Four big names. Eight even bigger lessons. In this article, we discuss what the journeys of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs teach us about being extraordinary entrepreneurs. Without further ado, let’s move on to the first one on the list.
Elon Musk: Dream Big
Elon Musk has been consistently considered one of the most influential and visionary entrepreneurs in actuality. No wonder! His ideas and efforts vary from colonizing Mars to revolutionizing the energy industry.
But what are some practical insights every single entrepreneur can take from Elon Musk? What does the mindset and actions of this giant teach us, mere mortals?
1. Focus on the Impact of Your Idea
Where there is a will, there is a way.
Elon does not focus on how much effort he will have to put into making his ideas come true. He focuses on how big of an impact he will cause. A quick look at some of his ideas – the Boring Company, Mars colonization, and city-to-city rocket travel, for example – show that he does not dream small.
Focusing on the impact of your idea and on how it will make humanity better also means that you should not be doing something for money. If you enter a business simply because you believe you will make a lot of cash, you will either be unsuccessful or unhappy with what you do. Focusing on the impact of your idea and on your true passion are essential for being an outstanding entrepreneur.
2. Be Willing to Take Risks and to Challenge Your Beliefs
Risks are usually among the “things to avoid” list of entrepreneurs. This mindset, however, will not take you very far. Failure has been seen as a positive component of learning for many companies and entrepreneurs – take X, Google’s most risky and innovative department, for instance – including Elon Musk.
His failure record includes three rocket explosions, a product voted among the 10 worst business ideas, and a near-death disease contracted during his vacations. Nonetheless, his resilience shows no limits, and he is constantly learning from his mistakes.
Entrepreneurs should look for the same experiences. When trying to avoid risk, we inevitably fall back to the average. We don’t innovate. We don’t create. Failure is a part of the innovation process, and if seen with good eyes, it will help you develop an even better product!
Jeff Bezos: Innovate and Grow
Jeff Bezos currently holds the position of the richest man in the World. Even if we are not aiming at dominating the world (a crime that Amazon has already been charged with), we can learn many important lessons from Bezos’ journey and the mindset.
3. Focus on the Customers’ Needs and Work Backwards
While this might sound obvious, the vast majority of businesses operate in the reverse order. What most entrepreneurs do is to create a product that they believe will meet the customers’ expectations before actually understanding what the customers want. This is fairly understandable: when we come up with an idea, we believe it is great and are highly likely to fall into the trap of the projection bias. We project our sense of greatness to others, and we believe customers will see our product the way we see it, in all its splendor.
The truth is: focusing on the customers’ needs and working backwards is what will actually make you successful. Understand what your customer wants takes time and research, and most of the time it will lead you to a product that you were not exactly targeting in the first place. However, if you stick to this principle, you will notice a much higher engagement and success rate for your business!
4. Innovate Leadership
If you want to be inventive, you have to be willing to fail.
The idea of failure appears here again, but this time under a different scenario. Leaders can also fail (we all are, after all, only humans), and innovation in leadership is a great candidate for it.
But what do I mean when I say innovation in leadership? This is about how Bezos runs his company, and on what he focuses. While many entrepreneurs run their businesses thinking about the short-term cash inflows and on how to charge the maximum premium from customers, Bezos thinks differently. He is willing to be misunderstood for several months or years while his products do not bring a profitable return – as long as he believes the idea. His leadership position also focuses not on charging more for the products, but exactly on the opposite. He works to increase the efficiency of his processes, therefore aiming at charging lower prices to the customers. This is a consequence of his evergreen focus on customers, and one of his most valuable lessons.
Mark Zuckerberg: Experiment with Ideas
Mark Zuckerberg is among the most admired entrepreneurs in the tech industry. His company is among PwC’s Big Five technology companies that are likely to lead the industry during the coming years’ tech revolution. As such, a closer look at his contributions and teachings is absolutely mandatory for anyone who wants to become a better entrepreneur.
5. Create a Solution, not a Company
I often say inside the company that my goal was never to just create a company. That’s not actually it at all. You need to do those things to succeed in any meaningful way.
Nowadays it is almost impossible to come up with a completely new idea. No matter what pops up in your mind, there is probably someone already doing it. This does not mean, however, that all the World’s problems are solved. In fact, competitors offering a product that is similar to yours don’t make you less likely to be successful. What entrepreneurs need to keep in mind is a problem-solving paradigm. How will your product solve the problems of your customers in a way that your competition does not? How will you add value to them by addressing their needs?
What Zuckerberg teaches us in the quote above is that profits and revenues are a part of the game, but not the end goal. They need to exist because your business is not sustainable without them. However, if you focus on developing a solution, on succeeding in a meaningful way, you have to go beyond the monetary dimension and see your business as a real, valuable solution that your customers actually need.
6. Move Fast and Challenge Paradigms
When we start a business, we are aware of the necessary learning curve inherent to it. As time passes, however, we seem to develop a knowledge base of “things that work” and settle down around it, taking innovation and experimentation out of our routine.
Zuckerberg teaches us the opposite. Never settle down. Never stop moving. No matter how well your business is doing, there are always opportunities out there. There are always innovations you can implement, and there are always more efficient ways you can approach your current problems.
Moving fast and challenging paradigms requires a lot of courage, but so does creating a business in the first place. The very definition of an entrepreneur is that of someone who is always looking for innovative ways of solving real-world problems. Don’t slow down, or you face the risk of staying behind in this always faster-moving reality.
Steve Jobs: Redefine the Game
Last but not least, Steve Jobs. His legacy is so vast that, even six years after his death, his name is one of the most influential in the technology industry. Apple’s revenues are more than twice the revenues of Google, Amazon, or Microsoft. How has Steve Jobs built this huge empire? What can we learn from this genius?
7. Put Passion for What You Do above the Money You’ll Earn
This is the basic rule for redefining the game. If you focus on money, you are likely to end up copying your competition and trying to do the same thing just in a better way. Unfortunately, this will get you only so far. The true revolution comes from putting your heart into what you do. It comes from deeply believing that you can offer the solution your market is craving for. If you don’t believe in your business, how can you find the willpower to jump out of bed every morning to spend hours and hours on your company?
If you are focusing on the money, your motivation will oscillate together with your revenues. When they are high, your motivation will be high. When they are low, it will be low. A constant high-motivation state comes not from the financial dimension, but from a true emotional connection between you and the business you run.
8. Be the Best at Your Niche
Steve Jobs’ Apple products have one of the most loyal customer bases in the World. This is not simply by chance. The initial mission of Jobs was to be the best in his niche while still having a product that could be afforded by the target market.
The traditional business mindset sees “being the best” as developing expensive processes that lead to better products but that cannot be afforded by the majority of the market. While this approach is not entirely bad, it might lead to great inefficiency gaps. Working to be the best while still being affordable, on the other hand, involves developing a superior product and continuously improving processes to reach lower costs and lower prices.
Being the best allows you to naturally charge a premium for your product, but to internalize the full benefits you must improve your routines to avoid any money leakage.
As an entrepreneur, it is highly recommendable to observe all the lessons mentioned above. These great names of actuality give us extremely valuable lessons about common challenges faced by both new and existing businesses, so take some time to ponder what has been discussed in this article. Make sure to put a lot of effort into internalizing all the lessons discussed here, and we guarantee you will be very successful!