Despite the truly global nature of modern commerce, few people understand how import export business works at the ground level. The truth is that most of the goods that you see in the aisles of major chain stores get there thanks to the hard work of import/export entrepreneurs. Import/export professionals are responsible for introducing domestic buyers to overseas sellers and vice versa. You don’t need millions of dollars or any experience to launch an import/export concern on the side. Here’s one possible road map for starting your own import/export company.
Select a Niche & a Import Export Business Model
There’s practically no limit to the different types of goods that can be imported or exported provided they’re legal to make more money. You must decide on what kinds of goods to specialize in as well as the type of import/export company to form. An export management company acts as a middleman between local producers and overseas buyers or as a go-between for overseas manufacturers and local importers. Full-on import/export merchants actually buy and sell goods themselves. Unless you’re already independently wealthy, the former option is preferable for beginners.
Do the Necessary Paperwork
First off, you’ll need to register your import export business, form an LLC and get an EIN from the IRS if plan on hiring employees. Next, you’ll need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits to import and export merchandise. For the most part, Americans don’t need licenses to ship generic products that aren’t on the list of restricted items. Check the Commerce Control List published by Department of Commerce to see if you need special dispensation to ship or receive specific kinds of merchandise.
Establish Relationships with Suppliers
In the beginning, you’ll no doubt be acting more like a matchmaker that earns commissions by introducing suppliers to buyers either at home or abroad. Start looking around for exporters that you can promote to buyers for a fee. Use a buyer and seller discovery engine like Globial to streamline the process. Nowadays, being multilingual is a definite plus but hardly required. Making contacts in other countries via Google+ Local and other social networks is a great way to locate reputable exporters.
Find Buyers & Introduce Them to Sellers
Once you’ve forged business relationships with a select group of exporters, you’ll need to bring them some actual customers to earn your 10% cut. There are many ways to go about doing this. Probably the easiest way for beginners to get started is by personally contacting local mid-sized businesses in their areas regarding promising offers. Produce a brief multimedia or web-based presentation that highlights what you can do for their woodworking businesses. Be sure to focus on price as well as the quality and diversity of the merchandise.
Marketing and Expansion for Import Export Business
After you’ve locked down those first few deals, it’s time to focus on expanding the operation. Using online niche marketing to sell yourself to businesses of all sizes in various industries is a must. Social media has become increasingly important when it comes to making contacts. Use commerce-oriented sites like LinkedIn to make connections. In addition, make use of online industry forums and official trade publications to broaden your import export business horizons. Since your earnings ultimately depend on commissions, you should strive to broker larger and larger deals.
Diversifying the Operation
The import/export game can be a difficult industry in which to make a living. If you want to guarantee your long-term survival, being able to quickly adapt your popcorn side business to meet the fickle demands of consumers is a must. What’s hot today can become passe with alarming speed. As such, it’s important to diversify your operation as soon as you can.