It is said that one of the best ways to learn something is to study and watch the people who are very successful at this task. So, if one was wanting to get better at business and the strategies behind it, a great way to learn would be by studying and learning about some of the greatest businessmen in the world. One of the most talked-about businessmen in the world currently is Elon Musk. Elon Musk is a very hardworking, intelligent man who owns multiple multimillion-dollar companies and is very wealthy himself. By studying him and the way he thinks, people can learn some of the tactics and strategies he uses to make money and run his businesses and apply them to their own lives to improve their own wealth and business knowledge.
Elon’s childhood was far from normal. He was born in Pretoria, South Africa on June 28, 1971, to Errol and Maye Musk (Blystone, 2019). Elon was very different compared to other kids. He always kept to himself, ignored just about everyone, and would constantly zone out. This problem was so bad that doctors originally believed he had hearing problems as a small child (Vance,2018). Musk had a very strong ambition, even as a child. He read at least one book every day in an attempt to expand his knowledge (Adkin, 2019). He got his first computer at the age of nine. At the age of twelve, he first started working with programming, which he taught himself when he made his own video game and sold it for five hundred dollars. The game was called Blastar (Blystone, 2019). Then, at the age of seventeen, Musk decided to move to America by himself. He first moved in with some relatives in Canada and worked at low-end jobs. He also attended Queens University in Kingston Ontario for two years before moving to the United States in 1992 after receiving a scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania. Here, he would obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. To further his education, Musk also attended The Wharton School for the University of Pennsylvania for another year to acquire a bachelor's degree in science (AstrumPeople, 2019).
Elon owns or is part of multiple companies and has lots of things going his way at the moment. He is currently forty-eight years old and has a net worth of about twenty-two billion dollars (AstrumPeople, 2019). Elon owns multiple companies that range from dealing with spaceships to making flamethrowers, but his first-ever official business was a company called Zip2 that he started up with his brother. This company created a platform on the internet that could offer its customers some additional services. In 1999, Musk would sell the company to AltaVista for three hundred and seven million dollars (Adkin, 2019). With this money, Elon could now focus on some of his bigger and better ideas, thanks to the ability for him to be able to fund them now. Musk’s second company was called X.com until it merged with another company named Confinity to become the more well-known company today: PayPal. This company would become the first to ever create a digital currency. Musk would once again sell this company to eBay for one and a half billion dollars, which he would end up splitting up with other owners of the company (Adkin, 2019). Elon’s next business is arguably his most famous business to date, Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors is a car company that only sells electric cars. In 2008, the first model, the Tesla Roadster, was released. It could travel around two hundred miles in one charge (Hoffman, 2012). These cars are known for their simplicity and their technology. As a matter of fact, some of the newer models have the option to come with an autopilot model (Vance,2018). Another one of his biggest companies is the company SpaceX. SpaceX is a company that launches rockets into space. A big reason for the starting of this company is Elon’s fascination with trying to colonize Mars. It is one of his biggest goals in life. The company is located out of Hawthorne, California. Elon has put so much effort into this company specifically that he already has fifty launches planned over multiple years that would cost around five billion dollars and has gotten contracts from NASA for over 1.6 billion dollars (Vance, 2018). Musk is also the biggest investor and chairman of the board of Solar City located in San Mateo, California. He invested over ten million dollars into the company. This company is one of the largest energy suppliers in the entire world. It provides energy to businesses, homes, and governments through solar panels (AstrumPeople, 2019). All of Elon’s companies share a common factor. They all deal with either space colonization, renewable resources, or the internet. This is because Elon’s goal in life is to significantly contribute to things that will impact humanity’s destiny in the future. He is always pushing the boundaries of society for the better.
Elon Musk is so successful and powerful because of a few key strategies and methods he uses. One of the biggest reasons is that he is very good and making products that appeal to feelings and emotions(Dudharejia, 2017). By appealing to their emotions, people are much more likely to impulsively buy your product, spend their money on it without even thinking about it, and even develop a need for your product. Another thing about Musk is that he is always confident that whatever he invests in is going to succeed. As a matter of fact, he is so confident and assured others that what he does will be successful that there is such thing called “The Musk Effect”. This effect has been proven through the fact that every company he has started or joined has had a tremendous spike in success rate as soon as he joins the company. For example, Musk originally had little understanding of cars and rockets, but he was so confident and quick to learn about them that Tesla and SpaceX are now huge companies worth millions of dollars (Dudharejia, 2017). Musk also uses a method of tactical thinking called first principles thinking which reframes a problem to help give a simpler solution. First-principles thinking is when one makes a basic assumption that cannot be deduced any further than what it already is. This strategy helps when trying to break down complex problems. An example of this from Elon Musk can be found when Elon first had ideas of making rockets to discover Mars and the rest of space. While doing research, he found out that rockets can cost up to sixty-five million dollars. So, instead of asking himself where he could find an affordable rocket, Musk asked himself what made rockets so expensive. He did more research and found that the materials needed to make a rocket in the market were only about two percent of the actual price of premade rockets. By simplifying the problem he had, Elon was able to reduce the price of building his first rocket by ten times the price of the original pre-built one (MacKay, 2017). Determination is another strong attribute of Musks. He has a drive for success like no other and will stop at nothing to accomplish his goals and get what he wants to be done. When Elon first moved to America and started working on Zip2, he was poor and had nowhere to live, but he did not let that stop him from working. He lived, slept, and worked all in the same office area and had to go shower in the locker rooms of a local stadium (Carolyn F., 2016). Musk is also good at changing the traditional way of thinking. This can be seen in all his companies. For example, Tesla is formed off the idea of using renewable resources to fuel transportation instead of the traditional fossil fuels which are bad for the environment. When first joining in on the rocket business competition, Musk realized that he would once again have to revolutionize how people thought about rockets in order to beat out the big-name companies that had already existed. He did this by introducing reusable rockets, which cut costs tremendously (Carolyn F., 2016). Another simple thing that Elon does is enjoy his current success and reward his hard work occasionally. An example of this can be found when he bought an eighteen hundred square foot condo after he got his share from the sale of his first startup. He even spent one million dollars on a McLaren car for one million dollars (Ahmed, 2016). By doing this in moderation, he can not only enjoy life more, but he is boosting his confidence which helps tremendously in business. Elon is also a major risk-taker. As stated earlier, he moved across the country and away from his family as a teenager. When Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City were just starting up, Elon invested so much money into the companies that he had to borrow money from his friends just to cover his living expenses (Garin, 2019). Obviously, it looks like all these risks he took worked out for him, but the truth is that he failed lots of times throughout the process. Musk once said that he believed that Tesla would be a failure, but he did it anyway because it was important to him (Garin, 2019). The key to this is that he not only is not afraid to fail, but when he does, he is able to learn from his mistakes to make himself and his companies better all around. A very important business strategy Musk also uses is investing his profits from companies into other companies. By doing this he can generate more ways of income, making him even more money. From the two companies that he has sold, he has invested at least forty-five percent of the earnings off of it into building new companies (Garin, 2019). If Musk had not have invested the money he made from Zip2 into his other companies, he more than likely would not be nearly as popular, wealthy, or successful.
While it may seem that Elon’s life over the past few years has been just about perfect, it is far from the truth. For him to be as successful as he is, he has had to make many big choices on what and where he spends his time. He has sacrificed so much time on his businesses that he has no time for anything else, even his own family. It got so bad that he would eventually end up getting a divorce from his wife, Justine (Adkin, 2019). Another downfall that comes with being the ruthless leader that Elon is, is that he is hated by lots of people, including his own employees. There was a point in time where Tesla was struggling and not doing well. So, Elon had some of his employees working twenty-four-hour workdays. Running all these businesses also puts him under a lot of stress, which he often releases onto his employees. Elon once tasked his best worker at SpaceX, Steve Davis, to take a part that was quoted at one hundred and twenty thousand dollars and build it for Elon with a budget of under five thousand dollars. After working on it every day for over nine months, he finally was able to make it for only three thousand nine hundred dollars. He then wrote Elon an email describing this as the greatest accomplishment of his life, to which Elon responded with a simple ok (Adkin, 2019). Even though Elon’s treatment towards Davis helped to do something never done before, it gave many people a reason to dislike Elon. One of the worst things Elon did though was with Mary Beth Brown, his longtime executive assistant. She worked behind the scenes a lot with all of Elon’s companies to make sure that they were running right and was always by Elon's side when he needed help. She did so much work that she believed that she deserved a raise. When she asked for one Elon responded by telling her to take two weeks off to see if he could do her job by himself. When she came back after two weeks, Elon fired her on the spot (Adkin, 2019). While Elon’s ruthless mindset is beneficial to him and his companies most of the time, it also comes with some major downfalls.
As seen, Elon lived a very different life from others, which is what it takes to be as successful as he is. By looking at some of the ups and downs in his life, tactics and strategies for not only business but also for life were discovered. The study of how Elon thought and the information on the businesses he owns also helped to unravel new techniques. Sometimes the goal to be successful is hard and will be no fun as seen by Elon’s beginnings. It takes lots of perseverance, sacrifice, and dedication in order to become better. Being successful and wealthy also has its downfalls. People will always be looking to hate and be against whoever is the most successful. Overall, much was learned through the studying of Elon Musk’s life that could help one in starting a business, running a business, making money, and even just life in general.