Elon Musk is an entrepreneur, engineer and an inventor. Companies Elon has started include PayPal, SolarCity, SpaceX, Tesla Motors and Zip2. He is currently the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

It is pretty remarkable that one individual has been able to found and build multiple companies that are both innovative and disruptive in four radically different industries -Online Payment(PayPal) Space Aviation (SpaceX), Cars (Tesla) and Solar Power (Solar City). Elon’s net worth is US$12 billion as of February 2015 (according to Forbes). He is one of the most influential entrepreneurs of the 21st century.

Via Hangout, Elon Shared these insights on starting a business with Inc.com

1. “I would definitely not recommend trying to create two companies at once as sort of happened with SpaceX and Tesla. … It’s too much. I’d really strongly recommend someone to just focus on one company and throw as many hours at it as you possibly can. Really work morning to night. Think about it in your sleep. Seven days a week. No breaks. That’s what you should do when you are starting a company.” 

2. “Take as much feedback from as many people as you can about whatever idea you have. … Seek critical feedback. Ask them what’s wrong. You often have to draw it out in a nuanced way to figure out what’s wrong.” 

3. “The very difficult time is usually shortly after the beginning, actually. When you first start the company, things seem optimistic and rosy and exciting. I think for the first six months to one year, things seem pretty good and then things start to go wrong.

At least that’s been my experience. And you make mistakes, you encounter issues you didn’t expect, you step on land mines … it’s just bad. Years two through five are usually quite difficult. You’ve got to be prepared to do whatever it takes, work whatever hours. No task is too menial. I think, that’s the right attitude for CEO of a start-up.” 

Elon expects aspiring entrepreneurs to put in the extra work to succeed. Musk says that it’s important that aspiring entrepreneurs know how hard it is to run a business. In an interview he said:

4. “Starting a company is a very tough thing. There’s a friend of mine, Bill Lee, whose phrase is ‘starting a company is like staring into the abyss and eating glass.’ So you should certainly expect that it’s going to be very hard. It’s going to be harder than getting a job somewhere by a pretty good margin and the odds of you losing the money that you invested or your friends invested is pretty high.

I mean, those are just the basic facts. So if you don’t mind things being really hard and high risk, then starting a company is a good idea. Otherwise, it’s probably unwise. It will certainly stress you out. So I think you have to be pretty driven to make it happen. Otherwise, you will just make yourself miserable.

You can only increase your chances of success if you first focus on something or a product that has a real value and solves a problem. To improve your odds of success, Elon says:

5. “Focus on something that has high value to someone else, be really rigorous in making that assessment, because natural human tendency is wishful thinking, so the challenge to entrepreneurs is telling what’s the difference between really believing in your ideals and sticking to them as opposed to pursuing some unrealistic dream that doesn’t actually have merit. Be very rigorous in your self analysis, certainly be extremely tenacious, and just work like hell. Put in 80-100 hours every week. All these things improves the odds of success.”

“If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” Elon quote.

Self improvement is the process, or set of processes, habits or actions that makes you a better person and helps you achieve you goals in life and business.

On self-improvement, Elon has this to say.

6. “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

On traits that propels him to be a successful entrepreneur, He explains:

7. “Accurate self analysis. It’s difficult to do so, since you’re too close to yourself by definition. People do not think critically enough. People  assume too many things to be true without sufficient basis in that  belief, it’s very important that people closely analyze what is supposed  to be true, and build it up, analyze things by the first principles, not by analogy or convention, which is actually what most people do,  that makes it difficult to gain insight as to how things can be  bettered.

In any argument or train of thinking, you want to make sure  that the underlying premises are valid and applicable, and how the  conclusion reached is necessarily driven by the underlying premises and  the interconnection between those premises. It’s the foundation of  rational thought.

According to Elon, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” Innovation is a new idea, device or process. Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs.

On encouraging innovation, he once said:

8. “I think it’s really a mindset. You have to decide. We’re going to try to do things differently. Well, provided that they’re better. You shouldn’t do things differently just because they’re different. They need to be different or better. But I think you have to sort of decide.

Let’s think beyond the normal stuff and have an environment where that sort of thinking in encouraged and rewarded and where it’s okay to fail as well. Because when you try new things, you try this idea, that idea….well a large number of them are not gonna work, and that has to be okay. If every time somebody comes up with an idea it has to be successful, you’re not gonna get people coming up with ideas.”

“Get to a useful prototype with the least amount of money is probably a good idea….if people see actual hardware and it’s working, that is much more convincing [than PowerPoint, a website, etc].”

Image courtesy Alex Wong / Getty Images