How Did Elon Musk Make $14 Billion In a Week?

By James Mills, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

In the first week of April 2016, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors celebrated the launch of its Model 3 electric car. This wasn't just any product launch - this was the biggest 1-week product launch of all time! Equating to $14 billion in sales! What's even more remarkable is that there was no advertising or paid endorsements. So how did Elon Musk achieve this?

A Compelling Vision

"When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour." - Elon Musk

Elon Musk has a burning desire to address the issue of climate change through developing sustainable transportation. His desire is so strong, that he couldn't wait for governments and car companies to act with the form of urgency he saw was required. The odds were that he might not have succeeded, as he did not start Tesla Motors in order to make money!

A 3-Stage Master Plan

It's not enough just to have a vision - it needs to be backed up by a clear strategy, so back in August 2006 he publicly shared his master plan on the Tesla Motors blog...

"Our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution."

- Elon Musk, Tesla Motors Website, 2nd August 2006

There was plenty of wisdom and simplicity behind this plan which essentially involved 3 phases and has taken close to 10 years to reach.

"Build sports car

Use that money to build an affordable car

Use that money to build an even more affordable car

While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Don't tell anyone."

Short-Term Sacrifices For Long-Term Success

Here's a short video summary of how he did it...

Elon Musk & the Tesla Model 3

In 2008 Elon Musk's electric car company, Tesla, was on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite facing new critics and delays daily, Elon put his remaining funds into Tesla and said "I had to borrow money to pay rent". In the last seven days, Tesla's launch of the Model 3 has become the biggest product launch of any product in the world ever, with $14 billion in pre-orders. What made Elon persevere through the tough times to get to today?

Posted by Roger James Hamilton on Friday, April 8, 2016


It has been because of his vision and master plan that Elon Musk has been able to overcome significant challenges, including near-bankruptcy in 2008. This was a time where he invested everything he had, and this meant he had to borrow money to pay his rent! He made significant short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term success, because he knows just how important it is to address the issue of climate change.

There is an incredible amount we can learn from Elon Musk's success, and then apply to our own lives, as his journey does raise a few questions.

How prepared are you to fully invest in your dreams? How much do you back your ability to make these dreams happen? How willing are you to delay gratification in order to achieve long-term success? What impact will your success have on others?

Elon Musk saw the bigger picture, and through focusing on the greater good has achieved world-class success.

    What global challenge would you like to solve through business?

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