Encouraging entrepreneurial success on Saipan, Tinian and Rota, CNMI*!

*Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory.

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In Preparation for the Future


The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

As a smart entrepreneur, you realize that your future income can come from a variety of sources—contracts with the government, purchases by the military, grants from private institutions, customers overseas, local as well as visiting (tourists). You also realize that present and future economic opportunities are influenced by local, national as well as global trends, laws and perspectives.

Here, then, are a few things the forward-thinking entrepreneur here in the CNMI might wish to do to anticipate, prepare, position, and capitalize on the future.

1. Position yourself as a government contractor.

Every year, billions of dollars in federally funded contracts are set aside for small business owners who choose to do business with the government. You may qualify for these set-asides as a "disadvantaged*" small business owner.

The term "disadvantaged" refers to "Individuals who [given the history of the US] have been subjected to gender, racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias without regard to their qualities as individuals, and whose abilities to compete (therefore) are impaired because of diminished opportunities to obtain capital and credit.”

Therefore, your first step to gaining access to these funds as a woman-owned, minority-owned, native-owned, Asian-Pacific owned, or veteran-owned business, is to register. Visit www.ccr.gov—the Central Contractor Registration site—to get started. (Additional steps in a future article)

2. Find out what the military purchases

We’ve all no doubt heard of the so-called “military build-up” that’s in the works for Guam.

If your strategy for the future includes capitalizing on this eventuality, then now’s the time to do a Google.com (or other search engine) search for "selling to the military" and click on the result that starts with "http://permanent.access.gpo.gov..." where you’ll find sections titled:

-GENERAL INFORMATION

-ITEMS PURCHASED

-LOCATION OF MILITARY PURCHASING OFFICES.

This information will help you get an idea of what products and services may start to be in demand once the influx of military personnel starts in this region. Position yourself early.

3. Research what Chinese vacationers want and need

According to the latest news, direct Shanghai to Saipan flights will begin serving the CNMI on September 29, 2008. What do you know about Chinese people, culture, habits, vacation expectations that can put you or your business ahead of the curve? There’s more to know than just a few words in Mandarin.

4. Investigate ways to cool homes without air conditioning

Roof insulation of various types are often a cost-efficient way to reduce the indoor temperature of your home by as much as 7 degrees (C) or 12 degrees (F). Since I’m probably the only one on island who doesn’t mind a hot house, you should have a good number of potential clients here willing to reduce their long-term electricity bills with a one-time roof rehab.

Perhaps you can offer a payment plan to ease the burden. Or perhaps a project to outfit the CNMI with energy-efficient "green" homes may qualify your business for a government or private grant of some sort.

5. Get going on going ‘green’

Speaking of going “green,” according to the latest news: "Pending legislation may require government agencies to award 5 percent of contract dollars to "Green" businesses. Five percent is the equivalent of approximately $22 billion in government contracts." Offering energy-efficient building supplies, green landscaping, lighting, heating and even green-minded consulting services may be your ticket to these dollars. Get going now! Check out www.business.gov for more information.

6. Familiarize yourself with the CNMI Zoning Law

The new Saipan—what and where certain types of businesses will exist—will be influenced greatly by the 2007 zoning requirements. Visit www.zoning.gov.mp to download a copy.

7. Compile a list of our advantages

"What advantages?" you say? Well, even with increasing minimum wage, federalization, and a changing global economy, there are still advantages to doing business in the CNMI.

According to cnmi-guide.com: "There are two little known tax regulations that may be of substantial benefit to some individuals and corporations. One is a United States Internal Revenue tax credit for U. S. “possessions” corporations and the other concerns the application of CNMI tax rates on the sale of appreciated property outside the Commonwealth.

Check out the Department of Public Lands website at www.dpl.gov.mp, as well as cnmi-guide.com for more information on Saipan’s, Tinian’s and Rota’s free trade zones, tax advantages and benefits of doing business on these islands. For example, let’s consider the Jones Act.

The Jones Act exemption: Because of the Jones Act, all commodities ordered for Guam, for instance, from the U.S. mainland must, by law, be transported on U. S. flag carriers and are thus subject to freight rates much higher than would otherwise be the case had they been carried on foreign flag ships with their lower freight rates.

Perhaps, as suggested on the www.cnmi-guide.com site, shipping goods from Asian ports to Saipan FIRST and THEN to Guam could result in lower costs overall for the region.

8. Change your perspective

Finally, here are a few random thoughts to consider:

- All societies go through changes that range from minor bumps in the road to major upheavals.

- We are currently going through a transition.

- To survive a transition, it is often more important to have a strategy, than an opinion.

- This period may not be a good time for everybody, but it can be a good time for somebody.

- Anybody can see the path during the good weather, but it takes a real visionary to see and walk the path during the bad weather. This is a time for visionaries.

- There is a void being created that needs to be filled. Regardless of what happens, this void will eventually be filled by someone.

The above preparation and positioning suggestions, as well as changing your perspective on what is occurring, are just a few of the many things you can do to prepare for and survive the present state of affairs.

Note: For more tips on overcoming your fears, acting on your ideas, changing the game, and creating a passion-centered lifestyle, visit www.passionprofit.com!

***

Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!

Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of 12 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several successful businesses in the US, and now makes his home here in Saipan. To learn more about the Saipanpreneur Project and Walt’s philosophy and formula visit www.saipanpreneur.com and www.passionprofit.com.

Send article suggestions, entrepreneur nominations and feedback about this article to walt@passionprofit.com.

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WHERE IS SAIPAN?

where is saipan

Located in the western pacific, a short flight from Guam and 3 hours from Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a popular tourist destination rich in history, culture and natural resources. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, is the largest and most populated of the 14 islands making up an archipelago that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench.

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