If you want to learn how to grow your business, learning from one of the greatest showmen in history is certainly a good place to start. P.T. Barnum is still a household name, even though his famous circuses are no longer so popular with audiences. While Barnum is most famous for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the entrepreneur dabbled with running a newspaper and museum, among other things.
In 1880, Barnum published “The Art of Money-Getting or Golden Rules for Making Money,” and to this day, many of the insights remain helpful. For one, Barnum recommends that whatever you do, make sure you do it with all of your might. Many markets are crowded and if you put in only a half-hearted effort, you’re only going to get half-hearted results.
Given his own eclectic career pursuits, you might think that Barnum would champion throwing lots of things at the wall and seeing what sticks. In practice, however, he urged focus, stating “Many a fortune has slipped through a man’s fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time.”
Barnum also urged entrepreneurs to follow developing events. In his day, that meant reading the newspaper. Today, many folks prefer podcasts and visiting news websites. But the medium doesn’t matter — the content does. By staying abreast of developments, entrepreneurs are in a better position to tap into opportunities and mitigate threats.
P.T. Barnum passed away in 1891, but the Barnum and Bailey Circus lived on, bought out by Ringling Bros. Circus in 1907. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shut its doors in 2017, following declining ticket sales and animal rights protests. However, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is set to return in 2023. This time around, animals won’t be used in the acts.