Like the smell of Musk
Posted on July 10, 2017
I must confess on the outset that I am a finite groupie of Elon Musk. As usual, his last five-year plan came to me deeply in the guts. His ambitions are divided into four:
- Create integrated solar roofs that can store battery power
- Expand the range of electric vehicle products to all major segments
- Developing a 10-fold safer autopilot for the automotive industry
- Allow your car to make money for you when you do not use it
It is ambitious, even insane. Considering that he practically realized his first vision, that of creating an electric car company (and building rockets at the same time with another company), I believe in his chances of succeeding the unthinkable again.
I am overwhelmed by the man (and I am not the only one), his aversion to risk and his impact on society make me feel like an amateur hockey player in front of Alex Kovalev. Inspired, I even expressed the desire to drop everything and go and offer my services to the Tesla cult, only to feed me with vision every day. Would I be competent enough to get into the financial ranks of the company and make me notice by its leader?
My partner made me realize that even if our impact as an entrepreneur is not that of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Guy Laliberté, we can always bring change to our circle of influence and it is not negligible. The next iteration will always be greater than the last one. The attraction of entering the furrow of exceptional beings is appealing, but perhaps inspiration is enough.
When I look at Elon Musk, I am even more convinced that successful entrepreneurs, those who are referred to as extraordinary visionaries, are all a little sick in their heads: acute narcissism, megalomania, borderline personality disorders, and so on. I go into his biography of Elon and I come back with a clinical diagnosis. If he is not mad, why then a contractor who has already won will hand over all his chips on the table to play again, again and again? Moreover, unlike the bettor, we do not speak of an impulsive gesture: it is a determined action, a faith in a vision to be renewed every day. Our company, Le Chiffre, has already accomplished a lot and we could certainly slow down and take advantage of our achievements, reduce the risk and live well our art. But is that enough? Why, then, is this sickly urgency that tarries us to accomplish more, to disturb otherwise? Maybe it’s a little crazy, too.
It is like this, in the shadow of the giants like Musk, that we come to have our own vision for the next 5 years:
Step 1: Create a firm that changes the Québec accounting landscape
Do not chuckle, especially if you are accountants. We fervently believe that the environment needs the figure. We are not the first to say that accounting deserves to be sexier, less off-putting. It is abnormal that only one type of person succeeds in the office and the rest want to leave as soon as possible to the company. The firm is the place where we should find the purest and advanced accounting, it should consequently attract talent, no matter its temperament. Accounting firms are multiplying initiatives to give their institutions glamor, which is very admirable. There is, however, a profound change, which must start with a cultural shake-up, which also involves managerial structures and different remuneration. We believe that Le Chiffre, who exudes the pleasure of working and who has the flexibility to embrace innovation, can bring about this change. We are not yet there, we learn a great deal every day; It is a long evolution.
Step 2: Take an existing business to make it fun
We believe that a construction contractor who has an eye is able to see the potential of a dilapidated home. He finds the right time to buy it, makes the right decisions to restore it and sees the best opportunity to sell it. In the same way, buying a company that pulls its paw in spite of its capacities and succeed in putting it on the wheel, is a challenge we like and which would validate the assumptions of good management that we take at Le Chiffre. To do this, we need people and money (see Step 1).
Step 3: Throw a product that sticks
Many will tell you that entrepreneurship in the service is different than that of the product, that the multiplier is lower, that growth is limited. We think this is a fairly weak excuse when we look at companies like CGI or KPMG. That said, the product retains its seductive aura and we do not deny that its power of disruption is greater. We are constantly bombarded with ideas (which are for the most part crazy) of start-ups and one day we will lead one to good.
Step 4: Tell everyone
Here is the summary of the initial plan of Tesla:
One can be inspired every day by a vision and repeat it like a mantra, the path is long and arduous. Tesla is constantly being screened by financial analysts and cynics, often with fairness: the cars promised for 2017 will be late, the risks are disproportionate and the other companies are attacking the electric car in a much more reasonable way. But reason does not accelerate change, as we have said. It takes madness to be great entrepreneurs. Like Musk, we just hope to be crazy enough to drag others along with us on our way.