How to Start an Import Export Business

An Expert's View about Trading Companies in the United States

Last updated: 1 Oct 2012

Many entrepreneurs are looking to answer the question: How do I start my own import export business?  Below are some things for you to consider of what your import export business basics are as well as getting started.

1. Education.  You must know what you are doing - you must learn all about the industry. You need to learn about such topics as: international business, global marketing, how to develop an export management plan, free trade agreements, customs compliance, international payment terms, trade credit insurance,  supply chain and logistics, networking and marketing, government resources, documentation, certificate of origin - and there is much more!  This is just the tip of the iceberg. If the courses you are researching do not cover any or at least all of these topics, then perhaps you need to keep looking.

2. Business set-up and know-how. Even if you have never owned your own business, you can still start an import export trade business.  You need a great business name, register your business entity, a home office, computer, internet connection, business phone with international calling, a professionally designed website with an email system (not free), business cards, office supplies, an EIN from the IRS, a business bank account, a business and marketing plan, and accounting software or service.

3. Contacts.  Domestic and international contacts are not as difficult as you might think to establish. You cannot effectively have an import export business by sitting in front of your computer only. You need to market and network your services - meet customers, attend trade shows and trade fairs, attend forums and seminars.  Locate manufacturers in your are and sell your services to them. Look for businesses in your area that buy internationally (or those that could be buying products and materials from overseas sources) and offer to help them source products.  This is a contact business!

4. Industry updates. Learning about the import export industry is most important, so is keeping your pulse on industry news, events, updates, and happenings. A great professional not only knows his/her business, but is an industry expert. You need to become the expert on all things global. Watch the news, read press releases, visit sites like The Import Export Bank and Export.gov daily. Prepare newsletters and send them out to your contacts and customers. You will be viewed as an industry expert and your clients will be even more confident about working with you.

These are just a few kick start pointers.  There is no such thing as an overnight success in importing and exporting.  No experience necessary!  This is a serious business for serious professionals, however, it is something that you can learn and with the right resources, assistance, and tools, you will be able to get in on this multi-billion dollar a year industry.

copyright 2012 - Dana Smith, Import Export Institute


Posted: 21 September 2012, last updated 1 October 2012

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