Advice on Business from 1860

Friday, August 2, 2013

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THE GENTLEMEN’S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE, AND MANUAL OF POLITENESS

This section is quoted from an English Lawyer.
Good advice actually.
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.
KJ

A celebrated English lawyer gives the following directions for young men entering into business. He says:—
Select the kind of business that suits your natural inclinations and temperament.—Some men are naturally mechanics; others have a strong aversion to anything like machinery, and so on; one man has a natural taste for one occupation in life, and another for another.

“I never could succeed as a merchant. I have tried it, unsuccessfully, several times. I never could be content with a fixed salary, for mine is a purely speculative disposition, while others are just the reverse; and therefore all should be careful to select those occupations that suit them best.

Let your pledged word ever be sacred.—Never promise to do a thing without performing it with the most rigid promptness. Nothing is more valuable to a man in business than the name of always doing as he agrees, and that to the moment. A strict adherence to this rule gives a man the command of half the spare funds within the range of his acquaintance, and encircles him with a host of friends, who may be depended upon in any emergency.

Whatever you do, do with all your might.—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 just as well be done 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 his business. Ambition, energy, industry, and perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in business.

Sobriety. Use no description of intoxicating drinks.—As no man can succeed in business unless he has a brain to enable him to lay his plans, and reason to guide him in their execution, so, no matter how bountifully a man may be blessed with intelligence, if his brain is muddled, and his judgment warped by intoxicating drinks, it is impossible for him to carry on business successfully. How many good opportunities have passed never to return, while a man was sipping a ‘social glass’ with a friend! How many a foolish bargain has been made under the influence of the wine-cup, which temporarily makes his victim so rich! How many important chances have been put off until to-morrow, and thence for ever, because indulgence has thrown the system into a state of lassitude, neutralizing the energies so essential to success in business. The use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage is as much an infatuation as is the smoking of opium by the Chinese, and the former is quite as destructive to the success of the business man as the latter.

Let hope predominate, but be not too visionary.—Many persons are always kept poor because they are too visionary. Every project looks to them like certain success, and, therefore, they keep changing from one business to another, always in hot water, and always ‘under the harrow.’ The plan of ‘counting the chickens before they are hatched,’ is an error of ancient date, but it does not seem to improve by age.

Do not scatter your powers.—Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until you conclude to abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man’s undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will continually be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain were occupied by a dozen different subjects at once. Many a fortune has slipped through men’s fingers by engaging in too many occupations at once.

Engage proper employees.—Never employ a man of bad habits when one whose habits are good can be found to fill his situation. I have generally been extremely fortunate in having faithful and competent persons to fill the responsible situations in my business; and a man can scarcely be too grateful for such a blessing. When you find a man unfit to fill his station, either from incapacity or peculiarity of character or disposition, dispense with his services, and do not drag out a miserable existence in the vain attempt to change his nature. It is utterly impossible to do so, ‘You cannot make a silk purse,’ &c. He has been created for some other sphere; let him find and fill it.”

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