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Four Lessons from American History for Your Business

By Brian Hamilton, chairman of Sageworks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Independence Day is a good time to remember that American history is full of valuable lessons for business owners. Whether you're ready to set out and start your own business or trying to make your current enterprise grow, consider these four pointers from history:

1. Don't expect favors.

We know Benjamin Franklin as a member of the Continental Congress, a minister to France, and one of the most influential political figures in American history. But it's important to remember that, at one point, he was a 17-year-old runaway looking to start a new life in Philadelphia.

Franklin, the quintessential "self-made" man, built a life for himself from nothing. The idea of the "self-made man/woman," can be a powerful lesson in starting and growing your business.

In this day and age, it's commonplace to be another guy with a great idea. What separates you from the rest is your ability to take chances and pull yourself up by your bootstraps, without expecting an outside boost. The first step in starting a great company is determining how you can create a great product or service and a great plan with what you have. You can build from there. Start small and dream big.

2. It's OK to be wrong.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Hamilton and Jefferson had deeply divergent views regarding the role of the federal government and the future of the American political system. In the end, they both compromised, coming together to find solutions for the greater good.

In order to run a successful business (and a successful life, for that matter), we all must waver on certain issues. Remember that you always won't agree with your co-workers. But hopefully, if you've found your business soul mate and surrounded yourself with A-players, your colleagues will also have the company's best interests in mind. As hard as it may seem, be willing to part with your idea if it isn't as strong as someone else's.

3. Know when to retreat.

Colonel Custer and his troops, facing inevitable defeat, refused to surrender in the battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. Their perseverance and brave attitude in the face of defeat was admirable, but at times, there's something to be said about recognizing one's own limitations. Sometimes, we need to know when to retreat.

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