Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guam: A Land of Export Opportunities for Cash Flow

By Jerry Crawford
Business Consultant
(Guam SBDC)

Take a walk through the popular tourist shops on Guam such as Duty Free Shops, JP Superstore, ABC Stores, and others. You will find locally produced products being sold every day in quantities to support a profitable business. Here are some of the product categories you will find:
·         varieties of cookies and candies made with local ingredients such as coconut and mango;
·         lotions, oils, and soaps made from local plants;
·         Flavors of the island specialty jams.
Look at the global picture to see how big your own export business can become.

Are You The Next Guam Opportunity?

The tourism market continues to provide a steady flow of buyers of locally produced products. Plus, there is a new category of products called “Hand Carry Exports” which give business owners opportunities to expand their distribution and sales with products that can be sold at Guam Duty Free Shops and the airport as carry-on, then taken to the destination country, and declared as a purchase made overseas.
Hawaii has succeeded with pineapple, sugarcane, coffee, etc. Guam can do it with coconut products, native plant lotions and oils, flavor of the island jams, etc. What will be next? Eco-friendly toys? Agro-tours of your production plantation? Hand-crafted Guam beer or liquor? Reef shoes from recycled products? An inspired clothing line? Come up with a product and let this Export Resource Guide steer you to becoming a profitable exporter.

Food Exports

Today, the opportunities to export consumer-oriented and value-added food products are great. In fact, there has probably never been a better time for companies to begin exporting local products as people around the world become curious about other cultures through Internet interaction and world travel. The process of selling food is unique compared to other consumer products.


Asia Can Be in Your Company’s Future

There are many countries to choose from when it comes to exporting. There are many important decisions for an exporter to make when choosing a country destination. One consideration is what is commonly called “barriers to entry”. Each country erects different walls to climb over for you to import your product or service into their country. Remember “export here means import there.”

To research the country of your choice go to Export.Gov at http://export.gov/mrktresearch/index.asp   Access the U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library containing more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, authored by U.S. Commercial specialists working in overseas posts. Commercial Guides give you a better understanding of the opportunities and obstacles you need to consider. All these Guides are available free of charge from your pre-paid tax dollars. They are very complete, filled with facts and links to an abundance of valuable information.   
The online Research Library includes the most up to date information on:
·   Country Commercial Guides (read latest “Doing Business In” guides)
·   Industry Overviews*
·   Market Updates*
·   Multilateral Development Bank Reports*
·   Best Markets*
·   Industry/Regional Reports*

It is useful for you to look through the Basic Guide to Exporting found at http://export.gov/exportbasics/  to see what to expect before exporting.

Packaging your product the first time on Guam for Asian distribution in the future.
 Red Flag
Guam products are often packaged for a Guam consumer. Guam companies will invest large sums of money in packaging only to find the Japanese and other Asian tourists on Guam reluctant to buy the product. For example, in some cases the reason a Guam product does not sell is packaging mistakes that do not attract an Asian buyer. You must start out with your Asian consumer in mind when you begin packaging for the local Guam market. Do not invest in large amounts of packaging until you know the Asian consumer likes it and will purchase your product.

The first time an export plan is developed, it should be kept simple. It need be only a few pages long, since important market data and planning elements may not yet be available. The initial planning effort gradually generates more information and insight. As you learn more about exporting and your company's competitive position, the export plan will become more detailed and complete.

As you can imagine, many foreign markets differ greatly from the United States. Once you have decided that your company is able and committed to exporting, the next step is to develop a marketing plan.

A clearly written marketing strategy offers six immediate benefits:

1.      Written plans display strengths and weaknesses and they help in formulating and polishing an export strategy.
2.      Those charged with executing the written plan cannot easily forget or ignore necessary steps.
3.      Written plans are easier to communicate to others and are less likely to be misunderstood.
4.      Written plans allocate responsibilities and provide for an evaluation of results.
5.      Written plans are helpful when seeking financial assistance. It indicates to lenders that you have a serious approach to the export venture.
6.      Written plans give management a clear understanding of what will be required of them and thus help to ensure a commitment to exporting.

The purposes of the export plan are:

1.      To assemble facts, constraints, and goals.
2.      To create an action statement that takes all of these into account. The action statement includes specific objectives, sets forth time schedules for implementation, and marks milestones so that degrees of success can be measured.

Questions to consider:

1.      Which products will you select for export development?
2.      What modifications, if any, are necessary to adapt for overseas markets?
3.      Which country will you target for sales development?
4.      In each country:
a.       What is the basic customer profile?
b.      What marketing and distribution channels will you use to reach customers?
5.      What special challenges pertain to each market (competition, cultural differences, import controls, etc.)?
6.      What strategy will you use to address them?

Monday, June 17, 2013


By: Lisa Abraham
(Palau SBDC)

The Youth Entrepreneur Solutions (YES) Action plan launched Phase 2 of its program on March
15, 2013. The theme for this year’s business plan training and competition was: “Building the Spirit of

The YES Action Plan was first launched in April 2012 and is a joint initiative under the Small Business
Development Center of Palau (SBDC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Participants, members of PNYC, and President Remengesau pose with the YES Action Plan Banner.
The initiative “seeks to encourage the development of a dynamic business community in the young
generation” and “[reduce] the costs associated with youth unemployment, and in-turn minimizes youth
social conflict and segregation, by helping them achieve economic independence, and help improve
their self-esteem.”

The participants who completed the YES Action Plan-Phase 1 are: Pauleen K. Brechtefeld, Meked
Besebes, Olkeriil Kazuo, C. Merirei Ongelungel, Emily Loughlin and Jordy Ngiraidis. Their respective
business plans ranged from organically-produced beauty products to healthcare services. All six finalists
are either presently in-business or continuing to refine their business plans.

The YES Action Plan-Phase 2 was open to the Palauan youth who have completed high school and are between the ages of 18 through 35. Participants committed to approximately 40 class room hours, plus at least 25
hours with their business mentors.

MOU Between Palau SBDC, PNYC Signed on Youth Day
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by President Tommy E. Remengesau, Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Baklai Temengil, Palau Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Executive Director Lisa K. Abraham and Palau National Youth Council (PNYC) President Hayden Seklii on March 15, 2013—Youth Day in the Republic of Palau.

The purpose of the MOU is to “create the conditions that will enable the launching and sustainability of a YES Business Incubator to be locally situated on PYNC premises with business support assistance through the PNYC and SBDC.”

President Tommy Remengesau is seen here signing the MOU between Palau SBDC and PNYC.
The primary objectives of the MOU are to: (i) allow access to space for minimal rental fees and shared utility costs; (ii) grow the local private sector; (iii) expand employment opportunities; (iv) skill-set development and capacity building for young entrepreneurs and (v) the “creation of an enduring and effective relationship between the PNYC and the Palau SBDC.”

The MOU signing on Youth Day 2013 marked the official launch of the YES business plan competition’s second phase, and the signing was attended by the new wave of participants. To date, there are sixteen (16) participants from Koror and seven (7) participants from Babeldaob.

This second phase of the YES program was opened to the Palauan youth who have completed high school and are between the ages of 18 through 35. Participants are expected to commit to approximately 20 classroom hours, with guest speakers and business site visits for exposure. They are also expected to spend at least 25 hours working with their business mentors.


Friday, June 14, 2013

JR Bakery & Catering: New Inventory will Improve Business

By: James Limar

JR Bakery and Catering opened its door for business at the end of last year.  Its focus thus far has been on one bread product donuts, locally known as “tempura” which has been available to customers since the opening of business.  When fully operational, the owner plans to add three other lines of bread products and food catering which will target the lunch crowd in Colonia, conferences, and social events on island by offering ready-to-eat packaged meals.

JR Gooflan, owner of JR Bakery (in red), and staff at work.

      JRGooflan is the owner of the new operation.  He is a born-resident of Yap and was involved in his family business that once had a bakery and food catering component for several years. The exposure to and the experience gained from his involvement in the family business inspired him early on to continue to have an interest in baking and food catering as an eventual business undertaking.   His business location is right by the main road going through the Village of Rumuu which is about a five-minute drive from Colonia going north.  He sells on site at his location and also through intermediary retailers in Colonia and nearby locations.
What was once a mere business idea that recently reached fruition was made possible by business loan financing from the Pacific Islands Development Bank.  JR availed himself of the services of the Yap Small Business Development Center.  A counselor of the Center worked with him to develop his business plan which eventually was submitted as a loan package to the bank.  While awaiting review by the bank for his loan request, JR attended several workshops conducted by the Yap SBDC on simple business records-keeping and how to manually generate financial statements.
JR is still missing an essential piece of equipment for his business.  His bread oven is still under order which is to be fabricated locally.  He is, however, in contact with the vendor and he should be well underway to full operation as soon as he overcomes the hurdle of having the oven delivered.  His business currently employs two people, including himself. He will add a third employee once fully operational.   
His advice to other aspiring business individuals is “to make sure you have a genuine passion to go into business and be prepared to put in the hard work required and live up to the challenges of being a business owner”.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Island Girl Coffee n' Quenchers Opens their New YIGO Location

By: Jerry Crawford
Business Consultant
(Guam SBDC)

Island Girl Coffee ‘n Quenchers now has two places to serve you located at their original location in Maite and their new location in Yigo. The Yigo location offers the same convenient drive through with coffee brewed from the finest Arabica beans from across the globe, sourced from an artisan Italian roaster in the North American coffee capital of Seattle. They proudly serve Guam the wildly popular, high quality, and award winning CaffĂ© D'Arte - an aromatic and delicious coffee roasted in the Italian tradition. These rich blends are certain to please sleepy taste buds!

“Congratulations, Connie and Jeff Hurley, on the opening of your second coffee drive through stand in Yigo. Readers want to know how you do it.”

Jeff says, “First we had a vision of our business. Then we put that vision on paper with a five year written business plan with thanks to Jerry Crawford at the Small Business Development Center. Once we had a detailed business plan, we began taking steps to implement each phase of the plan. We used the Small Business Development Center resources to learn about available financing on Guam. We successfully opened Island Girl Coffee ‘n Quenchers in Maite a year ago.

Three months after opening in Maite, we began taking steps to implement the next phase of our business plan…a second location. We spent months locating just the right spot with a good daily vehicle count, excellent access, and can easily be seen. We found it in Yigo. At the same time, we contracted for the building of the next facility and began obtaining permits and licenses. The second Island Girl took over nine months, from start to grand opening. Now that we have created a repeatable business model, the next Island Girl will likely take even less time to open.”

Speaking of a repeatable model, has your business changed much from the first vision?

Connie comments, “In many ways we remain true to our first vision but there has been significant tweaking along the way to meet the needs of our consumers. We have added on breakfast sandwiches and select oatmeal blends as our busy patrons wanted an eat-it-on-the-go nutritious breakfast. We have experimented with coffee and drink flavors adding in specialty teas, energy drinks, specialty waters, and new coffee flavorings as customers request them or we see new trends emerging in the ever-changing coffee market.”

What is the most important part of your business model?

Connie says, “Absolutely, it is our great staff! You are only as good as your customer service. We hire local people with friendly and ‘get it done right’ attitudes. We are happy to have added 16 employees on Guam. Our repeat clientele will tell you we have the best Baristas on the island and we agree. As owners, we take on the responsibility of hiring great people and offering excellent training in customer service. If your drink is not right, bring it back and we will make a new one! We guarantee our work.”

Once again, congratulations on your second store. Visit Island Girl Coffee ‘n Quenchers website at: www.islandgirlofguam.com or Facebook at: Island Girl Coffee

Of course, stop by one of their two locations:
Route 8 in Maite in front of Synergy Studio
Marine Corp Drive & in the Yigo Payless parking lot

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Coco-Jo's Cookies are a Big Hit in Japan!

By: Jerry Crawford
Business Consultant
(Guam SBDC)

Who says Guam can’t be an export nation? Coco-Jo’s cookies have taken the lead to demonstrate faith in our island culture and the things we can offer the world. “Our cookies have captured the heart and taste buds of the Japanese tourist,” stated Charles and Denise Selk owners of Coco-Jo’s. The years of hard work as a family business have begun to pay off for this “Jungle Based Business”. Located in the lovely village of Inarajan just steps from the clear blue ocean waters, the Selks have proven that you can maintain your family values, work close to home and enjoy island life. Coco-Jo’s has become a local success selling delicious cookies in many island stores from Payless to Duty Free Stores. The term “accidental exporter” applies to the Selk’s business growth into Asia. They were contacted by a Japanese company and asked to send cookie samples for taste tests. After several months of effort on the part of both, the Exporter, Coco-Jo’s and the Japanese importer, a pallet of cookies left Guam headed for Japan. The Selks explain that at this point they found out they were not alone in the business of exporting. The cookie shipment ran into an immigration problem and was turned back at the border. The Selks contacted their SBDC counselor Jerry Crawford and explained the problem. “Jerry was an amazing help and support to us during this challenging time in our business expansion” stated Charles Selk.

“He contacted the US Embassy in Japan and US Commercial services in Hawaii and in a few short hours we had the answers we needed and saved the relationship with the Japanese importer”.  The needed recipe revisions were made and before long another pallet of Guam cookies left the port bound for Japan. The business has seen steady growth month after month in the number of pallets shipped to Japan. Before long the Japanese distributor made a trip to Guam and said, “we need more Guam products like yours for export to our company in Japan”. The Selks have worked introducing other island business people to the opportunity to sell in Japan. Next time you’re at the store, buy a box of Coco-Jo’s cookies and take them home and ask yourself, “why not expand our business”, “why not starts a business with export potential”?
Remember, you are not alone. The SBDC is here to help you. Research help, business and financial planning, export assistance, and much more. Our services are free. Let us help you succeed like the Selks and then we can write your story for the world to read.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SBA Honors Guam's Best Entrepreneurs and Champions

By: Kenneth Lujan
Branch Manager
(SBA Guam)

Guam’s top entrepreneurs were honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at their annual Small Business Awards ceremony at the Latte of Freedom, Multi-purpose Conference Center in Adelup on April 3, 2013.  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the SBA, and the 23rd year since Guam was allowed to establish state winners along with the 50 states, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

Small business owners from across the island were honored for their accomplishments as the island’s leading small businesses and champion of small businesses.  “Small businesses drive Guam’s economy, creating jobs and opportunities for the island in every sector across the island region,” said SBA Guam Branch Manager Kenneth Lujan.  “The SBA is very proud of the vital role it plays in enabling Guam’s entrepreneurs to succeed. We are excited to be able to recognize a few of these great success stories during these economic times.”

The 2013 Guam Award Winners and Champions are as follows:

·         Christopher F. Bejado – Small Business Person of the Year
·         Eduardo R. Ilao – Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year
·         Patricia B. Salas – Financial Services Champion of the Year
·         Anita Borja Enriquez, D.B.A. – Women In Business Champion of the Year
·         Frederick J. Horecky – Minority Small Business Champion of the Year
·         Ronald M. Young - Entrepreneurial Success Award

Guam’s Small Business Award Winners and recipients of the Champion awards were nominated by local lending institutions, chambers of commerce, business organizations and government agencies.

2013 Women in Business Champion of the Year

Dr. Anita B. Enriquez,
Dean, School of Business and Public Administration,
University of Guam
SBA’s 2013 Women in Business Champion of the Year, Anita Borja Enriquez, blends the business philosophies of the “old school” with that of the “new school” to balance the scales of education and entrepreneurship. As Dean of the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Guam, Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez recognizes the value fo education through her parents and hard work.
Growing up in the southern village of Agat along with six other siblings, Anita assisted her mother in supporting their family by working at her mother’s small grocery store. She learned very early in her life that she should not depend on others, but instead work hard to achieve her dreams of success. A former corporate planning and development manager and management consultant, she established her first business at the age of 19 as “Anita J. Borja’s Bookkeeping Services”.
A strong proponent of economic development, Anita established the UOG Pacific Center for Economic Initiatives in 2006, and has secured over $1 million in technical assistant grants from the U.S Dept. of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the Defense Logistics Agency in 2008 to establish the Guam Procurement Technical Assistance Center, the U.S Small Business Administration to establish the new Guam Veterans Business Outreach Center, and the Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs to support a community and economic development forum in 2009 and to launch the “Buy Local Guam” marketing educational campaignn in 2011. She also oversees the Guam Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which is funded in part by the U.S Small Business Administration, along with the Women in Business program which is funded by the Bank of Guam. All these programs have all benefited the interest of women entreprenuership and support economic and developmental growth of our region.
Anita’s love for her island and the need to improve upon the overall quality of life for its residents is most evident in her work with economic development and small business development. She mentors the SIGMA Society, Soroptimist college club that focuses on “best for women” and counsels up and coming female entrepreneurs. She transfers this passion to her students, peers, and  leaders in the community every day at the University of Guam and in the many civic and social organizations she assists.
Reflecting on her parents’ early experiences as entrepreneurs, with limited knowledge and lack of funding resources, helped to explain her strong advocay for leveraging as much resources as possible to help small businesses, particularly women-owned small businesses, succed in the marketplace. Guam is proud to have the distinct honor of having Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez as the SBA’s 2013 Women In Business Champion of the Year!

Small Business Person of the Year

Kenneth Lujan, SBA Guam Branch Manager with Chris Bejado, 2013 Small Business Person of the Year recipient.
Infusing the best Chamorro cuisine, Hafa Adai spirit and worldy refinement are ingredients for success used by SBA’s 2013 Small Business Person of the Year, Christopher F. Bejado. He, along with business partner, Geoffery Perez, embodies the philosophy that is synonymous to that of their company name; PROA and Marianas Slingstone – the proa canoe, known for its incredible speed and agility, and the slingstone for its brilliant accuracy.
The son of a Filipino migrant, Chris grew up learning about the challenges and rewards of small business ownership by studying his father at work every day. After obtaining a degree in Travel Industry Management in Hawaii, he discovered a love for the restaurant business. At age 23, Chris returned to Guam and opened his first restaurant, De Niro’s Pasta Kitchen. While the restaurant remained open for two years, he quickly learned from his experience, working for other companies.
In 2006, PROA opened with 12 employees. Noting one of his proudest accomplishments of being able to provide employment and career opportunities for local youth and remembering his aspirations as a young college student, Chris builds on his staff’s desire for inspiration and a way to creatively use their talents. Along with his management team, they take every opportunity to nurture them and hopefully instill a passion for cooking or for small business ownership. They also stay true to its philosophy  of farm-fresh local ingredients, warm hospitality, attentive service and innovative food pairings. They maintain a strong visibility and presence at all food events and competitions, aiming to maintain an elevated presence for Chamorro cuisine. Their presence at local culinary events and their 2011 win at the Micronesian Chef’s Cup was a testament to their philosophy of quality, innovation, and warmth. In November 2012, PROA opened its 2nd restaurant in the heart of Hagatna as a way to revitalize the capital of Guam.
Chris has always believed that giving back to the community is an important civic duty. He has contributed much time and resources to organizations such as the Guam Humanities Council, Guam Educational Radio Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. His contributions to our love of our food, our hospitality and our uniqueness are immeasureable. He would like to be the venue that introduces these young individuals to the excitement and challenges of the restaurant and hospitality industries, and hopefully enage them to become entrepreneurs in the future. The journey looks bright for this year’s SBA 2013 Small Business Person of the Year!

Monday, June 10, 2013

GET, LLC: GETting the Job Done

By: Fred Granillo
Business Consultant
(Guam SBDC)

Shawn and Tricia Gumataotao, owners of GET LLC, stand near their new aerial boom lift.

Tricia Gumataotao is a southern girl, originally from the village of Agat. Tricia is married to Shawn Gumataotao for 17 years and together has five children.  They are proud residents of Southern Guam and have been a part of the Talofofo community since 2001.  With a banking career that spanned nearly two decades including a stint with the U.S Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Tricia has spent much of her time in the workforce dedicated to providing the best customer service, while developing skills in finance, accounting and compliance. Shawn spent over a decade in broadcast journalism where he gained valuable experience in research, communication and effective writing. He also spent two terms as an appointed official to serve the people of Guam working directly with the Governor on very important issues affecting the island. Collectively, their experiences have focused overall on service, which they believe has been lacking in today's Guam businesses.  This idea of quality service is something they are establishing into the fabric of their business so it becomes a part of their company culture.  Further, they personally seek to reinforce this concept of service into the minds of their kids who very regularly are seeking opportunities to participate in school and sports activities.
 The Gumataotao’s have always dreamt of owning a business.  Both Tricia and Shawn were at a crossroads a couple of years ago as Shawn left the government and Tricia’s term with the USDA ended. The time was ripe for them to finally seek their own business opportunity.  Taking the collective experiences as well as government and business connections developed over the years, they felt that they could provide unique solutions to businesses and at a level of service that is different.  As such, GET, LLC was born in 2012 and they have not looked back. For them, customer service is not just a catch phrase-it is their way of life.  Through their business, they intend on contributing positively to the Guam economy in a more active and socially responsive way.  Taking the combination of those business and government experiences and passing them to their consulting and construction materials and supplies business segments has been life changing for them. Plus, they are starting to see a profitable future for their business. 
 The Gumataotao’s started their business primarily to continue taking care of their family and paying the bills. As they transitioned from their regular jobs it was important for them to quickly identify sources of income. Hence, they created a formal business entity with two distinct purposes: to provide business-to-business consulting services and construction materials and supplies.  They have since added a third segment, equipment rental, which is now providing a steady source of income. They took aspects of their previous jobs-public relations, business development, notary public services, public policy creation, program administration-and put them together to provide a "one-stop" shop for those in Guam or interested in coming to Guam to do business here.  Then, they leveraged those business and government contacts to create a new business. The Gumataotao’s believe the U.S. Territory offers unique opportunities and advantages and further believe their business can help customers improve their bottom lines and allow for increased opportunities that may not have been realized in their first glance into working in Guam and the Western Pacific.

The Gumataotao’s noted their business counselor, Fred Granillo, has been instrumental in getting their business to where it is today.  Further, the business advice and professionalism they have received from the SBDC continues to inspire them to strive for more.  In particular, when it came to assistance in refining the business plan and financial projections that were required and highly contributory to securing a business loan with the Bank of Guam. They also found that the SBDC is an important asset to all of Guam's small businesses and encourage more to take advantage of their services they provide including business education, business plan development, finance advice, overall bookkeeping requirements and human resources information.
The start-up process was tedious for the Gumataotao’s.  From the completion of the limited liability company documents, completing the business license process at Guam Rev and Tax, completing the business plan, and securing a business loan through the Bank of Guam, the start-up process was a lesson in patience, perseverance and hard-work. But well worth all the effort and stress as the company is properly established and has a clear direction with the business plan.
The business was initially funded through personal savings. Although they knew the use of the personal funds was a risk, they were determined to make the business a success. Through hard work they were able to secure a number of different contracts and projects within a six month period. These contracts eventually assisted the business in obtaining an equipment loan with the Bank of Guam in support of their business activities.
The biggest challenge in starting up the business was just engaging their attorney in establishing the company.  They were admittedly nervous on what the future held for them in the very competitive marketplace.  But with each successive meeting and contract, things have gotten better.  The market research also was challenging.  Especially, the decision to take on a few strategic forays into the furniture, LED Lighting, structured cabling and aerial lift industry has yielded great opportunity for them. With a similar approach to the consulting business segment has also yielded strong interest in a number of different sectors from public policy, marketing and construction. 
 The completion of the company documents, including the business license and business plan, was instrumental in shaping how the business would either thrive or die.  Less than a year later, they have secured strategic partnerships and new business opportunities that they feel in the future will make them even stronger as an organization.  Also the addition of a strategic web presence, complete with website, galleries and blog, has given the business a much larger visibility in Guam and from around the world.
 The Gumataotao’s goals are in the short term-secure initial equipment sales with a large construction company.  Long term-expanded consulting work in the region and an investment in new equipment and permanent office location.
 The Gumataotao’s are pro-business and would advise anyone to just follow their dreams of business ownership. However, they would caution to properly plan and fund a business for optimal opportunity for success.  Guam has many talented people who have great ideas-a key to financial success.  They would also advise don't be limited to what others may say you can do and always remember to work beyond your comfort levels as the next best opportunity may be closer than you may think.  Remember to give the highest quality of customer service that you can as that will differentiate your business from those whose focus is sometimes far from this great ideal in business.

Friday, June 7, 2013


By: Jerry Crawford
Business Consultant
(Guam SBDC)

Barbara McCarron is perhaps one of the happiest and busiest ladies on Guam selling her Tropic Blends Body Oil. We sat down recently with Barbara to hear how business is doing.

“Sales are booming at Two Lover’s Point, Gun Beach Gift Shop, Chamorro Village, Dollar Discount Micronesian Mall, as well as in a variety of other mom & pop stores throughout the island. Tourists love the product as well as our locals. The oil is a blend of coconut oil with two other oils which together create a beautiful light colored oil that absorbs immediately into skin. People often tell me they use it on their hair too.”

We asked, “What’s the secret to your success?”

Barbara pointed out, “I am constantly testing my market. What I mean is I create new fragrances I believe tourists or locals may like. I then have the retail sales people track how well the new fragrances do and what the customers are saying. I started my company with bar soap and the body oil line with four fragrances. I decided to discontinue large manufacturing of soap and concentrate on the body oil line. I now have ten established body oil fragrances with two more new fragrances currently being market tested. As trends change in the world market, I change with them. Last year heavy flower scents were my most requested. This year I am seeing a move toward the clean citrus and spice scents.

Another market that has surprised me is the Micronesian community. They love the fresh scents and use the oil on both their hair and body. I am seeing sales increase about 25-30% each quarter in this specific market.

It has been interesting to watch the world come to the conclusion that coconut oil is great for skin and hair. The world market is asking for it. I have an inquiry from Japan to export my product to them and I
 have made contact in Hong Kong. I also have Saipan and Palau asking for my products. Jerry Crawford, with SBDC, has assisted me in preparing my product for the export market.”

We asked, “How so?”

Barbara enthusiastically said, “Jerry has taken the mystery out of how to export. He has carefully walked me through the basics of export, explained my roll and tasks, as well as the role and tasks of shippers, distributors, and retailers. He explained how I get paid by foreign distributors with no risk. His clear picture of who does what took away my fear of exporting. My role and tasks to export are no more complicated or difficult than what I do for retailers in our local market. I was surprised to learn that foreign distributors often want to purchase my product in bulk. They will then have the oil bottled and labeled on their side for distribution to their retailers. In many ways it is easier to export my oils in bulk, without packaging and labeling, than making up the four ounce bottles with labels for retail sales on Guam.  In fact, I am embracing this next phase of my business…export to world markets.”

Visit Tropic Soap and Tropic Blends Body Oil website at: www.tropicsoap.com 

Conscious BEauty & WELL-being Spatique opens in Tamuning

By: Denise Mendiola-Hertslet
Senior Business Counselor, WIB Program Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

Yolanda Bordallo was born and raised on Guam and attended San Diego State University.  Upon graduation, she opened an import furnishing store but closed her doors three years after due to the recession. She considered this a “fabulous experience!” Afterwards, Yolanda focused mostly in sales; always top dog but not high ticket items and a few management positions that she found very interesting.  Then she decided to go into an area which she found was fun for her.  She began studying skincare and massage and worked in a couple of “natural spas” and stocked personal care products for a small natural retailer who went out of business.   Yolanda thought this was a great opportunity to move this stock to Guam and then relocate home to be near family and be a part of the natural, green movement starting up on Island.

Yolanda Bordallo, owner of Conscious BEauty & WELL-being Spatique

Why did you decide to start your own business?
YB: I thought it was a good opportunity in a niche market.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
YB: I worked in a couple of natural spas, then retail sales with an existing natural retailer.  I did independent sales for several natural skincare/food product lines, and attended numerous Skincare, Spa, BEauty, Holistic Health and Wellness, Natural and Organic Products, and Green Industry Tradeshows.

How did the Guam Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
YB: I have attended several workshops which were helpful.  The counselors showed me the need to do a business plan, so I could understand my business, where I was going and what I needed to do to get there.  This was important to me, especially if I was going to seek funding.

What was the start-up process like?
YB: I brought everything (inventory and supplies) that I had from San Diego because I was planning on moving back to Guam.

How did you fund your business?
YB: A good friend of mine gave me start-up money and then I used every penny I had towards equipment and more inventory.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in the start-up process.
YB: Marketing the business seemed too expensive and I had virtually no funds.  I am not savvy with social marketing, though I am forcing myself to do it now out of necessity!

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
YB: Just having it all come together as far as timing with Dr. Horinouchi's Wellness Clinic…This is an interesting story!   The very first day he learned he would be leaving SDA was the day that I came into his office and introduced myself and suggested we team up!  Before I arrived to Guam, I had it in my mind that I would like to join up with a Wellness Clinic.  And, it has worked out, with God’s blessing of course!

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
YB: Clearing out existing inventory, paring down inventory and stock to strictly therapeutic products, and focusing on marketing the business.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
YB: Be very conservative with inventory.  Keep expenses low... and market aggressively!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

SUP SPN, Locally Owned and Family Run!

By Perry Inos Jr.

Ponce and Merrisa Rasa, owners of SUP SPN, have lived in the CNMI most their lives.  Growing their family into a family of five in the CNMI, which includes Thia, Kaya, and Iris Rasa, allowed them to be accustomed to island lifestyle.  The Rasa’s started a business venture they loved, which allowed them “a way to pursue our love of water sports, and most importantly engage our family at the same time,” stated the Rasa’s.
Ponce and Merissa Rasa
With the potential the CNMI has, the Rasa’s took on the challenge to start a business.  Merissa Rasa stated, “We thought what better than to have a business where we could invest our time promoting islands, doing what we love, and make money doing it.”  SUP boarding, native to Hawaii, was among the hobbies of the Rasa’s, therefore, what more than “to bring a little piece of Hawaii here.” Following the ocean adventure trends, the Rasa’s recognized the increase in SUP boarding enthusiasts around the world in the last three years.  Having fun in the sun, spending time with family, and creating a healthy physical lifestyle under the sun “was the beginning of the idea to start our own business.” stated the Rasa’s.
Ponce and Merissa are experienced in customer service, sales, and management positions plus the assistance at the CNMI Small Business Development Center allowed them to be confident to fund and start SUP SPN. The Rasa’s stated, “The one-on-one small business counseling by Director Perry A. Inos Jr. was extremely helpful.  Mr. Inos possesses extensive knowledge and technical expertise, which prepared us to move forward with aspects of [our] business plan.”
Also, moving past the business idea and implementing the start up process “was very exciting” for the Rasa’s. They found the joy and thrill o letting family and friends know of the new family business venture and received positive feedback from all that heard of their endeavor. The start up process was not easy for the Rasa’s, “but the learning, stress, frustrations, and sleepless nights that came with the process, was all expected.”  Staying positive and pushing through the hurdles sent them moving forward.  With their owner’s investment the Rasa’s funded their startup expenses to start SUP SPN.
Now, the biggest challenge was figuring out how they would get the equipment needed from abroad with the SUP board distributors.   They found the difficulty of increasing a SUP boarding business venture, which will be a mobile operation. This would have been difficult to explain the procedures to attain a business license in the CNMI as it was the first of its kind here.  Despite the difficulties, the Rasa’s stated, "Everything had fallen into place.”
Ponce and Merissa found that their biggest accomplishment was when they “purchased our SUP equipment from a surf company in San Diego and the invoice said ‘paid in full’.”

From left: Justice "Cuki" Alvarez, Mariana Palacios, Shane Alvarez, Alverick Alvarez, Frank "The Crank" Camacho, Peachy Rasa, and Mark "The Dark" Nique pose with the SUP SPN equipment.

SUP SPN sees its short term goal for the first year “to rent all SUP units eight hundred and forty times and recuperate investment cost.”  For their long term goal, SUP SPN projects “to increase SUP paddlers, to increase the number of SUP equipment on hand, to host annual Saipan SUP races/events, and to open a water sports shop for rental and retail in the Surf Rider Hotel.”
Lastly, the advice Ponce and Merissa Rasa gives to others regarding starting a business is “to visit the CNMI SBDC to make it happen by figuring out what you love doing and work towards having the best or being the best at whatever you choose to do.” SUP SPN’s mobile operation is open on weekends and legal holidays from 9am-5pm, however they will accommodate other days and times for request made in advance. For inquiries contact SUP SPN at (670) 285-8110 or via email at supspn1@gmail.com.
To learn more about the CNMI SBDC’s programs and services, call (670)664-3018 or visit our website at www.pacificsbdc.com.