8 February 2018

elon musk space x launch

Image from the Falcon Heavy – from @elonmusk

How many times do you hear the phrase ‘thinking outside of the box’? It’s such an overused phrase that it is now often seen as a cringe-inducing cliché. But, there isn’t really another phrase that can describe the trait that you need as an entrepreneur.

Thinking differently about the world. Looking for problems to solve. Working out how we can do things better. These are all qualities that are essential to being a successful entrepreneur.

An essential quality

It’s a quality we see throughout the business arena and particularly in a man who hit the headlines this week. On Tuesday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy – the most powerful operational rocket in the world “by a factor of two”. The rocket, complete with a cherry red Tesla and a radio playing Bowie’s Space Oddity, successfully blasted into space aiming for Mars.

Also this week, his car firm Tesla announced a loss of $674.5m in the three months ending December 2017 (compared with a loss of $121m the same period the previous year).

Two big pieces of news – one huge advancement and one seemingly concerning figure.

It sounds like a huge loss. But, Tesla has a waiting list of half a million waiting for the new Model 3. They’re investing heavily in creating the new generation of electric cars with self-driving capabilities.

To deliver these promises, Musk is in line for a bonus of $55.8bn (£40bn) if he can grow Tesla into a $650bn business in the next decade. Whilst doing that, Musk has agreed to work for free for the next ten years.

It’s clear that Elon Musk does things differently.

Listening to an interview he did with TED early last year, it is fascinating to hear his approach to The Boring Company. The company, which is literally boring holes into the ground beneath LA, has the potential to revolutionise travel in the US. The business is testing the concept of a 3D tunnel network beneath America where cars travel on ‘electric skates’ at speeds of up to 130mph.

Whilst most predictions of the future suggest that we’ll reduce road congestion with flying cars, Musk describes how flying cars are not anxiety reducing. You can go significantly further underground that you can build above ground, so that’s his aim. Driving underground.

He is fascinating to listen to. This penchant for identifying a problem and tackling it is extraordinary. These are all qualities that stand you in incredible stead in business. Instead of accepting the status quo, the way things have always been done, you question and evaluate how you can do it better.

I’d love to hear how you’ve creating a success by thinking differently, let me know in the comments below.

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