Cash flow workshop to be hosted by PNC Bank of Mt. Pleasant
As a chartered financial consultant, David E. Stairs said he is well-versed in the importance of properly tending what he referred to as a small business' cash flow.
It took Stairs — proprietor of Stairs Financial Services LLC/Nationwide in Mt. Pleasant — several years to learn the intricacies of managing a payroll, maintaining reliable records and preparing fiscally for dry periods in the business cycle, he said.
And he is still learning.
“In my own experience, when I started my business, I was good at selling insurance, but doing all of the things you have to do to run a business ... that's a constant learning experience,” Stairs said.
Interactive gathering to address questions
Stairs and several other local entrepreneurs and business owners on Wednesday will take part in an hour-long, interactive workshop, presented by PNC Bank of Mt. Pleasant.
The event will break down the core components of cash flow and why it's so critical to the success of a business.
Sponsored by the Mt. Pleasant Business District Authority and the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, the workshop is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Harmon House Care Center in the borough.
It is free and open to the public.
“People are great at what they do ... they have great abilities and aptitudes ... but they often lack knowledge about how to keep cash flow coming and keep the cash flow growing,” said Stairs, a member of the authority's board of directors.
“That, in my opinion, is a big reason why people should consider attending this workshop — to be able to gain that knowledge and recognize the fact that they need that knowledge,” he said.
Workshop attendees will have an opportunity to share a discourse with Jessica Haigis, the event's facilitator and manager of PNC Bank of Mt. Pleasant, Stairs and the other local business people who plan to attend.
“Most importantly, it will give guests a hands-on opportunity to assess, analyze and forecast their business' actual cash flow,” Haigis said. “The workshop will give local business owners and leaders the opportunity to make cash flow work in their business's favor.”
Entrepreneurs to offer views
In addition to Stairs, local certified public accountant Dale Walker of Dale Walker Associates will be in attendance.
“I guess you would say that, for any business, cash flow is certainly a critical factor, regardless of whether it is a small or large business,” Walker said. “It can only help a business person to understand where you can obtain cash from, not just from sales, how you can regulate it so, when times are slow, and you need a temporary loan you can do something about it.”
In as little as five years, failure befalls more than half of entrepreneurs who establish startup businesses in a variety of industries — from finance insurance and real estate to retail to transportation, communication and utilities, according to a study published in January 2014 by Entrepreneur Weekly, a publication of the Small Business Development Center at Bradley University/University of Tennessee Research.
Stairs has been reviewing the study in preparation for the workshop.
“People who establish startup businesses fail for three reasons — a lack of planning, little knowledge of financing and no experience in record keeping,” he said.
Another factor in maintaining an adequate level of operational capital is anticipating when profits will rise and fall, according to Nino Barsotti, a fellow authority member and proprietor of Nino's Restaurant in Laurelville, who also plans to take part in the workshop.
“We are a seasonal restaurant. That means we are much busier at certain times than others, so our cash flow is critical,” Barsotti said. “As a business owner, you have to make sure have enough saved up to cover slow times. I think business owners of any size would benefit from hearing some new ideas and techniques on how to do so.”
And the event also represents a step in the authority's pursuit of a proactive track for a healthier entrepreneurial climate for current and potential businesses in the future, said Deborah Salopek, the manager of the Laurel Highlands Chapter of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce.
“(Shop Demo Depot deconstruction manager) Kim Giles and I were appointed to the (authority) board in January, so we want to really help start taking the (authority) in a positive direction,” Salopek said.
Event seating is limited, and those interested in attending are asked to contact Haigis to reserve a seat at 724-547-4119.
Authority hires outreach coordinator
Scottdale's Therese Bell was recently hired as the authority's outreach coordinator.
Bell — who boasts nearly 30 years spent working in the fields of job placement, training and sales — applied for the position upon reviewing an advertisement she saw on the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce website's job bank for employment opportunities, she said.
“I went on there and there was about 20 job openings, but I thought this one fit me best, so I applied,” Bell said. “It's just what I am good at — helping to promote businesses, making business owners aware of grant opportunities we have that have available to them, and getting them feedback on what they need and want to help them make their businesses successful.”
In 1985, Bell established and operated Bell Personnel Inc., an employment agency she ran for 10 years.
She then worked from 2000 to 2008 as senior admissions representative at All State Career School, where she located, interviewed, enrolled and started more than 145 people annually into the Class A commercial driver's license program.
Bell then worked three years for Pennsylvania Training Consultants in Connellsville as the firm's senior program manager. There she was a member of a team that designed and implemented various standalone programs for adults and vocational schools related to the natural gas industry.
From early 2011 to May, she served as manager of Southpointe Energy Resource Group in Canonsburg, a firm that performs general subcontracting for the oil and gas industry in the tri-state area.
In her current position, Bell said she also hopes to work with members of the authority's board of directors to help make its website, mtpleasantbda.com, more user friendly.
A breast cancer survivor, Bell said she will bring an aura of positivity to the post.
“I like to think I have a new enthusiasm for life,” she said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.