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Learning from Elon Musk, 5 lessons on being a successful entrepreneur

After the creation of Paypal, famous entrepreneur Elon Musk set his sights on something higher. So high, it passed our skies. The now founder of SpaceX, who owns the first privately owned working spacecraft to travel to the International space station, is a mysterious enigma.

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One of two people to have ever founded three billion-dollar companies, Elon Musk has dedicated his life to revolutionizing how we travel, both on Earth and in Space.

Not only that, he has also become an inspirational role model to millions of people, even inspiring Robert Downy Jr’s depiction of Tony Stark’s Iron Man.

Musk continues to inspire us, and here some of the things we could learn from this self-starter.


1- Build solid foundation

Elon Musk is a big fan of fundamentals, and learning the basics as much as possible.

“It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

“[Physics is] a good framework for thinking … Boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there.”

All of his quotes simply mean to improve your thinking and process by going to the roots, the basics of what you want to fix or do. Put aside what everyone else has said and done, and focus on objective data and clear observation.


2- Focus on impact, not money or probabilities

“Going from PayPal, I thought: ‘Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?’ Not from the perspective, ‘What’s the best way to make money?’”

Musk focuses on helping revolutionize humans through his projects. Paypal, originally X.com, was created to help solve an issue, and when that succeeded, he turned his sights to bigger things.

All entrepreneurs can do this, by focusing on giving something to their customers and not only about profit. If you want to do something great, don’t do it for yourself.


3- Perseverance keeps you going

A classic tip from almost every entrepreneur but one that always stands true. Sometimes the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is getting up from falling.

Elon Musk was severely bullied as child, lived off of loans from rich friends before throwing all he had into his Tesla project, and drank around 96 ounces of Diet Coke and some coffee to stay awake for his 100-hours work weeks to get his companies off the ground.

His advice for those afraid of not succeeding, “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”


4- Hire people with talent and good heart

Hiring is an important element in any entrepreneurship, and Musk joins hundreds of people who have found out that talent can’t beat bad personalities in the working environment.

“My biggest mistake is probably weighing too much on someone’s talent and not someone’s personality. I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.”


5- Failure is not defeat; plan for it

Failure is a big part of growth, as a company and as a person, which is why it is a common saying to dust off failure whenever it happens. Musk on the other hand, wants you to plan for it.

When SpaceX was starting out, Elon Musk was quoted stating “If we don’t get the first SpaceX rocket launch to succeed by the time we’ve spent $100 million, we will stop the company. That will be enough for three attempted launches.”

When the first of his two space rockets failed, at 30$ million and 60$ million respectively, Musk was in a tight spot. His third rocket? Made it to space, the successful launch gave SpaceX a 1.6$ Billion contract from NASA.

Elon Musk was afraid of failure, but he didn’t wait for it to hit him to fall down and get better. He planned for it, then became better.

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