As you read this you may be getting ready to spend time celebrating Independence Day. If you are or have ever been an entrepreneur, you owe a debt of gratitude to the events that this day commemorates and the people that made it happen. Solemnity and action come to my mind when July 4th arrives. The American founders mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor as they embarked on what you could regard as a very high stakes, almost sacrificial entrepreneurial endeavor when 56 of them signed the document declaring independence. Action, concentrated on the war, followed. The outcome for many of the signers was death, prosecution, torture, bankruptcy and poverty. Fortunately for us, the entrepreneurial project succeeded, and for well over two centuries, correcting flaws along the way. It may not necessarily have been straight paths all the time, but the project flourished with the freedom impetus to create a country that others can emulate.
Solemnity and action sounds like a good plan for entrepreneurs to focus on. When they start businesses, they do it to improve their condition. In many cases, this means the condition not only of themselves, but of the people they need to take care of, the people they hold dear. When an individual works to accomplish this, he or she engages in a solemn act of sacrifice. The betterment of their familial unit depends on it, so the action they take needs to be worthwhile, fruitful. Time not spent wisely on this is lost forever.
The founders meant to disseminate this good plan to the population in its currency. The “Fugio” cent is the first one-cent piece officially authorized as currency in the US in 1787, while the country was still under the Articles of Confederation. The design is attributed to or inspired by the works of Benjamin Franklin. Rebus puzzles, where words are represented by combinations of letters and pictures, were popular in those days. They entertained people and made them think. The design of the obverse of the coin has the word “FUGIO” (Latin for “I flee”), next to the picture of the sun shining on top of a sundial (representing time), and in the bottom the inscription “MIND YOUR BUSINESS”. The meaning of the design, in today’s words, would be something like “Get busy with your business because time is flying”. Business, in those days, did not necessarily mean “work”, as in the actions you take to make a living. It could also mean your daily business of social, family and work life, your overall daily endeavor. To me, the design was meant to remind the holder of the coin to act, and do it in a worthwhile fashion, because time flies. If they did this in fruitful ways, they would soon be holding another one of these cents, and then another, and their daily sacrifice would have paid off. The reverse of the coin shows the inscription “WE ARE ONE” in the center, surrounded by a circle with the words “UNITED STATES” around it, itself surrounded by a chain of 13 links, representing the States at the time.
I can picture the holder of the coin, having deciphered the call to action on the obverse of it (get busy, time flies), flipping it around and discovering the solemnity that this action needs to attach to. Act. Do it yourself, but do it for those you need to take care of. Mutually pledge your work and endeavor to each other among your familial and societal circles. Be the pebble in the middle of the lake that creates the initial wave and lifts the next ripple surrounding you. That ripple expands and lifts the next circle. With more ripples coming out of the common center, prosperity flourishes in your larger social circle. Eventually society at large benefits as many circles collide with each other and the wave action gets intense and disperses in all directions.
Each circle starts with one person, in your case, with you. It is you, that “one” in the middle, that impacts “we” (us), because in essence, as the inscription at the center reads, WE ARE ONE.