Starting an Importing Business

starting an importing business

Job Duties

Starting an importing business can be a very profitable decision. Countries usually export goods and services they can produce inexpensively and more efficiently and import goods which are more inexpensive and efficient to produce elsewhere. Two factors that enable one country to produce goods cheaper are resources and technology. When starting an importing business you will be an International matchmaker; You will be pairing up buyers and sellers in different countries. Importers can act as wholesale distributors or middlemen. When starting an importing business, you will first need to find a product or products which you will import. Then you will obtain samples and prices of the products and send them out to wholesalers and retailers in your country or local area. You can also use salespeople to spread the word about this great new product. Once you have orders for your product you then have your supplier ship the goods to you, which you then deliver to your clients. When starting an importing business you must have an eye for trends. Having experience in sales will be extremely helpful in this industry. Speaking the language of the country you wish to import will be very useful as well as having personal contacts in that country.

Where will you work

When starting an importing business you can decide to start your business from your home to reduce costs. If you can dedicate a room in your house to be your office that would be ideal. You can decide to relocate once your business starts growing.

Basic Costs

When starting an importing business your basic costs will include computer with Internet service, printer, fax, market research, phone, office supplies and travel expenses.

Tips for Starting an Importing Business

  • Maintain consistent performance– Be reliable, and have your goods when you say you will. You should know how long suppliers will take to ship out the goods and what quantities you can order.
  • Get experience– working for an importing business will give you the opportunity to learn a lot about the industry. Many successful importers worked for someone else before starting their own importing business.
  • Research the process of importing goods– Learn as much as you can about the process of importing goods. Make sure you are abiding by the rules. Get some advice from professionals and experts already in this field.
  • National trade data bank (NTDB)– great source of market research. Find out information such as export opportunities by industries, country and product. View their site: Import Business Research
  • Don’t let the paperwork scare you– The process of importing goods is something you will learn and once you get it, you will discover it really isn’t that bad. You can also decide to hire a customs broker or freight forwarder to handle the paperwork for you. These people sort out the government rules and regulations and ensures the appropriate forms are filled out. They can also offer much valuable advice about shipping goods.

Advertising an Importing Business

When advertising your importing business you can advertise through the following methods. You can test various forms of advertising and track which ones are the most effective for your business in your location. Keep the advertising methods that are paying off and dump the ones that are not.

  • Catalogs– Potential clients will be able to browse through your products with a catalog. You can also have online catalog on your website which can reduce costs in paper and printing.
  • Brochures– Send out brochures to retailers and possible clients.
  • Importers Business Cards– Create business cards and hand them whenever an opportunity appears. Network as much as possible.
  • Yahoo Local Searches– If you include your business in the Yahoo Local Searches, when people search for your service in your local area your business will appear in the list. To add your business to Yahoo local search, enter the term “add business to yahoo local search” in Yahoo.com and click on the first link.
  • Google Local Searches– Google has a local search as well. To add your business to Google local search, enter the term “add business to google search” in Google.com and click on the first link.
  • Website– Having a website is a good idea when starting an import business. Having a catalog online will give clients an easy way to search through your products and will save you money on paper and printing of the catalogs.
  • Ebay.com– You can decide to sell wholesale lots or individual products on Ebay.com as well. Read more on this on Starting an Ebay Business.

The following are advertising methods you can use if you plan to sell your imported goods wholesale to merchants and retailers.

  • Trade magazines and journals– If for example you are selling construction equipment, find construction magazines and journals which owners of construction companies are likely to read.
  • Trade shows & Association meetings– Look up trade shows and association meetings in your industry. Trade shows and association meetings will give you the opportunity to meet potential customers and network.
  • Government– the government is also a potential client in need of services or products. You will need to bid for contracts and fill any appropriate forms. This can be a great opportunity if the government decides to do business with you.
  • Salespeople– Have salespeople contact potential clients (retailers & merchants) and sell your products.
  • Cold calling– call potential clients who may be interested in doing business with you.

Not sure about starting an importing business? See a list of small business ideas

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