PayPal co-founder Elon Musk is one of the most widely known and celebrated businessmen of the past decade. The South Africa native has a knack for delivering results in some very unlikely areas. I intend to share with you why I was simply gobsmacked after looking at his recent accomplishments.
Space exploration, electric cars, and solar energy are the perfect recipe for failure. All three industries have mountainous obstacles to overcome in order to achieve success. Yet, Elon Musk is succeeding in all three. Why does this man succeed, and why should you care?
Space Exploration — Set insane goals
Elon Musk started SpaceX in 2002. Ten years later, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft made history by being the first privately-built spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station. The company now has contracts in place with NASA, the Air Force, and the Defense Department. This has led SpaceX to be the first space exploration company to ever make money.
Musk has done this by setting his goals very high. The goal for SpaceX is not to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, but rather to profit from a permanent 80,000 person settlement on Mars. To even write that last sentence makes me feel as though I’m describing the whims of a lunatic. But this insane goal has guided SpaceX to the very front of the private space company pack.
Musk has downplayed all rumors of a SpaceX IPO anytime soon. Bummer.
Electric Cars — Offer a superior product
Musk founded Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) in 2003. This company also made history ten years after its founding by announcing its first profit, sending shares soaring 100% in a week and 180% over the last year.
Tesla more than doubled its annual revenue in 2012, but perhaps it’s not fair to compare Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s growth to established players like Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) since it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect them to grow revenue over 100% a year like Tesla. Rather than comparing Tesla to competitors, we should be addressing exactly how it was able to accomplish this growth.
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has out-engineered The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). Boeing experienced a disaster when a lithium-ion battery from one of its 787 Dreamliners caught fire and in so doing, grounded all 787 flights for nearly five months. Tesla also uses lithium-ion batteries, but of a completely different design. The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)‘s batteries are composed of 8 cells, while Tesla’s have thousands of smaller isolated cells specifically designed to prevent a “domino effect” — the effect that caused Boeing’s battery to blow up.