Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of 17 children. His father was a poor candle-maker. He simply couldn’t afford to supply his youngest son with opportunities early in life. So young Franklin had to make them himself.
He had to make his own way in the world.
First, he spent 5 unhappy years toiling as a printing apprentice for his older brother James. Back in those days, printing was hard work. In fact, Young Benjamin lifted hundreds and hundreds of pounds of printing equipment each and every day.
But Franklin wasn’t happy. His brother was jealous of his talent and intellect so he repressed and scolded Ben constantly. In frustration and despair, Ben Franklin broke the law of the colonies and…
…ran away from his apprenticeship.
He bribed a ship captain to take him to Philadelphia and keep quiet about it. He landed there with 3 shillings in his pocket and rags on his back.
There he established a printing shop of his own…and built his fortune.
Then he retired at 42. And, as they say, the rest is history.
But how did he do it?
He understood that: You’re on your own.
Understanding those simple 5 words helped him build his robust and enjoyable wealth.
You see, Franklin knew he was on his own, so he didn’t invest his money in things he didn’t understand. When Franklin arrived in Philadelphia, the city was ravaged by the South Sea Bubble.
A group of speculators…
…sold stock in a company and hyped it up. The stock prices went soaring until people came to their senses. Many folks lost piles of wealth and bankruptcies throughout the entire British Empire sky-rocketed. Franklin saw this in Philadelphia and he vowed never to simply trust the financial judgment of others.
In fact, the South Sea Bubble was scarily similar to the Tech Bubble. But too few learned their lesson from it.
Ben Franklin didn’t invest in the “hottest” stock or the most popular bonds… instead he built his wealth rapidly by investing in what he knew and understood.
He knew printing very well. So as soon as he saved enough, he opened his own printing shop.
Then, from printing, he invested his money in publishing his own newspaper. The margins were higher.
After the newspaper was gushing profits, Franklin turned to the most popular style of books of the day: Almanacs. Hence, he started printing Poor Richard’s Almanack.
His newspaper and books brought him fame and he used his connections to secure a contract to print the colony’s paper-money.
After that he won the contract to print official documents including court papers and royal proclamations.
All of his business and investing was tied to printing and publishing. Unlike most wealthy colonists, he didn’t follow the “hot stocks” that traded in Paris and London. Instead, he invested in what he knew. And he knew printing.
After he printed and published as much as he could in Philadelphia…
…Franklin opened printing franchises in the other colonies. He would provide capital and expertise, and younger printers would supply the sweat equity.
After he began opening up franchises, then he used his wealth and connections to become the Postmaster. This allowed him to get his newspapers out faster than the competitors and helped him build his core printing business.
Finally, he used his newspapers to sell his various inventions like bifocals and the Franklin stove.
Understand that when you’re trying to build wealth, don’t stray too far from the expert knowledge you’ve already acquired. Invest in what you know. Don’t simply invest in mutual funds or equities your financial planner tells you to invest in. Now you might be saying, “but he’s an expert and I should trust his expertise.” Whatever you gain by consulting his increased knowledge, you lose by not learning how to do it yourself.
That’s why you should build wealth by investing in things you know and understand. Also, that means you’ll know more about those investments than any advisor does anyway.
Think about the business you’re in. You know your industry well. You go to trade shows, you read industry publications and you’ve got a network of contacts that share the gossip with you.
Use that information to analyze investment opportunities in that space and capitalize on the unfair advantage your superior knowledge brings.
Along with that, you should look for weak spots in your industry. Think about what major problems aren’t getting solved. Think about the problems your company and its competitors face. Can you build your own small side company to solve those problems?
Or can you form a consultancy that helps companies solve those problems?
If so, you can quickly create a low-risk business that will ensure you’ll be able to retire with lots of cash flowing in.
Don’t listen to anybody who tells you that you need an “expert” to help you build the retirement of your dreams. Nobody will manage your wealth with more care and attention than you.
Warren Buffett learned this lesson. It’s the key to his investment wealth. He calls it the “circle of competence.” And that circle helped him make a fortune by investing in what he knew and understood: insurance stocks.
Here’s what Buffett said about it:”There’s a whole bunch of things I don’t know a thing about. I just stay away from those. I stay within what I call my circle of competence.”
Buffett understood Ben Franklin’s secret. And it made him a fortune. You can certainly use it to build a healthy and wealthy retirement.
Remember Ben Franklin’s secret…you’re on your own.
Not understanding history cripples you when it comes to building wealth and enjoying life and retirement.
These lessons aren’t taught in school. And they certainly aren’t the kind of stories and lessons the mainstream media and government wants to share with you.
-Source “Early To Rise” – Craig Ballantyne.