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Elon Musk's secrets to business success

1. It isn't about the money

This is absolutely central to Elon Musk's attitude to business. He said he didn't know how rich he was.

"It's not as if there is a pile of cash somewhere,"" he said. "It's really just that I have a certain number of votes in Tesla, and SpaceX, and SolarCity, and the marketplace has value on those votes.""

He doesn't have anything against the pursuit of wealth ""if it's done in sort of an ethical and good manner"", but said it just isn't what drives him.

2. Pursue your passions

That Mars base is a clue to what Elon Musk believes is the key to success.

"You want things in the future to be better,"". ""You want these new exciting things that make life better."

Take SpaceX. He set the company up because he was frustrated the US space programme wasn't more ambitious.

"I kept expecting us to advance beyond Earth, and to put a person on Mars, and have a base on the moon, and have, you know, very frequent flights to orbit," he said.

When that didn't happen, he came up with the idea for the "Mars Oasis Mission", which aimed to send a small greenhouse to the red planet.

It was while he was trying to get that off the ground he realised the problem wasn't "a lack of will, but rather a lack of way" - space technology was far more expensive than it needed to be.

Et voila! The world's cheapest rocket-launching business was born.


3. Don't be afraid to think big

One of the really striking things about Elon Musk's businesses is how audacious they are. He wants to revolutionise the car industry, colonise Mars, build super-fast trains in vacuum tunnels, integrate AI into human brains and upend the solar power and battery industries.

Which brings us to Musk's third business tip - don't hold back.

He believes low ambition is baked into most companies' incentive structures. Too many companies are "incrementalist", he said.

So, his advice is to make sure you are working on what he calls ""stuff that's going to matter".