Managing

The man who wants to give away his $1 million business

Yolanda Redrup /

Ever dreamed of owning your own business, but don’t want to put in the hard yards getting it off the ground? You might be in luck.

PR firm Global Tolerance founder Simon Cohen has made the decision to give away his business, valued between $900,000 and $1.8 million.

The deal will see the new managing director have 95% ownership in the company, $18,000 in cash, and a business which has worked with major clients such as the Dalai Lama and the Prince of Wales.

Cohen has also pledged to stay on for 12 months as an advisor, to help the new business owner make a smooth transition.

To make the task of running a business easier, Cohen has also provided a detailed guide on the roles and responsibilities of the new owner.

For the past 12 months Cohen and his employees have taken a “company-wide sabbatical”. All seven full-time staff were made redundant, but Cohen encouraged them to take Global Tolerance’s clients with them and work as freelancers.

“It’s been the biggest year of growth in my life. I’ve just become a dad… I’ve been thinking about what my role is as a guardian… I don’t really feel that sense of ownership… she’s her own person, she’s her own entity. What I do feel is a deep sense of stewardship and a deep sense of responsibility,” Cohen says in a video on the company website.

“In my relationship with Global Tolerance, yes I own 100% of the shares, but do I own Global Tolerance? What does that even mean? No, what I feel is a deep sense of stewardship and a deep sense of responsibility… to serve its vision.”

Cohen goes on to say his way of leaving a legacy for Global Tolerance, which has been operating for over 10 years, is to institute a global search process for a new leader.

Cohen calls his unusual move an “open leadership exercise”, which he hopes will allow someone new to take over Global Tolerance and follow their vision.

In an interview with BBC,Cohen said he’s looking for someone with an “authentic social vision”.

“I will also be looking for someone with strong financial and business acumen, as this is an area where I have fallen short,” he says.

In a Q&A on the company website, Cohen said the Global Tolerance board had “raised eyebrows” at first.

“The bank and accountants were less than impressed,” he says.

“But after talking through the decision with the key members of the Global Tolerance team, everyone has been wholeheartedly supportive. They get it. Just as they understood that the Global Tolerance sabbatical was not just a year out, but part of a wider vision for enlightened business and leadership for the 21st century.”

To become the new business owner prospective owners are required to undertake a five-step process, including tweeting about what leadership means to them, filling in an application, submitting a business plan and attending an evaluation day.

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