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How to start your own import and export business

The import and export business is a big market, with lots of room for new agents to make good money, but first you must familiarize yourself with what this type of job entails and decide whether it is right for you. This type of business is good for someone who is detail orientated, organized, self motivated, and a good salesman. The last factor is important because you will have to sell your services to those you contact in this market as well as giving off an air of confident knowledge which will encourage buyers and sellers to work with you. There is also a great deal of knowledge you must obtain long before you can begin to work with buyers and sellers. To this end it is beneficial if you have an area of expertise or contacts in the business to begin with, but it is not a requirement. Once you have finished gathering the knowledge you need and can reach out to potential clients and contacts in the areas where you wish to work and begin your export and import business.

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Starting your business

One of the biggest benefits to this type of business is the relatively low startup cost. You will need office supplies and an area set up to work from equipped with a computer, fax machine, printer and a stable connection to the Internet. If you have already assessed the qualities you need to become successful in an import/export business and decided you fit the bill, then your next step will be to begin researching the markets. You will need to understand what products are imported or exported, why and to what countries. The USA has a list of trade partners it does a large amount of exchange with already and these countries should be the first place you begin looking. Some goods are imported because they appear exotic which means they will sell for a higher price in a domestic market, while others are imported because they can be manufactured at a lower cost in other countries, while still other items are imported because they are simply not possible to obtain for that country. You will also want to keep yourself well informed about current trends and changes in markets. You will want to invest a good amount of time getting to know the language of these businesses and how they work because as you begin to make contacts you will need to be knowledgeable and know which questions to ask. You don’t get a second chance at that first impression.

Once you have invested the time to set up your work area and familiarize yourself with the markets, hopefully you will have identified at least one product market you wish to use to get started. At this point you must decide how you wish to approach the import and export business. You could focus on finding foreign buyers with a need for products which you can obtain domestically. Once you have found a buyer you then work to match them up with a supplier. Conversely you could work with domestic companies wishing to expand their business into foreign markets and seek out buyers for their products. Or you could work both sides equally becoming less focused on a particular market or product. You will need to register your business to obtain all the numbers and paperwork necessary for any business. Then, with a solid foundation of research, you can begin to send out letters to foreign countries or calling domestic companies, or both depending on how you choose to approach the market. You will begin to build a list of contacts. Some of these contacts will provide you with information about further contacts while some may be businesses with which you might end up doing business. It is important that you look and sound professional and confident at every stage of this process. You are essentially marketing yourself at this stage, and if you are just starting out you will need to be careful of your image. Once you have done your first few trades you will have a reputation, which you can build upon. A professional letterhead, business cards and answering machine would all be advisable.

You will also need people who can handle the other elements of the business efficiently. You will want a reliable freight forwarder you can work with because you will likely have a long term relationship with this person. You also want to be sure to communicate with your banker because they can give you good advice and often references. It is highly recommended to use a letter of credit to protect all involved when making sales so again your bank is invaluable. Be sure that at every stage in the process you get the appropriate paperwork from either your freight forwarder or from those directly responsible. Once you have begun the process of connecting buyers with those who can provide the merchandise, it is only a matter of keeping track of the details and staying informed of the market. As you become more experienced the process will become easier and you will find that having a solid track record will encourage other businesses to trust your services. Word of mouth from businesses that are using your services will also help to build your business. You should know from the start that while this is a relatively easy and cheap business to get started, it is not one you can sit back and watch while money rolls in. You must stay on top of the transaction details, changes in the market, new opportunities and sometimes you may be required to make business trips to personally visit clients. This can be seen as a job perk however as depending on where you do trade you will possibly visit interesting locations. If you have done all your research and work methodically, you should be successful, but it never hurts to seek out more advice and read further.

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2 Responses to “How to start your own import and export business”

  1. Opal says:

    I have read some excellent stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking
    for revisiting. I wonder how a lot effort you place to make this
    type of fantastic informative web site.

  2. mafolelo says:

    I want to export sugarcane

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