Elon Musk: 5 Investing Mistakes That Even Billionaires Regret

Billionaire Elon Musk has made some mistakes in his career. Some would count the purchase of Twitter — and subsequent renaming of the beloved platform as “X,” as one of his biggest. His frequent social media rants, ignoring Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations and smoking a joint live on a podcast also rank up there with potential mistakes the richest man in the world may (or may not) regret.

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Many of these actions shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s followed Musk throughout his career. After all, during his May 2021 monologue on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Musk said, “I re-invented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars in a rocket ship. Did you also think I was gonna be a chill, normal dude?”

That said, despite his many faux pas, brushes with legal action and impulsive behaviors, there are some things you can learn from Musk, including which investment strategies and regrets to avoid.

1. Don’t Settle for Sub-Par Products

The Tesla Roadster fell short of expectations in the company’s earlier years, prompting BBC broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson to describe it as “a poorly-run science project,” according to in.investing.com.

It’s never a good idea to invest in companies that manufacture sub-par products. Tesla stock took a dive following the launch and nearly went bankrupt.

However, those who invested in Tesla’s earlier years, when the IPO launched at $17 per share, would be sitting pretty today. If you invested $10,000 during the IPO and held tight through ups, downs, and two splits, you’d have an investment of roughly $1.7 million (at $194 per share) today.

That’s largely because Musk learned from his mistakes and went on to create EVs of the highest quality and continues to innovate in the industry.

2. Don’t Avoid Taking Chances

Investing in Tesla back then was a tremendous risk. Yet one of Musk’s favorite and most famous quotes offers a bit of investing advice that applies to the situation:

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

Musk believes that saving the planet — and escaping the planet via SpaceX — are both important enough to risk it all. Taking calculated risks in investing, especially when it’s a company you believe in, can pay off.

3. Don’t Ignore the Risks

Of course, rather than flailing blindly into any investment that sounds exciting, you also want to understand the risks you’re taking — whether that might be with your money or your life. In 2018, Musk said in an Axios interview that he forecasted he had a 70% chance of going to Mars on one of his SpaceX rockets.

Denying that Mars would be a retreat for the wealthy, he added, “Your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than Earth.”

Musk knows the risks, and, to him, they are worth the chance for future generations to colonize space.

4. Never Invest in an Industry You Don’t Understand

Musk has been studying space and rockets since his younger days, when he became captivated by science fiction. When he says he believes his rockets can take humanity to Mars, his declarations are grounded in knowledge, study and business experience.

When SpaceX delivered astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020, it was the first time since the last shuttle launch in 2011 that humans entered orbit in an American-built spacecraft. It was also the first time in history NASA astronauts launched from U.S. soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft.

Yet, when Musk purchased Twitter, the company dropped in value by $25 billion, taking Musk-owned Tesla along with it in a nosedive that caused the EV manufacturer’s stock price to drop 23%.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has said, “Never invest in a business you cannot understand.”

Musk might do well to heed that advice, especially considering how many times his Tweets have landed him in hot water.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Test, Fail, Repeat.

If there’s one thing Musk isn’t afraid of, it’s failure. Perhaps that’s one reason his business history is fraught with mistakes to learn from. He is always pushing the envelope on what he believes is possible.

“Failure is an option here,” he has said about SpaceX. “If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

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With that in mind, the biggest mistake any investor can make is not learning from their mistakes. Of course, you should always understand your risk tolerance and never invest more than you can lose. But you can always learn from past failures, no matter how low or high the stakes are.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Elon Musk: 5 Investing Mistakes That Even Billionaires Regret

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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