Do you think I am insane?
Elon Musk asked Ashlee Vance this question the first time they met, when the latter had just finished interviewing him for his book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Believing him to be sane or otherwise is in your hands, but what you can’t change is the fact that he is presently one of the most successful and widely discussed entrepreneurs in the world.
Elon Musk is no doubt a visionary with the drive to turn his ideas into reality, and there are a lot of lessons that young entrepreneurs can take away from his life.
1) Only you can make your idea a reality:
Every new thing starts with an idea, the success of which is completely dependent on the way you execute it. If you are not obsessed with your idea, no one else will be, either!
One of the key reasons for Elon’s success is the way he executes his ideas. While many people know Elon by the success of Tesla Motors or SpaceX, his very first venture was a web listing project like Yelp back in the ’90s, when only a few people used the internet. At that time, no one was convinced about his project, but his dedication paid off when after a few years, Compaq bought it for some $407 million in cash.
Takeaway: You should be a 100 percent committed to your idea.
2) Stay ahead of the competition by welcoming new opportunities:
At the start of his career, Elon worked as an intern at a financial institution. At the time, the financial sector preferred to work in conventional ways, avoiding changes. However, not one to be conventional, Elon had started to think of an online bank which could ‘rule them all’, even though the internet was only in its infancy.
Similarly, when Elon entered the highly competitive space industry, it was governed by decades-old standards, and his innovations raised quite a few eyebrows. However, SpaceX, now one of the top names in the industry, has managed to cut costs so dramatically that for the first time in history, passenger flights to space are looking possible.
Takeaway: If you want to be successful quickly, you should look for solutions to problems which are untouched.
3) Keep learning and welcome the criticism:
Elon has had a vast impact on different industries and sectors. While his first venture was about web listings, he later moved to the financial sector. He didn’t stop there — he has since entered the automobile, space, and aeronautics industries, only to dominate them.
Many people compare him with Steve Jobs for his wide impact on different sectors, but what surprises the people near him is his in-depth knowledge of every subject he talks about. When he entered the space industry and started meeting suppliers and vendors, most of them thought of him as another billionaire fond of throwing money around, only to be proven wrong; Elon always enters an industry with complete preparation and clear goals.
Takeaway: It is not necessary that you will only be successful in the industry where your actual expertise resides, but if you want to be an industry leader, you must prepare yourself with all the details and technologies.
4) Always have a vision for the future:
Predicting what the world will come to in another 20 years is something everyone engages in, but if there is someone who will play an active role in shaping the future, it is undoubtedly Elon Musk. One day he is revealing his self-driving electric car, while on another he is talking about passenger flights to Mars in the coming decade.
On the one hand, he is closely working with companies for future transportation services like Hyperloop, while on the other, he is warning the world about the dangers of artificial intelligence. The hacking of Apple HomeKit-enabled accessories and other insecure channels of communication all confirm his concerns in this area.
Takeaway: Change is the only constant in this world. If you want to stay and become a market leader, having a vision is not enough; you have to strive to ensure it comes true.
5) Learn to absorb the pain and suffering to survive:
Success is never easy. You must learn to absorb the pain and sufferings you encounter on your journey. Today, everyone is chasing Elon Musk and praising him for his success, but there were days when everything was against him except a few friends.
His personal life was in deep trouble and ended in divorce. His first wife started writing blogs on their painful journey which started creating more problems for Elon. This was the time when Tesla Motors was near bankruptcy and SpaceX had failed to successfully launch its first rocket despite multiple attempts. But Elon absorbed all this pain and suffering and managed to survive, only to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his time.
Takeaway: You will face a lot of difficulties, pain, and suffering. The idea is to survive. If you are able to survive, you will eventually be successful.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)