Unless you’ve been living under a space rock, you’ve probably heard of Elon Musk a few times.
As the visionary CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink, and co-founder of SolarCity, Musk has managed to bring electric vehicles into vogue, when so many before him failed, as well as helping make solar energy more effective and accessible. He’s also the most likely person to finally send humanity into live settlements on a different planet.
From rocket scientist to rockstar celebrity (and part-time Twitter enthusiast), Elon Musk inspires millions around the world, and is considered one of the greatest minds of this generation. As an entrepreneur, he’s at the steering wheel of three companies worth billions of dollars, plus other ventures, all helping solve various issues at a global scale.
Let’s now explore some of his most sage advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs:
1. “People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.” — Elon Musk
Starting with this vital quote, Elon Musk talks about the necessity of having your passion – that which you truly love to do – be at the forefront of your business. Whether it’s music, wildlife, building things, helping others, or anything else that you enjoy doing above all else, this should be at the very core of what you do every day of your life.
2. “If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.” — Elon Musk
You don’t need everyone in your company to be the same as you. In fact, you need a whole variety of people to make things work. From using the right spokesperson for your brand, to bringing a sales and marketing team that fits your business, it’s all about bringing all the pieces together, creating something better than the sum of their parts.
3. “The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.” — Elon Musk
This quote has at times drawn controversy, as for many, the role of a company is first and foremost to make money. Therefore the CFO -> CEO transitions seems logical. But this side-steps the fact that the CEO should be someone who thoroughly understand the ‘why’ of the company, not just how to squeeze more money out of their customers.
With a vast background in car, rocket and energy engineering, Elon knows that only those who know the literal ‘nuts and bolts’ of a business can truly understand the essence of the business, and steer it into a successful pathway. By focusing on a vision that goes beyond the next quarters, a CEO can bring more long-term ideas to fruition.
4. “The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.” — Elon Musk
A crucial reminder from Elon Musk to never allow frameworks and processes to stop the flow of creativity. When this happens, and employees are valued for following predetermined tasks as opposed to coming up with new ideas, a business won’t survive, because the market forces are constantly changing. Critical thinking is needed to adapt.
5. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” — Elon Musk
What you do every day, it must feel like it’s your purpose in life. That way you will defeat odds that seemed insurmountable at first. There will always be naysayers, or people who don’t realise how much a single person can accomplish. But when you’re in flow with your purpose, you will reach heights you would not even have imagined were possible.
6. “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.” — Elon Musk
Valuable advice to only have people you trust in your business, who feel aligned with your purpose. Nobody’s perfect, but it’s also important to not keep people around who are not connected to your values. That way you can rest assured that they want what’s best for the company, and not just for themselves. ‘Good-hearted’ people are like that.
7. “My motivation for all my companies has been to be involved in something that I thought would have a significant impact on the world.” — Elon Musk
Life is short, this much we know. Whether we live to be 30, 60 or even 100, the time we spend on this Earth is much shorter than the time we’ll spend ‘elsewhere’. What we do with this time is very precious. So it makes sense to spend our days doing things that have a big impact in the world, which at the end of our lives we can be really proud of.
Why not seek to create something that helps other people, society or the environment? You may want to build your wealth first so you can be financially free, which is fair. Yet there are a near-infinite number of pathways to riches. Historically, the best and most reliable way to get there is by providing real value to others first. That way what you do will more likely be in demand, while your daily actions will positively impact the world.