What you need to lead the market

There are a few entrepreneurs who seem to always be ahead of the rest, and are able to sense where the market is going tomorrow. Investors call this the ability to “see around the next technology corner,” and race to invest in these individuals.

Elon Musk seems to be highest on this list these days, with his record setting orders for the Tesla Model 3 electric car, as well as his groundbreaking progress on SpaceX and Solar City. James Dyson and Richard Branson are other popular examples.

Most investors probably have one or two more favourites, but their list is always short. So what key attributes do entrepreneurs need to get on the list?

  1. Dominating presence without the arrogance. These entrepreneurs are outspoken and opinionated, but not afraid to put their money where their mouth is. Steve Jobs never denied his failures, but didn’t hesitate to risk it all on a next turn of technology from computers to consumer products.
  2. Exhibit “superhuman” energy and focus. According to many, Elon Musk has worked for 100 hours a week for more than 15 years, with incredible productivity. Richard Branson’s adventurer escapades are legendary, while at the same time founding over 400 companies.
  3. Good at business, but driven by making the world a better place. Too many entrepreneurs that are driven by good social causes forget that they have to make money to deliver on their vision for the long term. Maintaining that balance between doing good and doing business is a key to success.
  4. Build relationships with the best of the best. Lone scientists may uncover some great technology, but a team is required to build a solution and bring it to market. That team has to cover the range from top designers, savvy financial managers, to good marketing and sales leaders. Leaders make a team greater than the sum of the parts.
  5. Enjoy continuous learning from “stretch” experiments. These entrepreneurs are self-learners, having long ago foregone the conventional learning vehicles of schools, consultants, and incremental improvements. They challenge themselves and their hand picked team to “impossible” tasks, like reusable rockets, or a computer in a wristwatch.
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