Friday, December 30, 2016

Managing Personal Credit for Business Related Financing

By: Jane Ray
Business Advisor

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
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

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" 

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Miliani’s Expands Product Offerings

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

Vameline Singeo and her mom, Laverne Merep, came up with an idea to upgrade the fashion options in Palau. In August of 2013, Miliani’s was opened on main street Koror to provide name brand apparel and accessories focused primarily for women.  For the past three years, Miliani’s has been doing really well with clothing and accessories retail, especially on special seasons and occasions.

In 2015, the mother & daughter entrepreneurs realized an emerging niche created by the boom in Palau’s tourism industry. The lodging and accommodations grew exponentially with the influx of tourists visiting Palau.  They wanted to introduce a new line of products to its portfolio—hotel amenities.  For this new business venture, Miliani’s turned to Palau SBDC to help with its expansion in projecting revenue streams for their new product line and its refinancing loan package.

Over a period of six months, Palau SBDC worked with Ms. Merep providing financial training in building Miliani’s historical financial statements for its current line of products, as well as projections for its new line of hotel amenities.  QuickBooks was used in the financial training for the client and used in reproducing the historical financial statements, because the client had used QuickBooks during their start-up year.

Miliani’s was able to get the loan from National Development Bank of Palau to expand its product mix to include hotel amenities, with the assistance provided by Palau SBDC.  The products are now available for purchase at Miliani’s retail shop located along Koror’s main road in Idid hamlet.  Tourists and locals can purchase the products in-store or make arrangements for delivery of bulk purchases.  Miliani’s are open daily from 10 am to 10 pm.

For more information on how the Palau SBDC can assist you, call 680-587-6004 or visit

Friday, December 9, 2016

Discover Guam through Local Ambassadors

By: Jane Ray
Business Advisor

Martha Hara was born in National City, California and had lived abroad-wherever her father was stationed-throughout her childhood. She moved to Guam, her father’s birthplace, in 2007 to start a new journey. Through those travels and experiences with different cultures and communities, it gave her a more profound appreciation for what she is doing today.   

Hara has been the Managing Director for LIMA Corporation dba Discover Guam since October 2009. In her tenure, she managed the airport and tour operations, managed contracts for various clients, and oversaw the general management of operations. Hara has over 35 years of business operations and project management experience, over 15 years in sales, advertising, marketing, media and public relations, and eight years in the Tourism and Hospitality industry. So when the founder decided to sell the company, it only made sense to Hara to purchase the business but she just did not know how. She has always worked hard for other people, but this was her first opportunity to own a business and grow with it. 

Hara had several business associates that she approached regarding investment, but each asked if she had a business plan and financial projections. As she had never been in this position before, Hara sought assistance from the Guam Small Business Development Center (Guam SBDC). Hara met with business advisor, Jane Ray, who guided Hara with preparing the business plan and financials required to submit for an SBA commercial loan. Her biggest challenge was that she did not own any assets or have a strong credit background since her move back to Guam. Since she could not qualify for an SBA loan, Hara had to go through applying for commercial loan with a business partner who could offer his assets as collateral. 

Hara looks forward to expanding Discover Guam’s tour markets in the short term. As for Hara’s long term goal for Discover Guam, she plans to involve her children in the business so they can continue to represent Discover Guam with the Hafa Adai spirit. Hara stated, “Being Guamanian, Japanese ethnicity I enjoy the environment of both Chamorro and Japanese cultures here on Guam. As a certified tour guide, I take pride in sharing our island’s history, culture, and beauty with our visitors.” 

Discover Guam is 27 years old, debt free, and has earned an award winning reputation in the tourism industry. They offer an Airport Ambassador Program and are available for private and custom tours. For more information, visit or contact their office at 671-649-TOUR (8687). 

To inquire on the SBDC services, contact their main office at 671-735-2590 or visit