Ben Franklin’s Real Way to Wealth – Part I Industry

Anyone who has tried to find financial advice on the web has encountered nothing but scams. “Invest with me, buy this book, use my AdSense secrets, and you will be making easy money in no time.” It is all garbage. Those who want solid advice to live by would be well served to consult The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin. In a few paragraphs Franklin wittily transmits the wisdom the made him a fortune and one of America’s greatest fathers. Beware: there are no secrets or short cuts, only common sense.

Franklin wrote the Way to Wealth as a speech given by a wise old man to the townspeople. The focus of the first section is the virtue of Industry

  1. Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise
  2. Diligence is the mother of good luck
  3. God helps them that help themselves

We have all heard these familiar sayings, but how often do we neglect to live by them? Rising early, using time wisely, and getting to bed at a decent hour is the first step to building wealth. It puts you in the position to succeed.

Franklin also condemns laziness as the cause of many failures.

  1. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright
  2. Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of
  3. Lost time is never found again
  4. He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night
  5. Drive thy business, let not that drive thee
  6. Industry need not wish
  7. He that lives upon hope will die fasting
  8. There are no gains, without pains
  9. Plough deep, while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep
  10. One today is worth two tomorrows
  11. Have you somewhat to do tomorrow, do it today
  12. Be ashamed to catch yourself idle
  13. Let not the sun look down and say, inglorious here he lies

How often do we waste time complaining about a lack of opportunity? The reason you find no opportunity is that you waste time you should be using to build. The more we are idle the rustier we get. Laziness makes taking action more difficult. Through industriousness you create opportunities.

  1. He that hath a trade hath an estate
  2. He that hath a calling hath an office of profit and honor

Here Franklin states that you need to develop a specialization that is valuable to others. A specialization provides a permanent source of income. No one is going to give you money. You need to give people value in exchange for it.

  1. At the working man’s house hunger looks in, but dares not enter
  2. For industry pays debts, while despair encreaseth them
  3. Constant dropping wears away stones
  4. By diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable
  5. Little strokes fell great oaks

Don’t be discouraged by the size of a task. Don’t make excuses because something looks difficult. Great accomplishments are built in tiny increments. You need to remember that the work you do builds up over time. People are often discouraged because they don’t achieve instant success. It is important to think of your work as a long-term investment. This will help you stay motivated during the painful early stages. Remember that most successful people toil for years in obscurity before reaching the tipping point when their hard work starts to pay dividends.

  1. Employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure
  2. Since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour
  3. A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. Do you imagine that sloth will afford you more comfort than labor?
  4. Trouble springs from idleness, and grievous toil from needless ease.
  5. Many without labor would live by their wits only, but they break for want of stock
  6. Industry gives comfort, and plenty, and respect: fly pleasures, and they’ll follow you

Many people don’t like to work, especially if they have boring jobs. Everyone wants to live a life of leisure so we work as little as we have to. This is understandable; everyone prefers leisure to work. In truth, this is an extremely shortsighted attitude. Who do you think has the time play golf during the week or the flexibility to travel abroad? It is the people who worked hard, became successful, and are now reaping the benefits of wealth and leisure. You need to work hard now to gain leisure later. If you are lazy now you will miss out on leisure in the long run.

  1. Keep the shop, and thy shop will keep thee
  2. If you would have your business done, go; if not, send
  3. He that by the plough would thrive, Himself must either hold or drive.
  4. The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands
  5. Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge
  6. Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open
  7. In the affairs of this world men are saved not by faith, but by the want of it
  8. Learning is to the studious, and riches to the careful, as well as power to the bold, and Heaven to the virtuous
  9. If you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself
  10. For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost, and for want of a horse the rider was lost

The point of these maxims is that working hard alone is not enough. You must also keep your business inline with care and attention. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste for a lack of organization. Don’t take anything for granted because small problems are the root of failure.

I cannot state with another emphasis how important these ideas are. Most people will recognize that this is nothing new and ignore it. These ideas aren’t complicated. The challenge is to live by them. If you try being truly industrious for one complete day you will understand what I mean.

The first half of becoming wealthy is Industry: working hard, using time wisely, and paying careful attention to your business. Industry generates revenue. The next step is turning revenue into profit. The second part of Franklin’s Way to Wealth explains the importance of saving what you gain.

Buy Franklin’s Way to Wealth on Amazon

Ben Franklin’s Real Way to Wealth – Part II Frugality

Ben Franklin’s Real Way to Wealth – Part III Conclusion

22 Responses to Ben Franklin’s Real Way to Wealth – Part I Industry

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  2. penny says:

    Franklin was the largest publisher of pornography in the colonies–which is how he got rich. Later, he was well connected through his membership in the Dasherwood Satanic Sex Cult aka Hellfire
    Society with the British Royals and Aristos.
    He didn’t get rich by following or publishing homilies.

  3. John Wesley says:

    That’s interesting, I’ve really never heard it before. I’ll have to investigate.

  4. penny says:

    Dear John,

    I love your site, which I found because
    I follow posts of my friend and coauthor
    Ivan Blank at digg.

    There is a good book called ” The Hellfire Club” which I found in the history section of a Barnes and Noble

    I may have found the Franklin porno link
    in ” Lies my Teacher Told Me”, which is a great history book.

    Hard to remember as I read thousands of books a year.

  5. lil evil says:

    penny, you say that as if it were a bad thing.

  6. penny says:

    My main point was that he never credited
    his publication of porno or his connections with the Brit aristos based on the Hellfire club in his “Way to Riches”.

    As to whether it was bad thing:
    As a woman, I believe that porno is
    degrading to women ( if women are in the Porno). Also, the poor country girls who were forced by the rich, powerful aristos in the Hellfire club into acts of sex—and sexual torture–,
    were likely sure it was a bad thing to be involved.

    Sorry, But, that’s my take. Your mileage may differ.

  7. penny says:

    That the Hellfire club practiced Satan
    Worship ( or even fake Satan Worship) is of no importance to me.
    I am very tolerant of non-standard religions.

    But, abuse of power–for sex and torture–that is a different story—-in ANY context.

  8. Ryan says:

    Just because the person conveying the message may be a hypocrite does not automatically make the message itself invalid. Many of our most important figures in history lived secret, dirty lives that went against their messages. However, one cannot forget that, as in any message, the lesson is also a lesson for the conveyor –self-improvement, of course! :)

  9. penny says:

    Dear Ryan,
    Right. But, the support of ” this is how I got rich” is then gone. It is NOT how he got rich. Or at least not the primary way.

  10. John Wesley says:


    You make a good point that “many of our most important figures lived secret, dirty lives”. Does this make their messages invalid? I don’t think so. What is does is show that humans, even great ones, are by nature hypocritical. No matter how much we believe in a great message, there is always another, darker side of us that believes the opposite.

  11. Ryan says:

    Yes, it does show that we may be hypocritical in our daily lives –almost as if, in some cases, it is required to survive! Nonetheless, it also shows that we strive for great good. If we weren’t hypocritical, we would be near perfect, and if we were perfect, we wouldn’t have anything to strive for.

  12. penny says:

    You are in agreement with Goethe—
    recall that Faust is saved from damnation because he “strives”.

    I agree with you.

    But, not everyone strives for good. Some strive for power and material success.

    Some strive mainly for enlightenment.

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  15. Tulsi Niroula 'o.santun' says:




  16. BustaMove says:

    A lot of innuendo and unsubstantiated claims about the over-exagerrated and enigmatic hellfire club. None of the claims have been proven or even a shred of evidence.

  17. driver62 says:

    Do you really not realize how specious your analogy is between cholesteol and the greenhouse effect. ,

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  21. Monica B Tan says:

    You make a good point that “many of our most important figures lived secret, dirty lives”. Does this make their messages invalid? I don’t think so. What is does is show that humans, even great ones, are by nature hypocritical. No matter how much we believe in a great message, there is always another, darker side of us that believes the opposite.

  22. Daniel C. Thompson says:

    So basically his message is “don’t wast time” repeated ad nauseum. Ironic.

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