Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Father of the United States of America. He was born to a working class family in January 1706 and died in April 1790 (Franklin, Woolman and Penn, 1909). He contributed to the United States in many regards including a scientist, politician, inventor and a diplomat (Brands, 2000). The focus of this paper is on Franklin’s achievements as an entrepreneur. Different aspects of Franklin’s personality will be assessed to shed some light on his valuable personality traits that contributed to his success as a successful entrepreneur at a young age. Franklin was without a doubt a great leader who was able to be inspire people at most of his actions throughout his life. This paper is divided into different sections under a variety of headings. This will provide me to be more specific and also provide the readers an opportunity to enjoy an ease of reading.
Benjamin Franklin was a firm believer in helping others with the achievements he had made. Throughout his life he had made numerous inventions including lightning rod, glass harmonica, urinary catheter, bifocal glasses and many more. But he never registered any patent for his inventions. He could have sold the patent rights for a large amount of money but he didn’t. Instead he believed that everyone should be able to take full advantage of his inventions as he has taken advantages from the inventions of others. In his autobiography he wrote (Cole, 2001):
“As we enjoy great advantages from the invention of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.”
This demonstrates the ethical standards that he followed in the business world. He was a business man with an open mind who believed in equal opportunity for everyone. This is a quality hard to find in the present world as competitors would do just anything to create a situation where they are the sole winners. If the philosophy of Franklin is followed, we could work together to help each other in solving problems.
Benjamin Franklin was well aware of the importance of establishing meaningful social relations with people around him and professionals. For this purpose he had been an active member of a small group of tradesmen called Junto. He was the one responsible to arrange weekly meetings of the group. Junto was actively providing services to the mankind at different fronts. The group was responsible for the establishment of a university, firefighting brigade, society for learning, a hospital and a library (Grim, 2002). The members of the Junto group were business men and hence they would send business opportunities towards each other. This group helped Franklin in establishing valuable business connections. He used these connections to benefit his business activities and increase his influence among the business community. He also gained public and political advantages from his business connections.
Research suggests that the openness to experience trait of the big five personality trait model is directly correlated to success in professional life (Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, and Barrick, 1999). This is the quality that one possess in order to be able to try new things and take risks. Franklin fits into this category of the big five model. He was curious about trying new things. This is the main reason he had invented so many things and had become a successful businessman at a young age.
Franklin also possessed the personality quality of being an extrovert. As I have earlier said that he was open to challenges and was able to try new things, he was also able to think out of the box. He was not a self-centered person. He was able to look at the outside world and learn from it. He was good at social networking and communicating his opinion to others. Extraversion is directly correlated to predisposition of positive experience according to research (Larsen, R. J., & Ketelaar, 1989). Franklin was of the view to look at the positive side of the discoveries that were going on at his time. His personality was that of involving others and getting involved with others.
It has been said that to be a good leader, you have to be a charismatic person. But is that all to leadership? I have a different opinion about leadership. I believe that to be a good leader, you have to be a pragmatic person. A real leader has to be sensible and realist, not an idealist. He/she should be able to look at the practicalities not the theoretical considerations. Benjamin Franklin was a pragmatic leader. The people who believed in him were due to his ability to communicate solutions to important problems of that time. He involved others in moving towards solutions and identified problems in a rational and logical manner. He was problem-centered. Franklin was able to identify structures that were necessary to address a problem and had a unique capability to make sure that others believed that these structures were feasible rather than imaginary (Mumford and Van, 2001).
Benjamin franklin was a great person when it comes to his professional ventures. But unfortunately when it comes to his personal life, he did not have a great one. Instead his life had many issues that he had to deal with. He married his wife, Deborah because he needed someone to care for his newborn son, Williams not because he loved her. Franklin was in Europe for most of his final years of his life. He spent 15 out of 18 of his final years of his life away from Deborah, in Europe. All this time she lived in Philadelphia, US. Franklin had extramarital relations with other women from time to time (Isaacson, 2003).
Benjamin Franklin has always been keen to write at newspapers. He first began to write letters to his brothers owned newspaper, The New England Courant when he was only 15 years of age. But these letters were not printed with his name. He knew that his brother would not print his letters, therefore he opted to write letters with a different name so that they can be printed.
Benjamin Franklin always wanted to be able to have his opinion heard by mases. For this purpose, in 1729, he bought Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper. This paper was a pioneer in printing political cartoons. Franklin used to write for the paper and his views were appreciated by a large number of people. This newspaper played an important role in the early American politics (Ziff, 1991). The writings of Benjamin Franklin were able to create a political awareness among the general public.
Benjamin Franklin remained a loyal Englishman for most of his life. He had a firm believe that it was in the best interest of the American people to remain loyal to the British Empire. He served as the representative of Pennsylvania and Georgia for a few years till 1775.
Franklin’s views started change about remaining a part of the British Empire in 1765. All of the Americans demonstrated against the Stamp Act which was a surprise for him. The stamp act was imposed by the British Rule to impose a stamp tax on newspapers and other commercial documents (Thomas, 1975). . He played an important role in the repeal of this act by appearing in front of the parliament and providing a testimony against the Act of the Parliament. The representatives of the British Empire were extremely corrupt and Franklin was frustrated by their behavior.
He split his ways with the British Empire and started to propagate for an independence after he got hold of some letters of Thomas Hutchinson, the then governor of Massachusetts who was a royal representative and has called for “an abridgment of what are called English Liberties” in America. He made these letters public and it created an unrest and an outrage in the American public against the British Rule.
Benjamin Franklin was a unique person who had been good at a variety of activities. He invented an electric heating equipment called Franklin Stove in 1943 which was the most energy efficient electrical device of its time (James and Rogers, 1965). Franklin is the founder of the Swimming Fins and a musical instrument called Glass Armonia. He had developed an interest in electricity and he started to study different dimensions of electricity in 1750’s. One of his experiment to investigate the nature of electricity and lightning resulted in a worldwide fame for him.
I would like to conclude my discussion by saying that Benjamin Franklin is a great person to follow for his diverse set of activities and his passion and commitment to whatever he loved to do. He was keen to understand new things in all walks of life be it politics, social work, business or science. In my opinion, his name will always be remembered not only in American history but also the world history.
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