Joseph Coorey is an accountant who specialises in insolvency. So, ironically, he’s learned the most important thing you need to get right if you want to succeed in business – which is knowing your numbers.

Joseph, the 243rd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, said many of the failed companies he encounters have poor accounting practices.

If they’d known their numbers better, they might have realised a cashflow crisis was just around the corner or that they’d become dependent on a small number of clients or that they needed to shift resources from winning new customers to keeping their existing ones happy.

But because they didn’t understand their financial position, they stumbled into insolvency.

Joseph helps manage companies in administration, receivership and liquidation. As part of the process, he has to uncover all the assets and liabilities the company has. He also has to forensically examine bank statements, to find out if the directors have done anything improper with the money.

As you might expect, some directors don’t welcome the scrutiny.

Joseph also has to interact with creditors, who, naturally, can become very upset at the prospect of losing lots of money. That’s why although you need to care, you also need to remain emotionally detached, so you can stay calm, understand their concerns, and navigate them through uncertain and difficult times, he says.

So that’s Joseph the professional. But what about Joseph the person? Well, he’s fun, outgoing and a good conversationalist. I’m glad we’re now friends.