When you think of a revolutionary entrepreneur you admire, who comes to mind?
Given the different contexts of how different people view things, many names will come to mind.
For me, Elon Musk is someone every entrepreneur should admire.
Who Is Elon Musk?
The answer to this question varies depending on who you ask.
Some people will view him as a tyrant who is better known for his childish Twitter outbursts than any business accomplishments.
Some people will view him as a greedy supervillain billionaire who should give his money to the Government rather than pursue space exploration.
Others, like me, will view him as a passionate, risk-taking visionary who never gives up no matter how many failures he has.
Why Do I Have Such A Positive View of Elon Musk?
Here are 4 reasons why I admire him (and why other aspiring entrepreneurs should do the same):
- Courage to create a bold vision combined with his lack of fear in declaring it to the masses.
A vision should state a clear, purposeful goal with a completion date. Perhaps no one is better than Musk at having a clear vision and stating it to the public.
Here’s a great example: “We’re going to land people on Mars by 2025“.
Musk’s vision statements can affect markets. In 2016, Tesla reported its eleventh straight quarterly loss and that they were 20% short on their cash goal, causing a massive selloff. Later, Musk announced his vision – to deliver 60% more vehicles than last year, increase cash on hand, and become more profitable by the end of 2016.
With his proclamation, his stock value rose 5%.
Musk doesn’t just say something and walk away from it, no matter how outlandish his claim may appear to be. When he states his vision, he repeats it over and over again until it becomes a reality.
2. Unwavering passion.
In 2002, PayPal was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, making Elon Musk wealthier than most of us could ever even dream to become. With all that money, no one could blame him for just wanting to kick back, retire, and enjoy the rest of his life relaxing.
Instead, Elon has moved on to do battle in two of the riskier industries one could imagine: space exploration and renewable energy.
He isn’t in this for the money. When accused of wanting to advance and save humanity only because there was money in it, he responded by saying that “creating a rocket company has to be one of the dumbest and hardest ways to make money. If it was about the money, I’d just create another Internet company.”
One of the secrets to having a successful business is to do something you love and find a way to profit from it. You have to have passion in what you’re doing if you’re going to put up with the long hours, stress, overcoming of obstacles, and all the uphill battles that go along with being a business owner because caffeine and luck will carry you for so long.
Money is a great motivator, but even money will only take you so far. One of the reasons so few people ever become great is because they become good, and once you’re good, there’s no real need to be great.
For Musk, it isn’t just about passion – it’s a passionate obsession. Musk doesn’t want to experience life as it is but rather wishes to engineer a life that’s based on what isn’t yet. In order to turn his vision into a reality, he works hundred hour work weeks, sleeps in his factories, and puts his heart & soul into everything he does.
Luck and caffeine eventually run out. The difference between being good enough and reaching greatness is your ability to be fueled by the passion you have in what you’re doing.
3. Risk Taker
In 2001, on his flight back from being rebuffed in his efforts to purchase rockets from Russia, Elon came up with the idea for SpaceX to build the rockets himself.
The others on the flight thought he was crazy, but he simply told them that he had created a spreadsheet and passed his laptop over to the team. The spreadsheet contained all the materials & costs required to build & launch a rocket.
According to the data provided by Musk’s calculations, he felt he could build a smaller rocket and undercut everything that NASA and the Russians were doing to cut costs.
They were dumbfounded. Musk wasn’t. Creating a spreadsheet and understanding the numbers is all it takes for Musk to set his sights on something, no matter how big.
Whenever Musk wants to decide if something is possible or not, he sets about “calculating what physics dictates is possible, not extrapolating from the status quo” to help him understand risk and take action.
4. Ability to overcome failure.
While Musk has an impressive resume littered with accomplishments, he’s had his fair share of failures.
Here’s a short list of some of the major failures he’s endured:
- 1996 – ousted as CEO of his own company at Zip2
- 1999 – first PayPal product was voted one of the 10 worst business ideas
- 2000 – ousted from PayPal while on his honeymoon
- 2000 – almost dies from cerebral malaria
- 2001 – unable to purchase rockets from Russia to pursue his goal of sending mice & plants to Mars
- 2006 – finally launches his first rocket and it explodes just after liftoff
- 2007 – 2nd rocket launch and 2nd explosion
- 2008 – 3rd rocket launch and 3rd explosion (this time with NASA satellites onboard)
- 2008 – both Tesla and SpaceX on the verge of bankruptcy
- 2014 – Tesla Model S has several problems with spontaneous battery combustion
- 2015 – 4th rocket launch explosion
- 2016 – Model X deliveries delayed by more than 18 months
- 2016 – 5th rocket launch explosion (worth over $300M)
Despite these multiple failures of epic proportions, Musk still perseveres and carries on. Ultimately, his ability to do so stems from his ability to analyze risks – if his spreadsheet says something can still financially be done after a failure, he’ll still proceed. But his willingness to keep plodding thru has to do with his unwavering passion.
To get the most out of life, you’ve got to be willing to be bold, take risks, and when you fail, get back up again and persevere. There’s no better example of someone with these traits than Elon Musk. You may not like his outbursts or his political or environmental views, but anyone who applies these 4 traits to their business will become incredibly fulfilled.
Who is your favorite entrepreneur? Leave their names and a brief reason why below!