5 things I have learned from Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal

It’s the strange ones, the people who color outside the lines, who walk unfamiliar paths who change the world. Find yourself out there in the wilderness wandering and bring that love and excitement back to the world. Share it. Take your insight and enthusiasm and give share it with the world. If you’re going to take the risks no one else took, if you’re going to live the life no one else lived, you may as well tell the world the lessons you learned from living on the edge. Be daring, and be open to the possibilities of the world and you’ll find yourself in the middle of an extraordinary life.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal is one such person. Born in South Africa, he began a journey to become a US Citizen at the age of seventeen. He gave up on his PhD studies in physics to pursue his interests in the internet, renewable energy, and space. He founded PayPal, which grew enormously and continues to be one of the most used web-based financial tools in the world. He sold it to begin SpaceX, which specialises in space exploration. From there, he began Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and Hyperloop. Musk is a man who doesn’t easily fit into any model for what an entrepreneur or CEO should be, but his drive and determination makes him a constant success. Here are some of his most useful pieces of advice.

1. Get as much feedback and advice as you can.

It doesn’t matter what your idea is: get advice and get critical feedback. You may have to draw this feedback out of them, but it’s the most important to get. Ask them what’s wrong and listen to what they say. They’ll help you discover the quality of your idea, and also the holes in it. By listening and asking for help, you’ll learn a lot about what your goal actually is and how to get there.

2. Focus.

Though Musk started Tesla and SpaceX simultaneously, he strongly recommends against doing it. Throw your time and energy into one project. Work day and night to make it succeed. Seven days a week and no breaks. That’s the kind of dedication it takes to start a company and make it grow into a success. Success isn’t easy and it doesn’t come from just having a great idea or the right amount of investment money. It takes serious work for years.

3. Find a team that works.

Make sure everyone understands exactly what the goal is. When brining someone into your company, give them your mission, make them understand it, and make them know that they’ll be a part of reaching that. Keep things clearly defined and understood and let them know that this overall goal is now their goal. That improves their enthusiasm, since you’re finding people who are doing more than just working for a paycheck. They’re working for a company they believe in and are proud to be a member of. On the other side, don’t be afraid to let people go who aren’t willing to be a part of that goal anymore.

4. Things will start hard and get harder before they get better.

You’re going to be putting in a lot of work and it’ll be difficult, but you’ll be optimistic and full of energy because you’re making your idea and dream come to life. Though the beginnings are tough, you feel better about them because things are progressing and you’re feeling good. It’s when things begin to go wrong that the real difficulty comes. When you’re into your second or fifth year of the company and you’re still working tirelessly, doing all kinds of chores you’re not interested in but need to be done in order for the company to succeed–that’s where the real difficulty comes. Be prepared to do whatever it takes. You’ll be constantly in danger of the company dying, and if you’re not prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed, then you won’t.

5. Foster growth.

Do whatever you can to foster growth. Take chances and bet on yourself, and bet on small companies. Though they’re small and fragile and may not succeed, the rewards are bigger when they do succeed. You’ll be up against giant companies whose lawyers make more than your whole company, and it’ll be up to you to fight back and keep growing. In the face of so much adversity, it won’t be easy, so focus on growing where you can.

Elon Musk is a visionary and enormous success. There are few like him, but if you want to try and walk in his shoes, then take his advice.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.