The underlying, essential element of success in business affairs is to follow the established laws of high-class dealing. Keep to broad and sure lines, and study them to be certain that they are correct ones. Watch the natural operations of trade, and keep within them. Don’t even think of temporary or sharp advantages. Don’t waste your effort on a thing which ends in a petty triumph unless you are satisfied with a life of petty success. Be sure that before you go into an enterprise you see your way clear to stay through to a successful end. Look ahead. It is surprising how many bright business men go into important undertakings with little or no study of the controlling conditions they risk their all upon.
Study diligently your capital requirements, and fortify yourself fully to cover possible set-backs, because you can absolutely count on meeting set-backs. Be sure that you are not deceiving yourself at any time about actual conditions. The man who starts out simply with the idea of getting rich won’t succeed; you must have a larger ambition. There is no mystery in business success. The great industrial leaders have told again and again the plain and obvious fact that there can be no permanent success without fair dealing that leads to wide-spread confidence in the man himself, and that is the real capital we all prize and work for. If you do each day’s task successfully, and stay faithfully within these natural operations of commercial laws which I talk so much about, and keep your head clear, you will come out all right, and will then, perhaps, forgive me for moralizing in this old-fashioned way. It is hardly necessary to caution a young man who reads so sober a book as this not to lose his head over a little success, or to grow impatient or discouraged by a little failure.
I had desired to retire from business in the early nineties. Having begun work so young, I felt that at fifty it was due me to have freedom from absorption in active business affairs and to devote myself to a variety of interests other than money making, which had claimed a portion of my time since the beginning of my business career. But 1891-92 were years of ominous outlook. In 1893 the storm broke, and I had many investments to care for, as I have already related. This year and the next was a trying period of grave anxiety to everyone. No one could retire from work at such a time. In the Standard we continued to make progress even through all these panic years, as we had large reserves of cash on account of our very conservative methods of financing. In 1894 or 1895 I was able to carry out my plans to be relieved from any association with the actual management of the company’s affairs. From that time, as I have said, I have had little or no part in the conduct of the business.