There’s a difference, and one cannot utter the words founder, owner, businessperson, and entrepreneur in the same breath. Why do we say this? That’s because every person who runs a business – small or large – is definitely the owner or founder. But that same person is also an entrepreneur depends on various factors. For example, did that person enter into a business that already had several participants? Does the business represent an already established sector of the economy? If yes, then the person cannot be genuinely termed as an entrepreneur. Confused? Let’s understand this with an example.
Elon Musk’s Journey
And who can be better in this respect than Elon Musk?
Yes, the person who has courted controversies with his tweets and videos is also the brain behind many ventures that truly disrupted the conventional market. Not many people know that he was born in and spent his initial years in South Africa. What makes Musk the perfect embodiment of entrepreneurial spirit is his quest for being inventive. Did you know Musk developed a code for a video game even before entering teenage and sold it for USD 500? Amazing. Isn’t it??. How many people achieve this feat? Not only this, Musk is a self-taught computer programmer, and bullying by other children did not deter him from attaining hitherto-unattained feats.
When the world was spending dollars to buy fossil fuel from the Middle East to power the fleet of vehicles run on internal combustion engines, Musk had other plans in his mind. But even before this, the man had been instrumental in developing electronic money transfer service PayPal. Yes, Musk was a co-founder with another online financial services company, X.com, which was merged with the company that owned PayPal. But until then, PayPal wasn’t the phenomenon that it became after Musk was involved in its development. Subsequently, when eBay purchased PayPal at a whopping valuation of USD 1.5 billion, Musk was its largest shareholder.
This was followed by another disruption, and this time, Musk shook the space exploration sector. What did he do? He founded SpaceX, a company that makes space launch vehicles. Today, SpaceX is a dominant force in the production of rocket engines. SpaceX has even partnered with the world’s leading space exploration organization, NASA. Did you know it was Musk who thought of reusing rockets after the mission, and in 2015 he demonstrated this feat by landing the rocket back at where it was launched from? And hence, a new chapter in the reusability of space vehicles was written. Elon Musk is also the man who is envisioning, sending humans to Mars and developing a colony on the surface of this planet.
What else? The company that Musk is most popularly known for is Tesla. A manufacturer of pure electric vehicles, Tesla, is now a name to reckon within the field of electric mobility. While many believe that Musk founded or co-founded Tesla, this is not entirely true. In fact, the company was founded by two other people who were later joined by Musk as the company’s Chairman. This was in the year 2004. He eventually became the CEO and chief architect in 2008. The first electric sports car was built by Tesla in the same year, and this was followed by many other luxury e-vehicles. Musk once quoted that he wanted to develop and sell expensive cars in the initial run to earn profits and deploy it to develop affordable electric vehicles.
Although electric vehicles are the talk of the town today and their progress is threatening the might of crude oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and UAE, this wasn’t the case when Tesla foresaw a green future. One can even say that Tesla was the first-mover in this space, and at a time when the world was skeptical over the long-term success of cars run on lithium batteries, Tesla partnered with Panasonic and churned out products that were welcomed in European countries. Yes, it is true that Tesla had to struggle with high overheads and production bottlenecks in its initial years, a time when many experts said that the company could eventually fail.
Today, however, Tesla has been able to post quarterly profit but is yet to have a complete full year of being a profitable company. This, however, hasn’t deterred investors from pouring money in Tesla’s stock, which lately surged nearly 320 percent as compared to levels in June last year.
The story of Elon Musk is a spot on the journey of entrepreneurship. He readily entered new fields and, despite all the challenges and skepticism, turned the venture into a formidable market force. That’s the difference between an owner and an entrepreneur. Musk is a true entrepreneur, and his professional journey is a lesson for other aspirants.