The entrepreneurial career path is one of many peaks and valleys -- just ask Elon Musk. He has had his share of both, which comes with the territory when running three companies as the CEO.
If you are an entrepreneur, you likely have found a market, or niche within a market, you see as being ripe for disruption. You have your idea, product, and business model all mapped out. All you need now, like Musk did, is customers and investors to help get it off the ground (pardon the SpaceX pun). So, where do you start?
Start with yourself -- and Musk is a great example of how to do it.
As the founder and CEO of a company, your personal brand is as important as the company you created. Your company is something you truly believe in -- something you obviously want to see succeed -- that will change the world for the better. And in order for customers and investors to believe in your company, they also need to be able to believe in you.
Let's dive further into how Musk has been able to accomplish this.
There is no question that Musk has turned his passion of reducing global warming through sustainable energy technologies into a career as an entrepreneur. Take a look at the companies he has created: SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity to name a few. Each have a goal that lines up with Musk's passion in life.
Finding what you're passionate about and being able to turn it into a career is something investors and customers are able to feel. This will draw people in who want to get involved, whether financially by investing or by purchasing your product. When looking at potential companies to join one of Techstars accelerator programs, passion is something we always look for in founders.
Throughout his career, Musk has experienced many failures. He recently talked about the early days at SpaceX and how close the company was to failing. This didn't stop him from continuing to take risks before ultimately finding his break to turn the company into a success. And now SpaceX is one of the more popular companies to talk about today. Even with Tesla, Musk has had bumps in the road, but again, the company is leading the charge in bringing electric vehicles to the forefront of the automotive industry.
The founders who are able to take risks, experience failure, and still push forward to achieve success are the founders others are able to believe in and want to support. If you find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place keep pushing because you never know what will happen next.
To me, this is the biggest trait Musk has been able to earn throughout his network of employees, investors, and customers. One example stands out to me the most when I think of how Musk has earned trust and it happened on Twitter.
At the end of 2017, Musk thanked everyone worldwide who owns a Tesla and acknowledged the hard work his team has put into creating Tesla vehicles, but then he asked a crucial question: "How can we improve further?"
This question allowed his network access to provide direct feedback on how his company can further satisfy customers and even took it a step further to respond to suggestions, acknowledging a few that will be implemented into future updates from Tesla. He has used social media to increase transparency of what is happening at his companies and also take customer feedback in order to improve.
For all the founders out there working to get their company off the ground, try to remember that you not only have to build your company brand, you also need to build your own brand. Because at the end of the day, people not only invest or buy from companies they like, but also people they like.