Purpose, joy and Verafin’s $2.75 billion exit

Purpose, joy and Verafin’s $2.75 billion exit

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Last week’s news of St. John’s, NL-based Verafin’s sale to Nasdaq for $2.75 billion has many business owners in Atlantic Canada saying Wow! – myself included. In fact, when I shared a link to an article about the sale on my Facebook page, that’s the only word I added to the post: Wow. It’s all I could think to say at that moment. 

After I heard about the deal I headed to Google to find some more information about Verafin and its founders. I came across an article in Entrevestor from 2014 in which Verafin co-founder and CEO Jamie King spoke about the culture of the company. A quote from that article: 

“King stressed […] that Verafin is perpetuating its winning formula by developing a corporate culture that stresses six facets: purpose, value, growth, reward, freedom, and joy.”

I was struck by this sentence because, of the six facets listed, four of them feature prominently in my business—and in the work I do with small business owners.

Value and freedom are two of my business’ five core values. Value, in the context of my business, means a commitment to over-deliver to clients so that they get at least 10x value from my services. And freedom, for me, signifies that being a business owner is a means to enjoy time freedom and financial freedom (and resisting at all costs becoming a slave to one’s business).

Purpose is the first P in the 4P model I use in my work with small business owners. It’s the first P because, to me, that’s where it all starts in business. If you don’t know the purpose of your business—why it exists, what it is trying to accomplish, and how the world will be different because of your business—then it becomes very hard to do any meaningful planning (the second P) whatsoever. (To quote Yogi Berra, if you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.) That purpose is the first of the six facets in Verafin’s corporate culture makes me think that King views the importance of purpose in a similar manner.

Joy is the last of the four, and is the one that most jumped off the page when I read the article. Joy (or enjoyment) is one component of the triple bottom line concept that I work on with small business owners. (The other components are profit and impact.) Joy is often forgotten as a measure of success in business, ending up as casualty to the endless pursuit of profit and growth.

So to see that Verafin, a company that went from start up to $2.75 BILLION in just 17 years (Wow!), focused on joy throughout its now famous corporate journey, was very inspiring. It makes me more confident than ever that the profit-impact-enjoyment triple bottom line is the right approach to help entrepreneurs build a business and a life that works. 

Now whenever anyone suggests to me that joy in business is a nice-to-have, but not a core component, I can respond with one word.

No, not Wow.