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"American Express" featured Andrew Flamm, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Pace University, in "These Tips Can Help You Stretch Your Working Capital"

12/17/2018

"American Express" featured Andrew Flamm, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Pace University, in "These Tips Can Help You Stretch Your Working Capital"

Keep your working capital working harder by following these tips to help boost your cash flow.

Running a business requires a juggling act: Expenses must be paid even as you are waiting for checks to come in. That fluctuating pot of money at a business's disposal to pay for day-to-day expenses is called working capital.

“Working capital is basically the flow of cash that supports your operations," says Christine Rico, founder of CEO on Speed Dial, a financial consulting firm in Brooklyn, New York. “It's the lifeblood of a company."

These days, business owners may be feeling a working capital squeeze—just as they need it most to take advantage of a strong economy and the upcoming holiday season. “This time of year is so crucial," says Andrew Flamm, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Pace University in New York. “If you don't have working capital in place to be able to ramp up and have goods on the shelf, you lose an opportunity."

Why the squeeze? Interest rates are inching up, making lines of credit and working capital loans more expensive. In addition, many businesses are on the receiving end of a push among large corporations to optimize their own cash flow by pushing out payment terms.

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"CBS News" featured Andrew Flamm, director of the Small Business Development Center at Pace University, in "Building a small business that's tougher than steel"

10/18/2018

"CBS News" featured Andrew Flamm, director of the Small Business Development Center at Pace University, in "Building a small business that's tougher than steel"

Diversify your customer base

Suddenly losing a major client or dealing with a delayed payment can put a small-business owner in a bind. One strategy to avoid being entirely too reliant on a single big customer is to expand your portfolio of customers.

"Diversifying your client base is crucial to any small business," Andrew Flamm, director of the Small Business Development Center at Pace University told CBS MoneyWatch. "In particular, being able to look at business development opportunities while you have a large client is an ideal time."

That's because with such a client already on the books, you can demonstrate to other prospective clients that your business has the capacity to handle that level of service, Flamm said. And by lining up other customers, you put yourself in a position to not be as worried if that big contract isn't renewed.

To prevent issues like a delayed payment eating into your cash flow savings, consider a strategy like offering a discounts to clients who pay bills early and in full. Or if you have to do a job that requires a big supply purchase or additional help, set a deposit requirement. That can help with cash flow until the job is completed -- and you won't be shelling out as much to handle the order and then waiting 60 or 90 days for reimbursement.

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"CBS News" featured director of the Pace University Small Business Development Center Andrew Flamm in "Launching a new business: First key steps"

09/18/2018

"CBS News" featured director of the Pace University Small Business Development Center Andrew Flamm in "Launching a new business: First key steps"

...If you've been working on a side hustle that you're planning to turn into a business, those answers may be more readily available, said Andrew Flamm, director of the Pace University Small Business Development Center, which provides workshops and advisers to small-business owners and startups.

"The folks who are at an earlier stage -- whether they're doing a side hustle or maybe they're a graphic designer at night and baking cupcakes for the church group on weekends -- they have a proof of concept that's working, and they've kind of sampled with clients," Flamm told CBS MoneyWatch.

For those just starting out with their idea, Flamm said it may take more digging to tap into exactly who your customer is. "The simultaneous process might be being able to look at what your customers might be interested in, but also thinking about the different components of the business plan," Flamm said.

He added: "Who am I, what do I offer? Look at your target market and make sure it actually aligns with what [the product] is going to be."

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