Business Small Business

Saturday 18 November 2017

'I was paid an enormous salary relative to the time - and I suppose I went a little mad...'

Pat Cooney, founder, Boyne Brewhouse

Pat Cooney
Pat Cooney

Pat Cooney

For anybody with an entrepreneurial spirit, it is probably better that you don't know too many of the lessons that you learn later - or you'd probably never start.

That said, there are of course many things you learn that are very helpful and which could have reduced the mistakes and hard knocks.

In the mid-Sixties there were not many career opportunities and going to university was not an option at that time. My older brother had become an accountant, and it seemed to me that this was a profession you could achieve without a degree or family circumstances. It was perhaps the easy option, but I've never regretted it as it gave me exposure to the fascinating world of business and trade.

I qualified at 21 and immediately was offered a job by a joinery factory for which I had worked while I was a trainee accountant. It was the late Sixties and the beginnings of modern Ireland were being laid.

I was paid an enormous salary relative to the time and I suppose I went a little mad with the mood of change. It took me two years to realise I was wasting time. I wish I'd known then that time wasted can never be recovered.

I met a wonderful girl who has been my partner, friend and wife for the past 40 years. She encouraged me and gave me the freedom to strike out on my own and follow my dream - to have my own business where I could be master of my own future and destiny.

With my brother we acquired a small wholesale business - the Gleeson Group - in Borrisoleigh, which over the years grew to 750 employees and €300m turnover. We made many mistakes, but we also learned along the way.

I wish I'd known then that turnover is important, profit is very important - but cash flow is king. Borrow as little as possible, but more than you need and be sure to always meet your commitments. Banks can be very nice when things are going well, but if the winds change...

Be honest and timely in dealing with the Revenue Commissioners, too. They are a very powerful body and have long memories.

Risk and reward is part of the reality of business. Have faith in your vision and plan and stick with it. You can be sure there will be bad days and good days, but the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

Sunday Indo Business

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