Elon Musk Quotes on Business

1. “The thing to remember is that when companies are little, they’re like tadpoles. I mean, they just die very easily. You need to have an environment that tries to protect little companies and help them get bigger. Silicon Valley does that very well and America, in general, does that very well a lot of the time compared to other countries. Most other countries tend to foster and protect the big companies. Big companies don’t need protection.”
– Musk’s speech at the National Press Club

2. “If you’re building a company, you’ve got to gather great people. I mean, all a company is is a group of people that have gathered together to create a product or service. So depending upon how talented and hardworking that group is, and to the degree in which they are focused cohesively in a good direction, that will determine the success of the company. So, do everything you can to gather great people, if you’re creating a company.”
– Musk’s commencement speech at the University of Southern California

3. “I think it’s important to take feedback from your environment. You want to be as closed-loop as possible. If we hadn’t responded to what people said, then we probably would not have been successful. So, it’s important to look for things like that and focus on them when you see them, and you correct your prior assumptions.”
– Musk’s commencement speech at Caltech

4. “In general, people want to do the right thing and they want to do what’s good. The issue we have right now is that the rules fundamentally favor the bad outcome. When you’re fighting for the good outcome and it’s an uphill battle, it’s just slower. It’s just crazy to have the rules of the game favor a bad outcome.”
– Musk’s speech at Paris-Sorbonne University

5. “I’m not sure looking at competitors really helps. It’s sort of like the old adage with running. If you start looking at the other runners, it’s not good, you know.”
– Conversation with Kara Swisher, host of “Recode Decode”

6. “I read a lot of books and talked to lots of people. I didn’t have any one person who was a mentor, but I always looked for feedback from the people around me and feedback from the historical context, which is books, basically. I don’t read many general business books. I like to read biographies or autobiographies. I think those are pretty helpful, and a lot are not really business.”
– Conversation with Kevin Rose, an internet entrepreneur

7. “Starting a business is not for everyone. Generally, starting a business, I’d say, No. 1 is to have a high pain threshold. When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and things are great. Happiness at first is high, then you encounter all sorts of issues and happiness will steadily decline, and then you will go through a whole world of hurt, and then eventually, if you succeed—and in most cases, you will not succeed—if you succeed then, after a long time, you will finally get back to happiness.”

8. “In order to make the right decisions, you have to understand something. If you don’t understand something at a detailed level, you cannot make a decision.”
– Conversation with Jonathan Nolan, creator of HBO’s “Westworld”

9. “Great companies are built on great products. When the product starts to become shoddy and uncompetitive, so does the company.”
– Conversation with John Paul MacDuffie, professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania