When it comes to entrepreneurs, Elon Musk is at the top of the list of the most impressive. After making his first software sale at the age of 12, he went on to found PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, all of which are inspirational companies for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) around the world.
As a result, Musk has plenty of lessons in business to impart to those running their own companies, helping them to build on his experiences. Here are some of his best business lessons that could be worth keeping in mind:
1. You need to be prepared to work
It seems like this should go without saying, but Musk has highlighted the importance of knowing that starting a company will mean you need to work longer and harder than if you were working for someone else. Having the motivation to build a business isn't enough, you need to be prepared to keep it going.
But it isn't just the day-to-day running of a company that can be hard, changes in the economy or in your sector can make it even more difficult. While you can't plan for everything, extra work to prepare for different eventualities is important.
2. Have a strategy
The ability to strategize is vital in business, according to Musk. A large part of succeeding is being able to offer something new and innovative, which requires a solid strategy to come up with, create, market and sell.
This isn't about being single-minded, though. It can be that something better comes out of your original plans, in which case you need to be able to move your focus onto the new idea, develop it and work out what is the best option for your company through a data-driven strategy.
Not only does your thinking need to be right to achieve this, you also need the best people at the ready to make it happen, so consider the ability to strategize when it comes to recruitment.
3. Dare to be different
It may be easier to succeed using an idea that someone else came up with first, but being different can lead to a whole new level of success, as shown through Musk's development of PayPal and Tesla. While you can work on an idea that already exists, challenging it and creating something new and innovative will help to put a company on the map and deliver an improved product or service.
This means, break an idea down and build it up in a different way that offers a better solution. While this will keep you in the same business sector, it will also set you apart from competitors.
4. Don't hide from criticism
It's a natural human response to hide from criticism, but it is incredibly beneficial to face it head-on, especially when it comes to business practices. Criticism helps highlight areas where you can make improvements, show what isn't working and help encourage you to rethink your approach, all of which can lead to better results.
Getting honest opinions can be the difference between a successful product or service and one that fails to deliver in line with your expectations. So don't shy away from criticism.