Exiting with Purpose

business exit business exit strategy entrepreneurship Mar 06, 2024

Recently, I had the opportunity to hang out with a handful of Small Giants in Europe.

Our adventures took us from Neue Taverne, a vegetarian restaurant in Zurich, to The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, which houses one of the world's largest furniture collections.

The Small Giants Community, co-founded by Paul Spiegelman and inspired by Bo Burlingham's book, is more than a network; it's a family of leaders eager to share, learn, and grow together. 

While I love the Small Giants events, being together in a small group allowed us to connect more deeply, sharing our stories about the challenges of moving to new countries, buying a business in a foreign land, navigating cultural change, and the loss of purpose associated with selling a business.

Small Giants

Exiting with purpose, lessons from inspiring entrepreneurs...

I've known Paul for over a decade and watched from a distance as he navigated the sale of BerylHealth. He's a humble, thoughtful, caring person, driven by a strong sense of purpose...

"We wanted to run a business where people love coming into work every day."

And they did.

BerylHealth became a family.

But as with most entrepreneurs who sell (myself included), Paul's sense of purpose faltered after he sold BerylHealth.

Our search for purpose...

It's not something we pay much attention to when building a business; in fact, we hardly put much thought into selling, let alone our sense of purpose beyond the exit. 

Paul's still in touch with some of his leadership team, but when he sold, he let go of more than a business; he said goodbye to his Beryl family and, to some extent, his sense of purpose.

I say 'to some extent' because Paul's purpose transcends his business ventures. He has an overarching purpose: to bring out the best in people and give back.

He channels that sense of purpose through Small Giants, his Growing with Purpose podcast, the Sounding Board Mentorship program and soon a foundation to help school underprivileged children.

Paul described it best when he said: "Life is a search for purpose that never ends. I'm an older guy, and I'm still at it."

Your life purpose...

My conversation with Paul and visit to The Vitra Design Museum got me thinking about the importance of a life purpose. 

Vitra Design Museum Fire Station

The Fire Station on the Vitra Campus - photo credit Sinem Dorter

The Vitra Design Museum is a testament to the life purpose of visionary entrepreneur Rolf Fehlbaum.

His dedication to innovative design and cultural impact through architecture saw him embark on a bold venture with Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, entrusting her with the design of the fire station on the campus, marking her first major project.

This decision exemplified his preference for embracing new talent over established names, a testament to his belief in the transformative power of design on culture.

Fehlbaum, who also possesses the world's largest collection of chairs, muses on his fascination with them.

While unsure of the origin of his interest, he philosophically notes, "In a way, it was fate for me. So, you love fate: you make it interesting."

"You want to know about the best chairs, the history, everything. You have to make what you do something you love."

Product Launch

For entrepreneurs, Fehlbaum's journey emphasizes the importance of pioneering uncharted territories and the value of investing in what you love

It's a reminder that the essence of entrepreneurship lies in the courage to take calculated risks, the willingness to support emerging talents, and the passion for making a meaningful impact.

This reflects a deeper sentiment about passion and purpose; to truly excel and find joy in one's endeavours, it's crucial to immerse oneself in the love and significance of their work, turning a profession into a calling.

In embracing our entrepreneurial paths, Paul and Fehlbaum's examples show that our ventures should go beyond mere business operations to reflect our deepest interests and values. 

Doing so enriches our professional journey and contributes to a broader cultural and societal evolution, making what we do not just a job, a business or a chapter in our lives but a legacy.



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