How to Start an Import/Export Business

Start Ups
import export business

Are You Interested in International Trade?

There is money to be made in the import and export business and for several reasons. For one thing, certain products just seem to have more appeal when they come from exotic locales. Another factor that makes international trade businesses appealing is the fact that certain goods are much less expensive when purchased abroad. Finally, some products just cannot be produced in certain areas, and so importing them into one market from another creates an opportunity for both the producer and the buyer.

You may already have skills that lend themselves to certain markets or types of products…

One of the great things about import/export businesses is that they can provide good profit margins with fairly minimal investments, and manageable operating costs. However, there are certain skills that people who are successful in this business tend to have.

Salesmanship is important, as is the ability to develop rapport with clients. If you’re doing business with clients who don’t speak your native tongue, then being bilingual is definitely a plus. You’ll also have to pay close attention to the legality of importing and exporting certain things, or a potentially lucrative transaction could end up turning into a very poor business decision.

Types of Import Export Businesses

There are three basic types of import export businesses. Import/export merchants purchase goods with their own capital, and then sell them. While this business model allows the business owner to keep all of the profits, it also involves a high degree of risk, if the products don’t sell as well as initially anticipated.

Export management firms team up with domestic companies in order to export their goods abroad. Finally, export trading companies find domestic buyers for foreign goods. Many import export businesses are a hybrid of the three types listed above.

Define Your Specialty

You may already have skills that lend themselves to certain markets or types of products. For instance, if you speak Spanish and have an eye for style, you may want to think about importing clothing from Mexico. Analyze your skill set and interests, and you should have a pretty good idea about where to start.

You can always branch out into other categories of merchandise later, but starting with something you’re familiar with can only make it easier — not only for you, but also for your clients.

Making It Official

Depending on what types of products you plan to specialize in, you may need to get licensed. For example, If you’re importing military surplus, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing business well within legal bounds. Other goods, such as furniture, are not as likely to require much in the way of licensing.

You’ll also need to register your business, obtain an FEIN, and complete the usual legal requirements necessary for most businesses.

Networking Is Key

In order to make deals happen, you’ll have to get out there and find clients who have a need for your services. Start with a list of businesses in the field you’d like to specialize in. Then, contact them and find out what their needs are. You’ll want to find out who does the sales and purchasing for each company, and direct your efforts toward establishing strong business relationships with them.

For example, if you are interested in home decor, then contact a few interior designers in your area, and schedule a meeting or a phone call with them. Talk to them about what they tend to buy, if their clients’ tastes tend to follow any particular patterns, and how you might be of service in a potential partnership. When you later travel to new markets in order to find goods that you can import, you’ll have a well-trained eye and a much better sense of what you can sell when you return home.

Connecting the Dots

Once you’ve established a list of contacts who are interested in doing business with you, make a chart connecting the needs and offerings of your potential clients. From there, you just need to connect the dots, and you’re on your way.
Have you been operating a successful import/export business? Why not share your self-employed story in the comments section below!

Leave a Reply

31 Comments on "How to Start an Import/Export Business"


Guest
Antionette
25 days 14 hours ago

I am an import export business person based in the US and The Caribbean with international clients both in the USA and The Caribbean who have small business. that are looking for products to buy for resell if you have a product you will like to sell or import please contact me with pictures and prices. antionette40@hotmail.com

Guest
Ezeh Karen
1 month 26 days ago

I will like to export palm oil to countries in dire need of it. interested persons should reach me on lynneze55@yahoo.com

Guest
Eloy baeza
2 months 6 hours ago

I want to start my own import and export business. Any videos or books you recommend to get started?

Guest
Celina Wheels
2 months 7 days ago

Hello Everyone, I Celina Wheels a single mom from California USA, will like to share this great testimony on how i got my loan from Gordy’s Loans when we were driven out of our home when i couldn’t pay my bills anymore, After been scammed by various companies online and denied a loan by my bank and other some other credit union i visited. my children were taken by the foster care, i was all alone in the street. Until a day i shamefully walked into an old school mate who introduced me to Gordy’s Loans. At first i told her that i am not ready to take any risk of requesting a loan online anymore, but she assured me that i will received my loan from them. On a second thought i took due to my homelessness i took a trial and applied for the loan, luckily for me i received a loan of $50,000.00 from (gordys_loans@yahoo.com). Am happy i took the risk and applied for the loan. my kids have been given back to me and now i own a home and a business of my own. All gratitude goes to Gordy’s loans for giving a meaning to my life when i had lost all hope.

Guest
Vishu N
2 months 9 days ago

Hello
i want to export t shirts to abroad if any one interested contact me on vichuece89@gmail.com