At this point, it would probably be fair to describe Elon Musk as one of the most successful entrepreneurs on Earth and in today’s business world. Musk made history again recently, successfully launching SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket and sending his cherry-red Tesla Roadster up into space.
An entrepreneur can be simply defined as “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”. What they do with this is where the true magic is.
The First Business: Zip2
Musk and his brother Kimbal started Zip2 with a $28,000 investment from their father in 1995. Zip2 was a web startup that provided city travel guides to newspapers like New York Times and Chicago Tribune. Musk was out with the Board over the CEO’s role as he sold the company to Compaq for $307 million of which Musk received $22 million.
The Breakthrough Success: Paypal
Musk’s first monumental success was PayPal, reshaping the banking industry and the online payment landscape, which he officially launched in 2001 after an intense two-year business reengineering process involving X.com and Confinity. Long story short, PayPal was acquired by eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion, and Musk received $165 million.
The Take Off: SpaceX
“Space is hard” goes a favourite saying of rocket scientists and the SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Musk has plans and visions for space, building lunar bases and going to Mars. In 2002, he launched SpaceX to shake up the space industry.
The Legacy Project: Tesla
In 2003, Musk co-founded Tesla Motors (now Tesla Inc.), the world-famous automaker that turned electric cars from ecologically-friendly machines into luxurious, sleek roadsters. Tesla teetered close to bankruptcy in 2013 but powered through the rough patch and won back public trust.
Musk has said, "I think it's very difficult to start companies, it's quite painful. A friend of mine has a good phrase for doing a startup: it's like eating glass and staring into the abyss. If you are wired to do it, then only do it, not otherwise. So think of it this way - if you need inspiring words, DON'T DO IT!”
What Advice Does Elon Musk Have For Entrepreneurs?
#1 Trust Your Ideas
Elon Musk’s first startup Zip2 was about web listings like Yelp. Noone was convinced to share shop listings as the Internet was not common back in those days. Musk and his brother believed in their ideas, built it and ultimately sold it to Compaq for $307 million.
#2 Keep the Bigger Picture in Mind
Musk has set his eyes on Mars and he is fully focused on realising his vision. All his efforts are directed into creating a future that inspires and appeals. He has a dedicated team of employees and peers. He himself works 100 hours per week which you could say is proof of a ‘passionate obsession’.
#3 Put Your Heart and Soul Into It
For every budding entrepreneur wishing to make it big, they must first put everything into their vision, believe in the project before anyone else does and love the brand before anyone else starts to. Musk already made tremendous success in 2008 when he launched the first SpaceX rocket the Falcon 1 and sold its first car the Tesla Roadster.
#4 Challenge the Status Quo
“Other advice I would give is not to blindly follow trends. Question and challenge the status quo”, says Musk. Musk has an extraordinary ability to think big and challenge the norm and status quo. This has led him to some remarkable achievements.
#5 Don’t Let Failure Defeat You
Musk does have several failed attempts. The first three launches at SpaceX were failures, and the Tesla Roadster took three years to become financially viable. If you want to achieve success as an entrepreneur, you must have the never-give-up attitude.