Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now.

The old proverb is full of truth and meaning,

Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.

Many a man acquires a fortune by doing his business thoroughly, while his neighbor remains poor for life because he only half does it. Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in business.

Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself. It won’t do to spend your time like Mr. Micawber, in waiting for something to “turn up.” To such men one of two things usually “turns up:” the poorhouse or the jail; for idleness breeds bad habits, and clothes a man in rags. The poor spendthrift vagabond says to a rich man:

“I have discovered there is enough money in the world for all of us, if it was equally divided; this must be done, and we shall all be happy together.”

“But,” was the response, “if everybody was like you, it would be spent in two months, and what would you do then?”

“Oh! divide again; keep dividing, of course!”

I was recently reading in a London paper an account of a like thoughtful beggar who was kicked out of a cheap boarding-house because he could not pay his bill, but he had a roll of papers sticking out of his coat pocket, which, upon examination, proved to be his plan for paying off the national debt of England without the aid of a penny. People have got to do as Cromwell said: “not only trust in Providence but keep the powder dry.” Do your part of the work, or you cannot succeed. Mahomet, one night, while encamping in the desert, overheard one of his fatigued followers’ remarks:

“I will lose my camel, and trust it to God!”

“No, no, not so,” said the prophet, “tie thy camel, and trust it to God!”

Do all you can for yourselves, and then trust to Providence, or luck, or whatever you please to call it, for the rest.

DEPEND UPON YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXERTIONS.

The eye of the employer is often worth more than the hands of a dozen employees.

In the nature of things, an agent cannot be so faithful to his employer as to himself. Many who are employers will call to mind instances where the best employees have overlooked important points which could not have escaped their own observation as a proprietor. 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.

A man may be a manufacturer: he has got to learn the many details of his business personally; he will learn something every day, and he will find he will make mistakes nearly every day. And these very mistakes help to him in the way of experiences if he but heeds them. He will be like the Yankee tin-peddler, who, having been cheated as to quality in the purchase of his merchandise, said: “All right, there’s a little information to be gained every day; I will never be cheated in that way again.” Thus a man buys his experience, and it is the best kind if not purchased at too dear a rate.

The possession of perfect knowledge of your business is an absolute necessity in order to ensure success.

Among the sayings of the elder Rothschild was one, all apparent paradox:

“Be cautious and bold.”

This seems to be a contradiction in terms, but it is not, and there is great wisdom in the aphorism. It is, in fact, a condensed statement of what I have already said. It is to say;

“you must exercise your caution in laying your plans, but be bold in carrying them out.”

A man who is all caution will never dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness is merely reckless, and must eventually fail. A man may go on “‘change” and make fifty, or one hundred thousand dollars in speculating in stocks, at a single operation. But if he has simple boldness without caution, it is a mere chance, and what he gains today he will lose tomorrow. You must have both the caution and the boldness, to ensure success.

There is no such thing in the world as luck.

There never was a man who could go out in the morning and find a purse full of gold in the street today, and another tomorrow, and so on, day after day: He may do so once in his life; but so far as mere luck is concerned, he is as liable to lose it as to find it. “Like causes produce like effects.” If a man adopts the proper methods to be successful, “luck” will not prevent him. If he does not succeed, there are reasons for it, although, perhaps, he may not be able to see them.


The Art of Money Getting or, Golden Rules for Making Money was published in 1880 by P. T. Barnum (The Greatest Showman). Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, politician, and businessman and for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus (1871–2017). The Art of Money Getting, by P. T. Barnum publication, is under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License