How to Start an Import/Export Business

This article is from the weekly edition of the Your Business eNews Magazine. It was first published by The Business Press Alliance on October 3, 2018.

How to Start an Import/Export Business

Look back on your past accomplishments to inspire you and start the next chapter of your life by establishing an import/export business today.

While many would agree that business is business, this quote from founder Jeff Hammerbacher from Ask an MBA- outlines the barriers as low as it gets:

You probably know first hand that a the main barrier to starting an import/export business is time. You need as much of it as possible to do the business. The advantages of this method are numerous.

The idea of an import/export business is that you’ll import a product from the land of the living and spend most of your time filling orders around the world. As a result, you’ll reduce the space (and if possible, any miscalculations) in your calendar.

If the industry is saturated, what’s the best way to start an import/export business?

Find a surplus in your industry. You might already be doing this by purchasing shelf space at wholesale prices, purchasing outdated inventory, or finding used cars for resale. This is definitely a great place to start.

To make an import/export business, you need to buy a product from another country. You’ll most likely need to work out an agreement with the seller, so ask them what you’ll need.

If you’re reading this, chances are that your idea of starting an import/export business is to acquire a product or goods with the intent of reselling it at a higher price. This is a good place to start.

The above quote is also from Ask an MBA- – Jeffrey Hammerbacher, who is now CEO of GitHub, the modern open source technology platform. When I visited GitHub last month, I took a look into how he got started in his business. You can read more about him and his story here.

The Import/Export Process: Deciding Where to Start

The steps you’ll need to take to start an import/export business may vary slightly from what you’re thinking about.

To buy a product that’s listed in an auction, you’ll need to determine if the product is listed at an exchange, and then you’ll need to find an exchange in the country that’s selling the product. That exchange can be found by searching for the country where the item is listed.

You’ll also need to do a little research about the seller to make sure that you can trust them.

To buy a product that’s listed on eBay, a tip for you is to do some research on the particular product before you buy it. You could find out if the seller is auctioning it for a specific amount, and if so, who the original buyer was. This will give you a better idea of how to price it.

Start the Business – Target the right customers

As you think about your import/export business, it’s probably worth trying to target the right buyers. The best way to do this is through networking and word of mouth. If you go to tradeshows or groups at home, see if you can network with other import/export businesses, and see if they have any suggestions on who to target. You could also see if there’s a trade show coming up that has any specific products you want to focus on.

Another way to target is with social media. Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook are all great tools to use to find customers. Customers can become your first referrals.

Start your business because you’ve always wanted to do it. If you are in the process of starting an import/export business, it should be totally affordable and very doable.

The Import/Export Business Prospects: The Customer

Customers are the most important part of starting an import/export business. The following is a ranking of the countries in which you might want to import and export products.

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