The Benevolence of Benjamin Franklin
Many consider Benjamin Franklin the most prominent and important personality to make a mark by making notable improvements in the American society’s way of life. Yet, Franklin never sought the protection of U.S. patents over his inventions, since Franklin maintained that his ideas were born out of his personal desire to be of service to others; thus, everyone should freely benefit from the advantages that they brought.
Prior to his fame as the inventor of the bifocals and lightning rod and later as a highly respected statesman, Benjamin Franklin’s early beginnings were his entrepreneurial ventures as a printer and publisher. His contributions to commerce include but are not limited to the following:
Basic Franchising Concept
Aside from his widely read “Pennsylvania Gazette" and “Poor Richard’s Almanac", he understood the value of networking and getting connected in order to win lucrative printing jobs. One of Franklin’s notable contributions to entrepreneurship was the idea of franchising. He saw the opportunity of expanding his printing business to other cities by providing his trusted apprentices with seed capital, and at the same time, he helped them set up their own printing businesses. In return, these apprentices paid Franklin back from the profits they earned during the first six years of operations. This business strategy contributed to the flourishing of the printing and publishing trade.
The Odometer and the Mail Order Catalogue
In later years, Franklin became deputy postmaster of Pennsylvania. It was during those years when he invented the “odometer," which he attached to his carriage to measure routes and to keep track of distance. This was how he was able to figure out routes that shortened delivery time, thus improving the efficiency of the mailing system. It was also during his stint as postmaster that he conceptualized home delivery and pioneered the first mail order catalogue.
The Furnace Stove, the Lightning Rod and Fire Insurance Company
The Franklin (furnace) stove presented households with a safer method of keeping warm as an alternative to the burning of wood in a fireplace. Moreover, he established the first fire insurance company as a way of providing assistance to those who would suffer from the misfortune of losing their homes to fire accidents. The lightning rod was likewise conceptualized to protect homes, barns, buildings and ships from the damages caused by lightning strikes.