of the 18th century, while never having to work another day in his life. Franklin used his new found time, not for personal laziness, but for public usefulness.
Franklin could afford his early retirement because he had conceived of an ingenious plan to aid journeyman printers, helping them to own their own businesses. In a true spirit of win-win, the 26 year old Franklin, in 1731, was offered the position of South Carolina’s official printer for its public records, an opportunity that he declined because he didn’t wish to leave Philadelphia. But, instead of rejecting the offer outright, Franklin suggested an alternative plan, proposing to the Charleston officials that they hire one of his journeyman, Thomas Whitmarsh. Franklin would sponsor the project, helping the journeyman with the press equipment, fonts, funds, not to mention mentorship, while Whitmarsh would run the day to day operations in Charleston. All parties profited by this unique arrangement. South Carolina received a top notch journeyman, trained under the tutelage of Franklin; Whitmarsh received capital and mentorship, both factors in short supply in the colonies, allowing him the opportunity to own a business; lastly, Franklin, received one third of the profits for six years, after which, Whitmarsh could either buy out Franklin’s ownership interest or continue with his current financial arrangement. Since Franklin had capital, but little time, while the journeymen had time, but little capital, this arrangement benefitted both sides of the partnership, providing to each other, what each on their own lacked, a true example of a win-win trade. Franklin’s franchise marketing program expanded across the colonial cities, he looked for hungry, sober, hard working journeyman to be his long distant proxies, helping to build many sister newspapers, that dotted the colonial landscape, following the leadership of his Pennsylvania Gazette masthead. Over time, Franklin’s expansive printing empire reached all the way from Hartford in the north, and as far south as Antigua, with Lancaster, New York, and New Haven, too mention just a few, in between the two poles of influence, an impressive accomplishment in this largely agrarian society. In fact, by 1755, eight of the fifteen newspapers printed in colonial America were part of Franklin’s powerful conglomerate. Although not all his partnerships made money, most of them prospered under his leadership. Franklin forged partnerships for over fifty years, creating a residual income stream that left him free to pursue his purpose, no longer enslaved to monetary want.