LaRese Purnell took advantage of growth opportunities

LaRese Purnell is a 2018 Cleveland Smart 50 honoree

LaRese Purnell started his first business as a teenager growing up in Cleveland. As he was shoveling snow for neighbors, he got the idea to get some of his friends involved.

“I thought I could go out and shovel myself, but why not get all the kids together in the neighborhood and we could strategically hit all the houses,” says Purnell, managing partner at CLE Consulting Firm. “I was running a company, but I didn’t know it was a company at the time. I just had a crew of seven young guys my age and I was the leader. That’s what I became known for in the neighborhood.”

In addition to his burgeoning entrepreneurial skills, Purnell regularly found himself in front of strong leaders as a youngster — a local entrepreneur, an attorney or some other person in a position of power. All of them made an impression on Purnell. 

“God was sending me leaders in my life and it set me up,” Purnell says. “As I watched them run their businesses, I said, ‘That’s something I want to do. I want to one day run my own business.’”

Leadership education

His passion for helping others and bringing people together in pursuit of a common cause has only grown over time. 

“When it comes to doing things from a financial and accounting perspective, it’s not just about giving somebody a profit and loss statement,” Purnell says. “It’s about education. A young lady called me recently who has been in business for 15 years and makes about $2 million or $3 million a year, but doesn’t really understand how to run her business from a financial perspective or how to make decisions. For me, I get more excited about those projects than the $15 million, $20 million companies that have it together and just want me to come in and manage it.”

Mentorship is huge

It’s no surprise, then, that Purnell is a big believer in mentorship.

“There needs to be respect paid to those who pave the way, but there also needs to be a transfer of knowledge,” Purnell says. “It’s so important that you reach back and mentor somebody that is trying to do the same thing you were so they don’t have to make the same mistakes. If we did that, we would have businesses that exist longer.”

On the side

Favorite sport: Baseball

Vacation spot: Cancun

Currently reading: “Walking to Destiny,” by Christopher M. Snider

Where you’ll most likely find me on the weekend: At the movies

People I admire most… give back to the community

One thing people might find surprising about me: I was born in Cleveland, but I also spent time in the Virgin Islands. It was beautiful.