Friday, March 24, 2017

FJ Green Tech Owner’s Motivation for Self-Employment


People start businesses for many reasons whether it is for self-fulfillment, pursuing a passion, or providing a needed skill or product. It can also be a combination of many reasons or like John Johnson, it is a plan for after retirement. Johnson will be retiring from the military soon and to supplement the potential loss of income and to support and sustain his lifestyle after retirement, he decided to start a business. In his previous work experience, he worked in the federal government and for a golf course which involved landscaping and general maintenance. This gave him the idea to open FJ Green Tech. The company specializes in lawn care, tree pruning, edging, hedge trimming, weed control, water blasting, light metal fabrications, and equipment rental. 


For Johnson, the start-up process “was actually very easy.” He did some research online and found the SBDC through a friend. He registered for a few classes and learned how to manage a small business, write a business plan, and a financial plan. Some of the SBDC workshops involved the Small Business Administration (SBA) on how business loans work. Johnson stated that even after attending the workshops, SBDC was always available to answer his questions that he didn’t understand which helped him put things into perspective. He continued on to say that the SBDC Business Advisor was able to direct him to the right people and assist on finalizing his financial plan. It took him less than a week to turn in his loan application and get approved to start his business.

One of the challenges Johnson mentioned is the actual preparation of the financial plan, but credited SBDC on their assistance and guidance to make the process manageable. He did name that setting realistic goals and doing the research on the equipment needed was the biggest challenge he faced. Although Johnson’s company is just a couple months old, his triumphs include maintaining repeat customers, breaking above even, and securing his first contract with a government agency. FJ Green Tech aims to acquire a few more government agency contracts within a year and eventually in the long-run, have this business as his main source of income and possibly open another business venture.

John Johnson is a father of two children and is married to Desiree Johnson.  To entrepreneurs, Johnson says, “Be persistent, stay motivated, and focus on your goals.” To learn more about FJ Green Tech’s services, you can visit their Facebook page or call 487-0019/9408. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Kosrae SBDC Welcomes New Business Advisor

By: Skiller Jackson
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Kosrae SBDC)

Ms. Emily Sam O’Steen joined the Kosrae SBDC as the new Business Advisor on the first week of October 2016. M. O’steen worked for the Kosrae government as a student intern with the FSM Finance for three months and joined the Division of Statistics as a Census Enumerator for eight months. She also worked at the Department of Education, Kosrae State as a classroom teacher for five years.

Ms. O’Steen left Kosrae to join her husband who was recruited for the US Armed Forces in 2008. She was hired by the AAFES Exchange in Fort Hood, Texas as a sales clerk. After her husband’s medical retirement with the US Military around June 2013, Ms. O’Steen came back with her family to Kosrae where she started working for the Kosrae State Government.

On October 2016, Ms. O’Steen was hired by the Kosrae SBDC as the new Business Advisor.

With the knowledge and skills that Ms. O’Steen brought with her to the Kosrae SBDC, we are fortunate to have such an asset to help the Kosrae small business community. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

LCM Pharmaceutical Now Open: Palau’s Only Independently Owned Pharmacy

By: Ltelatk Fritz
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Palau SBDC)

Owner Clarette Matlab
LCM Enterprise dba LCM Pharmaceutical became Palau’s only independently owned pharmacy as its doors were officially opened for business on Saturday, January 28, 2017. The owner, Ms. Clarette Matlab, is a full-time, licensed pharmacist who has been working at the Belau National Hospital for 20 years. She began her career as a nurse before moving into pharmaceuticals. During her eight-year tenure as a pharmacist, Clarette saw a need for better access and options for medications in the local community. Many times, patients are unable to get their prescriptions filled because of the shortage of supply at the national hospital. With the opening of LCM Pharmaceutical, Palauans have access to another source of affordable prescriptions.

She first approached Palau SBDC seeking assistance to start her business in 2009. It has been a long process of working out details for a business plan, which is often required for business (commercial) loans at both development banks—like NDBP—and commercial banks—like Bank of Guam, Bank of Hawaii, and Bank Pacific. Palau SBDC provided one-on-one counseling with Clarette to help refine her business plans and financial projections. Along the way, Clarette encountered many challenges in the planning process such as finding the right software—for the business and pharmacy operations—and establishing financial projections for her start-up company. However, Clarette acknowledged the importance of planning it out on paper and anticipating potential costs/issues and addressing the issues before starting the company, because trying to run a new company and dealing with problems at the same time will be overwhelming on the owner.

Clarette opened LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed Pharmacy to provide quality medicine and personal health products at affordable prices. With the technical assistance from Palau SBDC, Clarette was able to complete a comprehensive business plan and detailed financial projections for her loan application package with the N

ational Development Bank of Palau. Clarette was able launch LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed with her savings, a loan from NDBP, and in-kind assistance from friends and family. 

LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed created four new jobs in the local community. Some of the challenges Clarette encountered during the long process is getting things done on time (especially working full-time), figuring out the financials, and sticking to her commitment. Eventually, Clarette plans to include other health services such as diagnostic laboratory services and counseling services—lifestyle (NCD) support.

LCM Enterprise doing business as LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed is located at Meketii hamlet in the old family bakery. Business hours are Monday – Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Custom Fitness


Custom Fitness is a functional fitness facility and physical therapy clinic. Some of the services they offer are cross-fit kids’ classes, cross-fit classes, teen strengthening and conditioning classes, as well as personal training, yoga and mobility. 

"When we decided to open Custom Fitness, we really had no idea what we were doing. None of us had ever done anything like this before and were basically leaping head first into something completely unknown and we happened upon Denise Mendiola at the SBDC. She really guided us along the way, helped us develop our business plan, and develop financial models that we could present to the bank. She basically gave us the rundown of what to do. All we knew was that we wanted to open a business and we needed money to do it and a place to open it and we had a dream and a goal and we just needed help nurturing that.” – Samantha King Sablan 



“If I had any advice for someone trying to start their business, I’d definitely tell them to not give up. It’s hard work. It’s a lot of sweat and tears, but in the end it will be worth it if it’s something you truly believe in.” – Samantha King Sablan 


Custom Fitness is located in Anigua and open on M-F from 5:30am - 7:30pm; Saturday from 6:00am - 12:00pm; and closed on Sundays. For more information on their services, visit http://customfitnessguam.com/ or call 989-0436.

An Interview with Jessica Stout of Bonita Trading Co.

Jessica Stout is a wife, mother of three, and business owner of Bonita Trading Co. along with Joe Leon Guerrero & Margaret Leon Guerrero. This locally owned and family run business offers hair and baby accessories and kid-friendly apparel designs under their brands: Bonita Baby, Kidd Pacific, and The Original Guam Polo Collection are inspired by their children, culture, and love for Guam. Jessica discussed her business venture journey through the challenges and triumphs and also talked about what lies in store for Bonita Trading Co. 

Please tell us about yourself and your family.  I’m a Wife (to Michael) and Mommy to 3 wonderful children:  Celia, Michael and Olivia. 

Why did you decide to start your own business? My business was inspired by two things:  A passionate hobby and the desire to pass on our culture to my children.  I realized that the selection of unique and locally inspired children’s gear was very minimal and found my niche in designing and creating, alongside my brother Joe, some kid-friendly designs that were Guam themed.
 
     What experience do you have in this type of business?  I have an MBA and a background in sales and finance. While becoming a business owner seemed like a natural progression, I really didn’t have any experience in the retail or craft business.  I learned a lot from other business owners and artists.  I also read through business articles and trade blogs online.

    How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?  The Small Business Development Center really helped me to identify my business objectives,   develop realistic steps to reaching my goals, and formulate a solid direction to take my business.  Even though I already have my business plan in full motion – it’s comforting to know that if I have any other questions or concerns, the team at SBDC is always there to help me. 
     What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?  We self -funded our business from the start so our inventory was fairly small and selective to only the items we really wanted to bring to market.  However, last year, we were fortunate enough to receive a grant which helped us launch our newest clothing line – the Guam Polo Collection.

What were some of the biggest challenges/experienced you experienced in the start-up process?  I believe in any business, funding is always a big challenge.  We just started small and continued to reinvest in our business.  We took baby steps to get to a comfortable point.  Self-doubt was something I also had to get over.  There were times I wondered if my business was going anywhere, but when I have customers send me photos of their babies and children in their Guam bibs or Guam Seal headbands or Hafa Adai tee shirts – that’s when I know the challenges have been worth it.
What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?  I have two memorable triumphs:  Starting a collective boutique with talented female artists from around the island was just amazing.  You can’t help but to draw inspiration from like-minded women who just want to help lift you up.  I have so much gratitude for the experience. Also, being the recipient of the Guam Unique Merchandise and Art Grant was truly memorable.  Having some of Guam’s most successful business men and women believe in you and your products is so encouraging.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?  For Bonita Baby and Kid Pacific, in the short-term, we are launching our very own storefront in just a few weeks.  It is truly an exciting time for us. In addition, we have a lot of new ideas and designs that we will release throughout the year. Longer term, we just want to continue on with our mission of cultivating and preserving our beautiful Chamorro culture through our kid-friendly products.
What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time? Starting a business is frightening and amazing all at the same time-- but you won’t ever regret believing in yourself and putting your ideas out there.  All it takes is a vision, determination, and that very first step.  I believe Guam is ripe for new businesses.
For more information on Bonita Baby and Kid Pacific items, visit www.bonitaguam.com. You can find their products at the Guam Art Boutique and GUMA Store in Chamorro Village, Neni & Me in Sagua Managu in Tamuning, and Two Lover’s Point Gift Shop. Be on the lookout in March 2017 as they open their storefront in Hagatna directly besidre Buzzcuts & Ponytails.

To find out how the Guam SBDC can assist you start or expand your business, visit www.pacificsbdc.com or call their main office at 671-735-2590.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Managing Personal Credit for Business Related Financing

By: Jane Ray
Business Advisor
Guam SBDC

Sometimes having a great business idea isn’t enough to bring your dream into reality.  There are factors such as the 5 Cs of Credit that will affect your business’s ability to get the financing that it needs.  One of those Cs is credit score.  Credit score is an important factor that can have a significant impact on your quest to financing.  Your credit score reflects how you have handled your personal credit in the past and predicts the likelihood of how you will handle it in the future.  That three digit number can reflect your character as a business owner and also demonstrate how you have handled your own personal finances.  The way you manage your personal finances can demonstrate how you are going to handle your business finances in most cases.  Therefore it is imperative that you, as a business owner, should know your personal credit score and credit history before reaching out to lenders.

How do I check my credit score?
Generally, you can retrieve your personal credit report from one of the three credit bureaus; TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.  As a consumer, you are allowed to obtain a free copy of your credit report through all three of the credit bureaus every year.  The credit reports will allow you to check your personal information; name, social security number, and address.  You should also check your account history, account information, late payments, collections, and tax liens.  It is recommended to check for any unexpected errors or surprises.  This will allow you to correct any errors and address any issues such as collections prior to applying to a financial institution.     

Since financial institutions are not required to report your activities to all three credit bureaus, some information can appear in one bureau but not the other.  It is best to check with all three credit bureau reports to ensure accurate information is reflected on each of those reports.  Some financial institutions only obtain a single credit report from the credit bureau with which they work directly when reviewing loan applications.  It is crucial to check credit reports from all three credit bureaus.   

Personal credit scores range from 300 to 850.  Credit scores vary between credit bureaus; each bureau has its own scoring models.  Generally, credit score is computed based on the following components:  payment history (35%); capacity (30%); length of credit history (10%); types of credit used (15%); and new credit (10%).  Paying bills on time is one of the most critical parts of maintaining a good credit score while avoiding excessive use of lines of credit and credit cards is another way to not adversely impacting your credit.  Any usage over 35% of the credit limit can considered excessive; therefore keeping track of what you spend on credit card is good financial practice.     

How to dispute when there is an issue?
If you identify errors or issues on your credit report, you can dispute the information with the credit bureau the information is coming from.  You can either dispute the information online, by telephone, or by mail.  It is helpful to have a copy of the credit report with the incorrect information when disputing; each report has a specific number identifying when it was generated.  This credit report number can assist the credit bureau in finding the incorrect information faster.  You should also provide any supporting documentation if you have any.  It is not recommended to send the original document however a copy of the document will be adequate.  Expect a 30 to 45 day timeframe for processing as the credit bureau will contact the source to verify, correct, and update the databases.  If you are experiencing identity theft or other credit issues, you can request for Security Freeze or Fraud alert on your credit report to prevent any unauthorized access.  Before selecting either of those options it is important to understand that Security Freeze and Fraud Alert will prevent creditors from accessing your credit reports unless you have provided the authorization.  Sometime it can also delay loan application process if you have forgotten that you placed one of those options onto your credit report.         

How long does negative information remain on my credit report?
Types of Information
Duration
Accounts paid as agreed
10 years from the date of last activity
Accounts not paid as agreed
7 years from the date the account first became past due
Late or missed payments
7 years
Collection accounts
7 years
Judgements (paid or not)
7 years
Paid Tax Liens / Unpaid Tax Liens
7 years / Indefinitely
Bankruptcy  - Chapter 7 / 11 / 13 non-discharged or dismissed
10 years from date filed
Bankruptcy – Chapter 13 (Discharged)
7 years from the date filed
Credit Inquiries
2 years
Source:  Moogalian, Diane (2010, May 10). FAQ: How Long Does Information Stay on My Credit Report? Retrieved from October 17, 2016, from http://blog.equifax.com/credit/faq-how-long-does-information-stay-on-my-credit-report/

Where can I find information about credit?
Have realistic expectations and be aware that paying past due payments or addressing delinquent collections will not immediately improve your credit score.  It takes time to improve your credit after financial difficulties or hardship.  There are many online resources that can help you if you are in need of financial education.  Each credit bureau has an educational center that discusses credit related topics.  Other web sites, such as Credit Karma and Nerd Wallet, have features on comparison shopping on different credit products and credit report monitoring services that are available to you.  If your financial issues come from poor financial habits, seeking professional help from a financial counselor or financial professional might help you address the root of the issue. 


If you are currently in business, or are planning to go into business, you will require funds to start or to expand your business.  Do not circumvent or work around adverse credit issues or you may miss a once in a life time opportunity.  It is better to address it now rather than wait until later when you are in urgent need of financing. Once you miss the opportunity, you won’t know when the next one will arise.  Being financially responsible with your personal credit will prepare you to achieve your financial dreams by being your own boss.       



Jane Ray, MS CCFCU received her Bachelor in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Economic from the University of Guam. She then received her Master in Accounting and Financial Management from the University of Maryland University College.  Ray has over ten years in commercial lending experience and previously awarded the Small Business Banker of the Year award by the Small Business Administration.






Friday, December 23, 2016

Fizz and Co. Opens in Agana Shopping Center

An Interview with LeAnn Crisostomo, Co-Owner


Please tell us about yourself and your family
Grew up in Ipan Talofofo, Married to Robbi Crisostomo, 5 daughters, 4 grandsons and 1 granddaughter & this is our first business venture as a family.  

Why did you decide to start your own business? 
Fulfillment! Freedom! Legacy! I wish I started sooner.  I finally faced my fears and made up my mind to push forward no matter what.

What experience do you have in this type of business? 
Aside from being a waitress at 17 and almost 3 years with the first location in Hagatna (across Bank of Guam), I did not have much experience in this industry.


How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you? 
SBDC gave me the list of requirements to start a business. Having SBDC was comforting, because they provided guidance every step of the way.  What also helped us through was networking with other entrepreneurs and sharing experiences and support.  It’s amazing!

What were some of the factors in deciding to open a second location and how did you decide with Agana Shopping Center? 
With the success of the current location we wanted to expand our menu and a good friend recommended the Agana Shopping Center. 


What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in opening a second location? 
We upgraded by purchasing a hood which allows us to offer more options to add to our menu.   Learning the in-depth requirements and systems was a challenge with those improvements in our new location.


What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business? 
Short term is to develop an efficient system to streamline our internal operations so we can always provide quality customer service and care while our long term is to open a third location.

Please list some of your products/services and popular items. Burgers, fries, Hotdogs, Panini, shakes, floats & handcrafted sodas.


What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time? 
If your heart is taking you in that direction, get over the fear and do it!  Don’t be afraid. Lots of amazing support out there. Surround yourself with positive people. 

"Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things.  The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, would have and should have" 
~Unknown
 

Business Name: Fizz&Co
Owner(s): LeAnn&Robbi Crisostomo
Type of Business: Restaurant
Location: Rt 4 Hagatna & Agana Shopping Center
Hours of Operation: 11-3 at the Rt4 location & 10-8pm at the Agana Shopping Center
Contact information: 477-3499 Rt4, 922-3499 ASC
Instagram and Facebook: fizzsodashop