Elon Musk is a South African entrepreneur who is renowned for his series of game-changing innovations.
He is the man behind Tesla Motors and has founded several popular companies, including PayPal, The Boring Company, Starlink, SpaceX (which made reusable rockets possible) and Neuralink.
Elon Musk’s entire career is a thought-provoking lesson for emerging entrepreneurs.
He is not just an entrepreneur – he is a visionary leader who has spent all his life following his passion.
He broke traditions to bring revolutionary changes to society.
If you only took a look at his achievements, you’d be surprised at how much you can learn from him.
Here, I have put together the 15 lessons to learn from Elon Musk that’ll get you inspired.
1. Pursue Your Passion
“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.” — Elon Musk
When Elon was eight years old and received his computer, he fell in love with it and started experimenting with programming. During his early life, he created his first travel guide company and realized the potential for building tech products.
From there he started finding new opportunities and eventually became a successful entrepreneur.
Elon Musk’s fervent passion for engineering is the reason he is a pioneer of electric vehicles; inventor of the reusable rocket Falcon 9, and developer of the Starlink satellite internet project. He has shown us that if you love what you do, you can accomplish a great many things.
Pursuing your passion, no doubt is challenging and often the worst career choice.
Studies have proven that if you’re not sure of your interest, there’s a high possibility you’ll terribly fail at your job. Yet, if you follow it right, you can make a fortune in your niche.
2. Take Risks
“If something’s important enough, you should try. Even if – the probable outcome is failure.” — Elon Musk
Did you know the trillion-dollar Tesla Motors was originally a failed project?
Elon Musk took a huge risk when he funded the electric vehicle product line. While the concept of electric cars has been around since the 19th century, no one has managed to continue it for long.
Yes, major car brands like GM and Ford have briefly dabbled in it, but some have either discontinued it or launched a limited number of vehicles. It was Elon Musk’s shrewd business approach and engineering skills that turned the tide in the electric vehicle industry.
He took a chance on Tesla Motors because he sensed the potential for growth, and his gamble eventually paid off. Today, it mass product electronic cars.
The point is a risk often generates high rewards and innovative ideas. If you want to scale your business, you’ll have to come out of your comfort zone at some point and take risks.
3. Build A Vision
“The goal of Tesla is to accelerate sustainable energy, so we’re going to take a step back and think about what’s most likely to achieve that goal.” — Elon Musk
Elon Musk doesn’t just raise companies; he envisions a goal and constructs an enterprise that could likely fulfill his vision.
That’s why his companies often turn highly profitable.
For instance, in 1999, he conceived the idea of creating a borderless bank to ease the process of international transactions.
At that time, everyone’s reaction regarding the internet itself was not much satisfactory. Still, he stuck to his vision and started X.com.
His small startup grew into what we now recognize as PayPal.
The lesson to learn here is that your company’s vision is the foundation of your business that keeps you on track. If you have a clear goal in mind, you have a better chance of following through with your plan.
4. Have A Clear Execution Plan
“The first master plan that I wrote 10 years ago is now in the final stages of completion.” — Elon Musk
Many consider Elon Musk a highly ambitious man who pursues wild ideas that are sometimes borderline unrealistic.
While the analysis is somewhat true, his string of achievements proves he builds solid executive plans before investing in risky business ventures.
Tesla is a real-time example of his strategic planning.
Elon Musk’s plan for Tesla Motors was not just limited to manufacturing electric cars.
He wanted the company to become a source of sustainable energy.
To achieve that goal, he created a master plan and laid out exactly how he would accomplish his objectives. Over the years, he systematically won each milestone and got what he had set out to do ten years ago.
The moral of the story is that having a clear goal raises your success rate by ten times. The strategy gives you measurable objectives, allowing you to accomplish them realistically.
5. Become A Brand
“A company is a group organized to create a product or service, and it is only as good as its people and how excited they are about creating. I do want to recognize a ton of super-talented people. I just happen to be the face of the companies.” – Elon Musk
Elon Musk didn’t just happen to be the face of Tesla; he made it happen.
Despite being a workaholic, Elon Musk invested heavily in his image. With his charismatic personality, he not only makes sure people appreciate his work but also associates him with his companies, not the other way around.
If you think about it, Tesla’s major success is partially due to the powerful influence of Elon Musk. He brought his target market’s attention to Tesla long before electric cars were launched to the market, and today when people think about Tesla, they envision Elon Musk.
What Elon Musk has taught us is that your reputation can positively change your customer’s perception of your company. If you want, you can increase your brand visibility by becoming the face of your company.
6. Show Business Transparency
“In our cars we do not use any rare earths originating from doubtful countries. Our engine mainly consists of copper and steel.” — Elon Musk
Elon Musk is popular for his brutal honesty and business transparency. He has gained customer loyalty through his work ethic, and he hosts a huge following by simply being open about his products.
One example of his transparency is Tesla’s master plan. When Tesla wasn’t even launched on the market, Elon Musk revealed his Master Plan and made his patent public. He boldly shared his trade secrets and showed the world what his product offered to the economy.
The action brought him tons of public appreciation and support from his fans.
Business transparency builds goodwill and helps you establish a long-term customer base. 85% of people will willingly make a repeat purchase from your company if you have a good work ethic.
7. Understand People’s Mindset
“Nobody wants to buy a $60,000 electric Civic. But people will pay $90,000 for an electric sports car.” — Elon Musk
One of the reasons Elon Musk’s innovations are in high demand is because of the perceived value of his products.
People use PayPal due to its popularity, but they continue to avail themselves of the service because they believe it’s reliable and convenient.
Similarly, Tesla customers don’t pay high prices merely for the sake of saving the environment. It may be a major factor, but not the deciding one. They buy Tesla cars because it appear to be worth the money.
Just as your brand can influence people’s buying decisions, your product value can also increase your customer retention.
In Elon Musk’s words, “nobody wants to buy a $60,000 electric Civic. But people will pay $90,000 for an electric sports car.”
8. Build Relationships
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk
As you know lead nurturing is typically part of the customer journey.
While most large enterprises use multiple channels to keep their prospects’ attention toward their brand, rarely do owners directly engage their audience. Elon Musk, on the other hand, employs a mix of humor, humility, and expertise to build relationships with customers.
He joins real-time conversations and personally involves his customers in his business happenings to make them feel a part of his inner circle.
If you look at his social media interactions, his communications show he genially makes efforts and listens to what his people say. And what’s incredible, his kinship with his customers also has benefited his company several times during a crisis and helped him gain volunteers to cut costs.
That’s a huge feat.
9. Foster Team Building
“People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.” — Elon Musk
Elon Musk inspires deep loyalty in his team because of his leadership style.
He is a transformational leader who encourages team input and believes you can only increase your company’s productivity if your employees are happy to work with you.
“If you are a manager or leading at any level at SpaceX, we stress that your team is not there to serve you. You are there to serve your team and help them do the best possible job for the company.”
Your leadership style reflects your employee’s behavior. You are the one who builds your company culture, and you can create a harmonious workplace.
Take inspiration from Elon Musk. He fosters team building by acknowledging his employees’ efforts. He motivates them with gestures of appreciation and pushes them to think outside the box.
10. Never Quit
“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.” – Elon Musk
Elon Musk has led an incredibly volatile professional life and has faced a lot of unfortunate situations.
When he raised initial funding for X.com (which became PayPal), he was replaced from his CEO position on account of being inexperienced.
In his initial years at Tesla, he suffered massive losses and struggled with public discouragement. His SpaceX project failed three times before he launched his first rocket.
Every time Elon Musk earned something, circumstances, controversies, and criticism pushed him down. Yet he never gave up and started all over again.
His persistence is the key to his success today.
Business brings with it all kinds of risks and rewards.
You’ll repeatedly face failures in the early years of your company, and your strategies will not always work out the way you want. But as long as you learn from your mistakes and step up, you can achieve great results.
11. Don’t Worry About Competition
“I’m glad to see that BMW is bringing an electric car to market. That’s cool.” — Elon Musk
Elon Musk deals with competition in a surprisingly different way.
Instead of brewing counter-strategies, he acknowledges his opponent’s efforts and openly shows his support.
You can tell from the fact that when more car manufacturing brands started launching electric cars, rather than alarmed, Elon Musk appeared glad. “I hope they move even faster than they announce.”
In his mind, the goal of Tesla was to speed up sustainable energy growth, not to dominate the market. And while eventually, it would have to make changes to drive sales, he is not concerned about competition.
Competition is a part of the business and there’s nothing you can do about it. Look at the big picture instead and focus on our goals.
12. Embrace Criticism
“I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” — Elon Musk
If you’ve ever seen Elon Musk’s responses to people, you’ll notice the guy is a master at turning criticism into his favor. He gracefully owns his product failures and fully embraces negative feedback. That’s what makes him a publicly likable person and a great influencer.
Check out the Tesla cyber truck unveiling disaster just to see the proof of it.
During a demonstration, when the car windows broke down, Elon Musk acknowledged his mistake with his usual humor and continued with his demo. Tesla received 150k orders following the event.
Accepting negative feedback is not particularly appealing. It puts you on the spot and makes you feel uncomfortable. More, it can hurt your business.
But how you respond to criticism can change the outcome of your business mishaps.
13. Challenge Yourself
“If we drive down the cost of transportation in space, we can do great things.” — Elon Musk
Elon Musk has raised multiple empires by constantly challenging himself. He notices a problem and works on it until he can find the right solution.
Do you know how he started SpaceX?
He came up with the idea during a visit to Moscow to buy rockets for his Mars greenhouse project.
While searching for a cheap rocket, he realized the only affordable way to build commercial space exploration was to create a usable space vehicle. So, he launched a company to fix it.
Now you’ll see him giving a similar focus to his infrastructure venture, The Boring Company.
What Elon Musk has shown us is that to scale your business, you have to challenge yourself repeatedly. That’s essentially how brilliant ideas are born and executed.
14. Make An Impact
“When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.” — Elon Musk
Elon Musk generates a lot of publicity because of his drive to make an impact on society. He believes a business should have a purpose, and let his audience know how his products are making life better.
His radical thoughts draw people toward his products and willingly support him in his endeavors.
“There have to be reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live.
Why do you want to live?
What’s the point?
What inspires you?
What do you love about the future?”
Customers connect more emotionally to brands that offer more value than just a product. It makes them feel better knowing the money they’re spending is indirectly helping society.
Take up a cause if you want your customers to invest in your business.
15. Work Hard
“Starting a business is not for everyone. Starting a business – I’d say, number one is have a high pain threshold.” — Elon Musk
Elon Musk has built a successful career through dedication and hard work. He spent sleepless nights working toward his goal and gave endless hours of his life to reach the place he is now.
He believes a person can significantly improve their odds of success if they make more efforts and “work like hell.”
“If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks and you’re putting in 100-hour workweeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.”
There’s no doubt the more hours you give to your business, the more you get the work done. Business requires undivided focus, and if you can do that, you’ll get even better results.
It goes without saying Elon Musk is one of the wealthiest and successful entrepreneurs the world has ever seen.
He has accomplished a lot in a relatively short time and could’ve easily retired eons ago to enjoy his life in comfort.
Yet, he works relentlessly to discover opportunities so he can contribute more to society. That’s why he is such an admirable entrepreneur.
Take inspiration from Elon Musk and use his lessons to forge your career path. Good luck!
You may also like to read our article on Tesla’s Marketing Strategy.