Earlier today Kottke published a great list on P.T. Barnum’s 20 rules for making money from the book The Art of Money Getting published in 1880. Every entrepreneur would do well to study and follow these 20 rules:
- Don’t mistake your vocation
- Select the right location
- Avoid debt
- Whatever you do, do it with all your might
- Depend upon your own personal exertions
- Use the best tools
- Don’t get above your business
- Learn something useful
- Let hope predominate but be not too visionary
- Do not scatter your powers
- Be systematic
- Read the newspapers
- Beware of “outside operations”
- Don’t endorse without security
- Advertise your business
- Be polite and kind to your customers
- Be charitable
- Don’t blab
- Preserve your integrity
While a few aren’t applicable to tech startups, almost all of them are still relevant and useful 130+ years later.
What else? Which one of the P.T. Barnum’s rules is your favorite?
4 thoughts on “P.T. Barnum’s 20 Rules for Making Money”
I think Jason Kottke and I were both inspired to blog about Barnum’s book by a recent post on the news.ycombinator.com site. I wrote a slightly longer version that excerpted a key paragraph about each rule and explored how each was still applicable to an entrepreneur today. See http://www.skmurphy.com/blog/2016/03/19/p-t-barnums-golden-rules-for-making-money/ there are actually 21 rules if you example the introductory material you see another one that’s not numbered but suggests that personal expense control diligently applied is the starting point for entrepreneurship.
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visionary in that regard
They are all so true! I particularly like “do not scatter your powers”. It’s a trap many people fall into. Here’s my version of that, and the advice I give to myself and my team: Pick three things that you are going to do REALLY WELL, then do all the other stuff that has to be done in the rest of the time you have. This applies to your plan for the year, the quarter and the day.
Good stuff David…it inspired me to take a dive into one the quotes most often attributed to P.T., “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” I was surprised to find this often quoted phrase has roots here in Atlanta. See http://arketi.com/blog/archives/8912 for, “the rest of the story”