Lessons from P. T. Barnum on the art of money getting
P. T. Barnum, the great American showman of the 19th century, wrote this short book about making and keeping money. He certainly had life experiences that qualify him for the subject--he started a small newspaper in his twenties, bought and transformed a museum into a showplace for curiosities, built a circus empire that gave performances in America and Europe, promoted a performing tour of a singer, fell into debt in the 1850s and pulled himself out by lecture tours, was a mayor, and founded a hospital.
His key idea is those who really desire to attain an independence, have only to set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means. Making money is easier than keeping it. One must live true economy - always making the income exceed the out-go.
The foundation of success in life is good health, and that is the substratum of fortune. Without good health we do not have force, ambition and energy to dream, to work. We concern more about our health than about making money. Good health is also the basis of happiness.
Good health means we need clear brain to think, to reason and make sound judgement. To succeed in business, we need to make good plan, reflect on it and closely examine all the details, the ins and outs of the business to guide us in business execution. Only those with clear brain can do it successfully.
To gain wealth, one must live a true economy life, control the expenses below the income. It is a common knowledge to live within our mean, but in reality, many of us try to show off and live extravagant life, spend more than we earn. Over time, this habit leads us into trouble, debt and financial bankrupt.
Another important factor leads to wealth is choosing the right vocation. Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed. I am glad to believe that the majority of persons do find their right vocation. Yet we see many who have mistaken their calling.
One must avoid bad debt. Good debt is a leverage to build wealth, bad debt is not: bad debt works against you all the time, day and night, wet or dry, bad or good weather. You get worse over time because money is the terrible master. When you are in debt, you pay interest increasingly all time. Let money your servant for it works faithfully to serve you, bringing in money for you constantly. Only get into debt for good reasons, for instance to seek profit from debt. In modern time we call debt as leverage to make profit – this is good debt. For instance, we borrow money from banks or investors to invest in business, buying assets and then sell to make more money which can be used to pay back the debt and earn the extra.
Persevere when you are on the right path. Goes into battle with a will and unwavering determination to succeed doing what you want to do. If you hesitate, others with bolder hands will stretch out before you and take the prize. A proverb of Solomon said “he become poor that deal with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent make rich.”
Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it early and late, all the time, not leaving a stone unturned, and never defering for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. Work as the old proverb said “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” You acquire a fortune by doing business thoroughly. Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance are indispensable requisites for success in business. Fortune always favors the brave those who help themselves. You must do your part of the work, or you cannot succeed. Do all you can for yourselves and trust the rest to God.
Take charge of your life and depend upon your own personal exertions. There is no such thing in the world as luck. You may be lucky once, but that never going to happen again and again and again. Success in life need both caution and boldness. You must be cautious when you make your plans, and then execute them with boldness. A man who is always cautious will never dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness is merely reckless and must eventually fail.
Know your business well. No man has a right to expect to succeed in life unless he understands his business, and nobody can understand his business thoroughly unless he learns it by personal application and experience. You must learn many details of the business personally, learn something every day and you may find that you make mistakes every day and these mistakes help you in the way of experiences, gradually help you learn thoroughly your business. The mistakes are the price you pay to learn. The possession of a perfect knowledge of your business is an absolute necessity in order to ensure success. The Rothschild has a maxim “Be cautions and bold” and “Never have anything to do with an unlucky man or place.” If one does try this and that thing and always fails, it is on account of some fault or infirmity that you may not be able to discover but nevertheless which must exist. If you do not succeed, there are reasons for it, although, perhaps, you may not be able to see them. “Like causes produce like effects.” Use proper methods to be successful.
Use the best tools. You cannot have too good tools to work with and there is no tool you should be so particular aabout as living tools. If you find the best people, keep them working for you. Those who can think and work with great experience are the best. You must treat them fairly, otherwise they will part. Some good employees think they are too valuable to be replaced and demand an exorbitant increase of salary, let them go.
Start small and advance gradually. One only learns the value of money by effort. It was more difficult to accumulate the first thousand dollars than all the succeeding millions that made up the colossal fortune. Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by experience. Nothing is worth anything unless it cost effort. Economy, patience, perseverance, industry, determined wills and good habits will lead to fortune. There is no royal road to learning and there is not royal road to wealth. The only road worth traveling is learning day in and day out, expanding your intellect until you can solve profound problems, counting all atoms and stars in the universe.
In regard to wealth, go on in confidence, study the rules, and above all things, study human nature; for the proper study of mankind is man and you will find that while expanding the intellect and the muscles, your enlarged experience will enable you every day to accumulate more and more principla, which will increase itself by interest and you arrive at a state of independence.
Growing up in rich family is risky if you do not learn the value of money by effort. Rich kids enjoy all the luxuries in the world, cajoled and caressed and praised as glorious good fellow. Rich kids are lavish with their family wealth and acquire all sorts of bad habits, and ruin them in health, purse and characters.
Excel in your line of business. The great ambition should be excel all others engaged in the same occupation. When you do your business as substantially and thoroughly as you should, you excel all others in your own business line with good habits, undoubted integrity, you cannot fail to secure abundant patronage, and the wealth that naturallly follows. Let your motto then always be “Excelsior,” and living up to it, there is no such word as fail.