Lessons from Elon Musk: How To Compete and Stay Ahead

Business.com / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Elon Musk views competition as a way to come up with new solutions to solve problems. Apply his method to your business with these tips.

Competition is all around these days but people like Elon Musk the creator of PayPal view that as a way to come up with new solutions to solve diverse problems.

Keeping ahead of the curve is no easy task but when done properly and with the right techniques, it can be done.


Being the first company to do something, such as implementing and creating a new method to securely transfer money using an email address; Also known as PayPal, comes with its own risk and rewards.

PayPal’s journey to the top and its eventual acquisition by eBay came after many iterations such as: a name change, a merger, and a change in direction from being a company that developed security software for handheld devices (Confinity) and an online banking system (X.com), to consequentially coming together and then shifting their focus to one main product, which is PayPal.

Having the ability to shift focus and strategize for what’s best for your company, even if it requires shifting the focus to only one product can be a considerable feat in the long run.

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Create a Plan

Making a plan can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Some such as PayPal’s founder have changed the world and are continuing to find ways to do so. Being it by making a new online payment system, building electric cars and soon driverless cars, or even by creating technologies to send people to Mars in under one year; There are those who plan big and then initiate their plans.

Initiate Your Plan

Implementing your plans can be detailed and very lengthy, requiring many hours. If you have a passion for your plans, then it can be a fulfilling undertaking. PayPal’s founder constantly has worked 100-hour work weeks and instead of retiring after his many successes, has kept on going. Creating improvements along the way.

When needed, shifting to a greater cause such as new advancements and things you have only dreamed of before, can even become a reality with the right effort.

Keep Ahead

By keeping ahead of the competition, you can create a substantial advantage. Such as the Tesla, which is also founded by PayPal’s founder, who has been streamlining the way for electric cars which are available now, and driverless cars set to be released in the near future as well.

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Seek solutions everywhere. Elon Musk conceptualized SolarCity, which is now one of his present companies, at a festival. Opportunities and solutions can present themselves anywhere so be sure to be open to them when they arise.

Break Barriers

Being the designer of the first privately developed rocket to successfully launch orbit into outer space, PayPal’s founder achieved the highest honor in air and space and has even started to plan the colonizing of Mars by 2025.

Along with this, has also came up with the idea of building a new traveling system, which will take an almost seven-hour trip and make it into a shorter 30-minute trip, cutting time by more than 75 percent, which is a phenomenal achievement and is currently in its development. Breaking barriers can lead to the improvement of not only your company but also to a substantially greater consumer base.


Improvising your company for greater efficiency, even if that means faster traveling time for meetings or by implementing a conferencing call system to save the company time, can create the boost your company needs to focus on other things and keep up with the changing technology being used at this time. The Hyperloop idea was initially conceptualized as a means to skip traffic, but when implemented, it will give the opportunity for faster long-distance traveling, which will be beneficial to an even wider audience in return.

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After PayPal’s acquisition of eBay for $1.5 billion shortly after IPO, PayPal’s founder has not only created vast improvements to technology as a whole but has created gateways to new technology that will possibly be the starting point to much advancement throughout the coming years.

Likewise with the right amount of foresight, businesses can improve in more than one region of structure even amongst competitors with similar success and also make beneficial advancements throughout years to come.

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