Entrepreneur Profile: Ben Franklin

franklinWithout a doubt one of my greatest heroes is Benjamin Franklin, and the more I learn about him the more I find myself enamored with his brilliant legacy. Benjamin Franklin had many great achievements in his lifetime, a founding Father of the United States, statesmen, patriot, writer, publisher, diplomat, innovator, inventor, but at his center he will always be an entrepreneur. After Googling the word “entrepreneur” hoping to find a definition to help argue my point, I found that no two online dictionaries held the same definition of an entrepreneur, but all the sources echoed a description to this effect, “an entrepreneur is someone who is able and willing to pursue an opportunity in a new venture and assumes the responsibilities of the venture regardless of the associated risks”. Franklin was a man who never stopped pursuing new opportunities, and exploring new ideas where he believed there would be value.

Franklin started his career as an entrepreneur when he ran away from his brother’s newspaper and came to Philadelphia where he acquired funding to start his own newspaper the Pennsylvania Gazette (later renamed The Saturday Evening Post). While working on expanding his print business Franklin also found himself tinkering with different ideas for inventions. Franklin would go on to develop the first lighting rod, the Franklin stove, bifocals, swim fins, the glass harmonica, as well as map The Gulf Stream current. Arguable the greatest one of Franklin’s discoveries came from his work with electricity, and although he did not invent electricity, Franklin did develop the most fundamental understanding of positive and negative charges and it is this discovery that still lights the world today.

Franklin’s entrepreneurial spirit went beyond just developing products but also extended into creating services and societies to help serve the public good. Franklin launched the first American Library Company in 1731 (a subscription book service), Philadelphia’s Union Fire Company in 1736, the American Philosophical Society in 1743, and Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751. Benjamin Franklin had an incredible career accomplishing more than most men hope to ever achieve. The spirit of his entrepreneurial enterprise and dedication to his country has been honored as one of only two American figure heads that have been printed on U.S. currency. Any entrepreneur today who looks down at a U.S. hundred dollar bill is reminded by the face of one of the greatest American entrepreneurs to ever live, Benjamin Franklin.

For more information on Benjamin Franklin, visit http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/info/index.htm.