Entrepreneurial freedom has always been, and will forever be intertwined with the American heritage; on this 4th of July, 2014 as we celebrate our Independence - I would like to take special note of those who have paved the way for not only our freedom, but the entrepreneurial freedom we enjoy in these United States of America.
Think about the legacy left by Benjamin Franklin, one of the greatest historical figures in our nations history. He was one of its first, and most important early leaders, a man who helped to build, and who was admired throughout the new country.
We often think of Franklin as a politician and diplomat, which he was. However, he was not only a great entrepreneur, he was also America's first entrepreneur millionaire. He was a master of all things business, commerce, and finance. He was a populist, statesman and an accomplished writer.
Franklin was an entrepreneur like no other, and a staunch believer in a strong work ethic. He lived by the belief that "Laziness trends so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes it."
Franklin was the youngest son of 17 children. His father was a poor candle maker. He simply couldn't afford to supply his youngest son with opportunities early in life. So, Franklin decided that it was up to him to make his own way in the world.
Unfortunately, things didn't come easy for young Ben. First, he spent five unhappy years toiling as a printing apprentice for his older brother, James.
From these humble beginnings, Franklin would go on to make his millions just like 80% of those that came after him - by starting and building his own business.
He was the first media mogul of the fledging nation, running the most successful newspaper, having the top-selling magazine and book--Poor Richard's Almanac. He also originated the "franchise" idea, turning his printing press into a large business.
If we look at this story of Benjamin Franklin, and the path to entrepreneurial freedom he forged - we can see very clearly that many have followed in his footsteps.
Consider some of the great American entrepreneurs of the later 20th and early 21st centuries. Like Franklin, they made their money by making a difference in the world and being true change-agents. Because of their contributions, not just the United States of America, but the world is a better place. Their efforts have uplifted humanity and made a difference that mattered.
Steve Jobs, the adopted son of Paul Jobs, mechanic and carpenter, and Clara Jobs who was an accountant that coincidentally worked at one of the earliest tech-firms in what would eventually be known as Silicon Valley followed a path very similar to that of Franklin's.
In 1976, in his parent's garage, Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer; the company endured its hardships, including the board of directors ousting Jobs from his position in 1985. Jobs held fast to his purpose, and eventually rejoined Apple as they continued to grow and pioneer the world personal computers and electronics.
Born into poverty to a housemaid mother in rural Mississippi, Oprah Winfrey became a millionaire at the age of 32 when her television talk-show received national syndication.
She was no stranger to hardship, but her grandmother, Hattie Mae, has said that Oprah has been drawn to the stage since her first words. She worked her way into a position as a local news anchor, and transitioned into the role of host for a low-rated half-hour morning talk show in Chicago.
It wasn't a matter of months before her show took over in the ratings department, and from there she only climbed higher. Oprah has been named among the most influential and powerful women in the world, and in 2014 she filled the role of 'richest self-made woman in America'.
Sheryl Sandberg, who was born into a well-educated family in Washington DC would follow her passion through the Harvard School of Business, and eventually on to the position of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google.
Sandberg's journey of intrapreneurship eventually landed her at Facebook, in the role of COO; her job at the organization was to make the network profitable - which she did. From there she went on to write "Lean In" her first book, which is designed to help women achieve their goals. As an entrepreneur / author, she has sold over 1,000,000 books and inspired the lives of countless others.
Jeff Bezos, born to a teenage mother, spent his early years on a cattle ranch in Texas; they would eventually move to Miami where Bezos participated in the Student Science Training Program.
After discovering his love for computers, Bezos attended Princeton University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in electrical engineering and computer science.
On a road trip to Seattle in 1994, fueled by a ruling that by the Supreme Court - that online retailers would not have to collect sales tax, Bezos wrote the business plan for Amazon. This venture had exploded by 2011, and added some 6.5 billion dollars to Bezos net worth and hundreds of billions in commerce throughout the world.
Like many entrepreneurs, most of these entrepreneurs either started from humble beginnings or added significant value to customers and the world by taking their skills and applying them to build businesses and add to commerce.
As we celebrate our nations independence this year - let's remember that Entrepreneurial Freedom is forever intertwined with who we are as a country, and the people who have forged ahead to make great strides.
Moreover, the entrepreneurial promise of being able to move up the ladder of achievement and reach greater financial success - through personal work, drive, and dedication to doing something that is both worthwhile and adds commercial value to others is at the heart of the American dream.
At my company, Conscious Millionaire, we celebrate, encourage, and support entrepreneurs from start-up to highly successful in moving forward to build profitable companies that truly matter, ones that contribute to the world and uplift humanity.
J V Crum III is the founder of ConsciousMillionaire.com; as a business coach and speaker, he is sought after for his unique ability to help entrepreneurs and executives integrate their strengths and passions into a well-defined strategy for creating high profits and making a big difference in the world. J V holds an MBA, JD and a MS in Psychology; his best-selling book, "Conscious Millionaire: Grow Your Business by Making a Difference" is available now: http://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Millionaire-Business-Making-Difference/dp/0976719223/ref=tmm_pap_title_0