If anyone knows about taking the road less traveled, it'sElon Musk. Or in the case of his latest venture, going 40 stories below ground. While everyone else has been talking about flying cars for decades, Musk is working to zoom cars beneath our roadways at mach speed.
This is far from the first time Musk has shocked the public; between electrification of vehicles,solar power and space exploration, he's transformed multiple industries time and time again. Here are 5 lessons I've learned about business from an innovator, a visionary and a true entrepreneur.
1. Don't Be Afraid to Fail
In fact, Musk has probably failed as much as he's succeeded:Paypal was once called one of the worst business ideas ever; he almost bankrupted Tesla and SpaceX; and when it comes to Tesla, he knew going in that failure was a probable outcome. But even though he called the venture "idiocy squared", he went for it anyway.
In 1999, my idea to franchise a junk removal service was met with similar doubt. My mentors all gave me the same response: that a junk removal business couldn't be franchised. But I believed in our capacity for grand-scale growth and now, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is the largest company of its kind in the world.
Sometimes all it takes is a little (or a lot) of guts to make the impossible, possible.
2. The Road to Success is Long. Be Patient
Saving the world doesn't happen overnight. It took a full decade for Tesla to complete the first phase of its master plan.SpaceX failed its first rocket launch in 2006 -- and was still failing in 2016.
It took us over 20 years to launch a second brand (and several more for our third and fourth). After the success of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we considered branching out many times. But we wanted to perfect our systems before expanding, and to find an industry that would complement our existing business.
It's a good thing we waited: the idea for WOW 1 DAY PAINTING only came to us when I needed to paint my own house. I hired a company that promised to deliver on a one-day promise. They did, and we realized we'd struck gold with a new, scalable business.
3. Always Stay True to Your Vision (Even If No One Else Can See It)
Whether it's ametropolis on Mars or an electric vehicle that outpaces the fastest sports car, Musk's vision remains the same: for the world to transition to sustainable energy. Everything his companies say and do is geared towards making this happen.
Where most see logistical problems and never-ending obstacles, Musk is avisionary who sees the end game first. He's not concerned with how to get there; he's focused on where he's going. And considering how far he's come, he's a testament to the power of visualization to bring your goals to fruition.
Five years ago, I updated our Painted Picture (our company vision) and set a larger-than-life goal: to double our revenue in the next four years. Not only did we reach our goal -- we blew it out of the water. We're now headed towards another double, and with our Painted Picture to guide us, I have no doubt we'll get there.
4. Don't Take 'No' For An Answer
Musk hasn't colonized Mars or converted the world to solar power -- yet. But he certainly won't let anyone stop him from trying because he doesn't believe in 'impossible'. He's relentless in his pursuit of realizing his goals, no matter how many naysayers he comes up against.
I can empathize with the drive to prove people wrong. When someone tells me I can't do something, it doesn't deter me; it pushes me to work harder (and smarter). Think of a world where people gave up every time someone told them "no": no electricity, no airplanes, no cell phones.
Persistence is actually the only reason we even got our name: I branded the company (trucks and all) before we had the phone number. It belonged to the Idaho Department of Transportation and I had to call 59 times before they agreed to release it to us!
5. When Everyone Is Going Right, Go Left
Visionary entrepreneurs throw out the status quo and look at everything through a different lens. They think purposefully about how to make the world better, and challenge the perspective of what we thought was possible.
I've never been one to follow along with what everyone else is doing. If people are going one way, I instinctively want to go another. It'sa trait I share with many entrepreneurs; we believe you have to break things before you can rebuild them.
Musk's tunnel network isn't an outlandishly new idea; we've used tunnels for trains for hundreds of years. But while everyone was looking to put cars in the sky, he decided to look down (literally) and he gained a perspective that could change everything. He's living proof that you don't need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to re-engineer how things are done. That's the mark of a true entrepreneur.