Clearly, starting a new business is no easy endeavor and with so many business books out there, its easy to get overwhelmed with information. So what I will do is identify some basic steps that are necessary to learn how to start your own import export business, and recommend some more detailed resources that I think you may find more useful in case you really want to get into the details. Don’t forget, you can easily get started expanding your business overseas by signing up for our global trade network, Globial.
The WTO valued the global international trade at approximately $28 trillion dollars in 2010, which is a multiple fold increase from 2000. With more markets opening up, and more consumers to sell to, it is likely that there will be another substantial increase in international by 2020. So import/export businesses are likely to be at the forefront of this expanding trade.
So what exactly is an import/export business (IEB)?
An IEB is essentially a match maker, who connects distributors in one market with manufacturers in another market. Manufacturers of domestic goods seek foreign distribution; and foreign manufacturers want to get into various international markets. You need to find them, make a solid connection, and establish a business relationship with these companies. For joining the two parties together, the IEB can usually charge a commission ranging from 5-10% for the task. The market is unlimited and there are hundreds of manufacturers looking for foreign distribution. Sporting goods, clocks, electronic games, radios, housewares, garments, tools – anything can be readily imported or exported if there is a consumer demand and if you can get the products.
1. Find the kind of market you want to specialize in or to become a general IEB. An example being do you want to specialize in exotic rugs or toys or etc. Essentially identify your target market. Since the market is so huge, most business publications specializing in a specific area.
2. Set yourself up. Your going to need some business basics. Entrepreneur.com had a great list of all the basics. I will give a more condensed version of that list, one that even the bare of start ups can afford.
- Computer system with modem and printer
- Fax machine
- Internet/e-mail service
- Voice mail or answering machine
- Stationery and office supplies
- And (forgive a bit of self promotion) an account on Globial.com, a network for trusted global trade
3. Make contacts. Foreign-trade.com had a great section on making contacts. According to Foreign Trade, there are various ways you can make contacts by looking up businesses in the Chamber of Commerce. You can also use Small Business Saturday, social media like Facebook, which has millions of small businesses, and even Globial.com. Where we cater specifically to international small businesses.
4. Arrange a business relationship. Clearly there are a lot of steps that go into this process. But the most important of which, is that you need to make sure that both of the parties that you are introducing to one another are reliable. If for some reason one of the parties ducks out or engages in fraud. You will be the first to come under scrutiny, since it is your job as an IEB to make sure both parties are right for one another.
There are a lot of things that go into making a successful IEB. But the most important things are trust and reputation, just like any other business. You always want to maintain the highest level of integrity and credibility, since there are many IEBs in the market and your going to have to stand out in the crowd. The best way to do that is to get referred by clients to other clients, since word of mouth is probably the most effective way to market yourself, especially if your just starting out and have few resources. To find out more in-depth info about starting your own IEB, you can check out the sites I have listed below. I felt that they were quick to the point, while also having the most detailed info about what it takes to succeed in this line of business. Good luck and join us on Globial.com to meet other potential businesses.