Import/export businesses match domestic and foreign buyers and sellers of various products and commodities. Import/export companies typically have low overhead costs and lean business models, allowing them to reap sizable profits for a minimal investment. Sales, marketing and relationships are the crucial elements that can make or break a new import/export business, as is paying attention to all local legal issues.
Decide which type of import/export business you wish to start. According to Entrepreneur.com, there are three main types of import/export companies. Start an export management company if you wish to partner with domestic sellers to find foreign buyers for a small group of companies over a long term. Form an export trading company if you wish to serve foreign buyers by matching them with domestic suppliers who can serve their needs. Become an import/export merchant if you wish to purchase merchandise on your own and sell it in foreign or domestic markets, keeping all profits and assuming all risks.
Register your business, and obtain any required licenses and permits. According to My Own Business website, the U.S. does not require licensing for exporting or importing most products. Exporting products on the Department of Commerce's restricted Commerce Control List, however, requires special licenses.
Choose a target niche to focus on in the early stage of your business. Import/export activities cover such a vast range of industries that new companies can benefit from focusing on a single target at first to gain experience and establish a reputation. You may choose to focus on the food segment at first, for example, importing out-of-season produce and inexpensive foreign staples, such as rice.
Establish foreign and domestic contacts in your niche. This may be the most time-consuming step involved in starting your own import/export business. Compile lists of all foreign and domestic businesses in your chosen niche, and begin a direct sales and marketing campaign. Place calls, send emails and mail marketing materials directly to sales and purchasing managers in each company, and always follow up on all conversations and agreements.
Determine the needs and product offerings of each of your contacts, and begin to make connections. Compile a list of all the companies that expressed an interest in doing business with you in the previous step. Contact the purchasing and sales managers in each company to discover which products they have to offer to foreign buyers, and which products and materials they wish to purchase from a foreign source.
Original Source: smallbusiness.chron.com
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