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6 Lessons From Elon Musk About Breaking Into a New Industry

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about startups, entrepreneurship, content marketing and branding for a number of publishers including Convince and Convert, and The Daily Muse. To read more posts by Kayla, check out her blog
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Elon Musk seems to be everywhere these days. From pushing for space travel to developing a self-driving vehicle, the CEO and co-founder of Tesla is a busy guy.

But while Musk might not be a typical entrepreneur, he’s definitely shown he’s capable of adapting to different environments and industries—something important to the success of any growing business owner.

Many entrepreneurs aspire to be like Musk. Although you might not be planning a trip to space, there are a few things you can learn and implement into your daily life to be more like Musk, who also founded spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX.

Let’s take a look at a few lessons Elon Musk can teach you about entering a new industry.

1. Focus on the Problem—Not the Money

As an entrepreneur, you probably are looking for the break that will turn you into a millionaire. But when you’re trying to get into a new industry, only focusing on what makes you money will hurt you. According to Musk, you need to think about the user’s problems and how you can solve them.

If you think you have a great business idea, think about who you can help and how you’ll make their life easier—not how much money you’ll make. When there is true value behind your business idea, you’ll be more prosperous.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Failure

Failure can be scary, especially when you’ve already invested money in a project. But failure doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your project. Musk recognizes failure as a natural part of the learning process. In fact, he believes that failure is a sign of innovation. If you’re not failing, it may be because you’re playing it safe.

As an entrepreneur, you might fear failing at the business you’re trying to create. But being scared of taking chances or not putting yourself out there can actually be worse than failing. If you’re going to create your company, give it your all—even if it doesn’t work out in the end. At least you can walk away knowing you tried.

3. Create a Plan

Although we never hope to fail, knowing what to do if you don’t succeed is important. While in the process of launching SpaceX, he committed to making three tries and setting a budget before he’d allow himself to give up. By creating these strict boundaries for himself, he avoided wasting time, money, or resources on a project if it wouldn’t work. Luckily for Musk, SpaceX had a successful launch on the third try.

Creating a similar plan for your own business can help you stay focused and on track. If you create an endpoint for your business, you’ll know when it’s time to move onto the next problem. To help create an efficient plan for your company, you may want to visualize your data, which can help business owners make better decisions.

4. Push the Boundaries

Part of the reason Elon Musk is so successful is that he takes risks and welcomes challenges. While many other entrepreneurs are going after fast success, Musk is focusing on the long run. He puts the proper investment and development into his companies to build serious growth. But this means he can’t go after the low-hanging fruit of what is popular today. Instead, he pushes the boundaries.

Entrepreneurs frequently try to discover “the next best thing.” While this can bring serious returns in the short term, if the plan isn’t well thought out, it can come crashing down around you once the fad is over. When trying to move into a new industry, really take the time to consider whether it’s right for you. If you’re only after short-term gains, you might want to rethink your decision.

5. Allow Your Goals to Grow

Musk doesn’t bite off more than he can chew. He properly calculates what he can achieve and in what timeframe, allowing him to develop his goals when he’s ready to move to the next one. When he created Tesla, he started out with a few small goals. Once those were achieved, he added some more. Now, he’s expanding that business to take on additional industries.

When deciding what new industries to take on, start out slowly. If you jump in too quickly, you could find that you’re in over your head. By taking a page out of Musk’s book, you can ease your way in, create a name for yourself, and then expand to different areas when you have the experience and the credibility to truly flourish.

6. Stay True to Yourself

Musk has always been a strong supporter of renewable energy sources. Although he has companies in various industries, he still centers around the idea of moving the world toward more renewable energy sources. He could have given this idea up years ago for a project that would make him even more money, but he didn’t. Throughout the many industry shifts and new project developments, Musk didn’t lose sight of who he was.

When you’re looking to grow your business, it’s important you stay authentic to who you are and what you value. As you take on new projects, consider your overall brand and whether they mesh with your ideals. If you find you’re simply taking on a project for the monetary benefits, you might want to rethink it. While money is important, so is authenticity.


There are many lessons to learn from Elon Musk and the way he has grown and developed his many businesses, but one of the most impressive things about him is the way he can shift from industry to industry and still find success.

However, he doesn’t get there by luck. He thinks through his decisions, properly plans, and finds areas that are important to him and can help customers and clients.

If you’re an entrepreneur hoping to be more like Musk, consider these tips when changing industries. With the right mindset, plan and goals, you can become a successful entrepreneur, too.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about startups, entrepreneurship, content marketing and branding for a number of publishers including Convince and Convert, and The Daily Muse. To read more posts by Kayla, check out her blog