In this episode we meet Patrick Coghlan, CEO and founding employee at CreditorWatch. We talk about:
- Lessons from mentors on how to stay motivated and be valuable to your company
- How to interview candidates and find the best fit for your team
- The impending economic crisis as government support packages are phased out and,
- What you need to do as a business to protect yourself and assist your business partners
Connecting with Patrick Coghlan
Books and resources mentioned in the episode
Shoe Dog – by Phil Knight
Colin finally said to me, “Look, mate, CreditorWatch is nothing at the moment.” Hadn't even started. Was just an idea.” He said, “It might be gone in a month or a week, six months, a year, who knows? But it's not often you get the chance to join a business from day one.” So that ultimately changed my mind and I never made it to New York or London to work overseas, which is the one thing I still want to do. But it's certainly turned out to be the right decision, because here I am, 10 years later, leading the business.
On taking on business and lessons from mentors
- My old man sat me down, final year of school, and said, “Mate, don't settle for mediocrity, don't take the piss, don't just cruise along.” It probably took me a couple of years to actually let that sink in. He would have liked it to sink in and get some better results in my HSC. But it sunk in when I started working, which was good.
- I've learnt to take my time in making a decision. I could get worked up with losses very easily. So I've worked on being a little bit calmer, taking my time to think through the situation before blowing up, and then essentially having two issues to deal with. One, with my temper, and two, with the initial problem that probably still exists at that point.
- Colin Porter, the ultimate founder and previous CEO, has always been a professional guide. It's his positivity and optimism, I think, where we worked extremely well together, as I'm more on the pessimistic side of the spectrum. That dichotomy worked really well. We thought through decision-making and we listened to one another's opinions, to ultimately make a decision.
- Colin will also look through, past, under or around hurdles that come up. His ability to not be distracted by them and to stay the course is certainly something that I hold dear.
- Whenever I interview someone, I talk through the culture side of CreditorWatch.
- I don't read CVs and I tell them. “I haven't read your CV.” I trust my team to weed out the people based off the fact that they don't have enough experience or they're not right for the role. So the CV for me is almost redundant at that stage.
- It's really interesting to gauge people's reaction. Because it throws them off. Because a lot of them have put time into the CV. I'm not saying it's not important, it certainly plays its part, but it's always interesting to read someone when you say to them, “Hey, yeah, I haven't read your CV. So what we're going to do is let's just talk through what you've been doing and more importantly, what you do outside of work.”
On the impending economic challenges
- Every government stimulus or legislation change or even banking loan deferrals, from a consumer and commercial perspective, are all due to end officially in September (in Australia).
- If it all ends in September, it would be an absolute disaster. We will see a huge increase in unemployment which would be disastrous. We will also see a lot of pain in the commercial sector as well, as they realise that that support that they had from a legislation point of view, is now gone, and ultimately, they are going to have to put themselves into administration.
- There's a lot of companies that will not make it out of Corona. They're going to come to an end and it's a horrible thing, but you've got to be realistic here and honest. While they're being supported, it means that good money from the government, taxpayers, but also from the banks, is being thrown at businesses that are ultimately not going to survive.
- With all these businesses operating in a hibernation mode or having all these businesses in deferral mode, makes it extremely difficult for the lenders to actually look at businesses on an individual case-by-case basis, because there's too many of them. So they've got a bit of a scatter-gun approach.
- The banks are all bringing back guys who've retired, those old-school bankers that used to sit across from you and talk through your numbers, because that's what they need to do to really understand which businesses are going to make it and which ones ultimately are not going to be so successful.
- But there's plenty of time between now and then and a lot can happen. There's still a long time for us to get there. There's plenty of options for the government to make changes or to taper off certain packages and it's now about flattening the insolvency curve.
Advice for Chiefs during this crisis
- You need to assess every single customer, every single debtor, that either has a credit limit with you, whether it's outstanding or a zero balance.
- Assess every single one, even your best clients who you think are going to be around forever and have always paid well.
- Treat every one as if they're a brand new customer to your business, so you can understand, are they going to pay their bills? Can they pay their bills? Where are they located? What is their industry? What is their credit risk? Are they paying bills at the moment? Are their payment terms blowing out?
- Monitor them. They look good today, what happens tomorrow? How do you know that they're still good? Monitoring and alerts, that's a big thing that everyone should have set up.
Final wisdom and advice
Don't let age get in the way. It's clear that technology is here to stay and the younger generation has the upper hand with that, compared to the older generation that's in senior exec or CEO or board roles. They're not as quick to pick it up. Technology for younger people is second nature. It's not the case with the older generation. So I think those two things are really important.