4 Tips to Help Start an Import or Export Business

Global trade is booming and provides many opportunities for those interested in the import/export business. The most effective import/export businesses are actually based on a simple principal – a desirable product or service targeting a country that wants it.

If you have a product to sell or you’ve seen a product you know will do well in your local marketplace and you are considering setting up an import or export business, here are four areas to look into before you start.

The nature of an import/export business

Once you know your product, have chosen your market and registered your business name, you can delve deeper.

1. Find out more about your target market

Trade industry sites have a good deal of information about countries, which apart from visiting in person and reading the local newspapers online is a good way to find out about your potential export market. Let’s say you’re thinking about exporting surf gear to Brazil, which has a huge surfing culture. A trade website will have the contact details you need, and lots of useful information about how business works in Brazil, including perhaps links to societies that foster trade back home.

2. The nature of your business

You should give some thought to the way you want to do business. Do you plan on setting up an agent/distributor, representative office or joint venture partnership model? Sounding out the country’s commercial climate via a local business social group that connects your country with the target market’s will help you make useful contacts. You’ll also need to understand the import/export regulations for your own country as well as your target market, and be clear about the shipping and customs process.

Reliable communication is key

A solid internet connection is all you need to keep in touch with the contacts you are making in your target country. It may be costly to travel, but you don’t need to with the plethora of communication methods like email and Skype. Don’t forget that faxing legal documents, invoices and orders will also play a large part in your business.

3. Business in the cloud

While you will eventually have to have some representation overseas, even if it’s just a local agent, you can save a lot of time by communicating data and thoughts about your growing business through the cloud. The cloud is the concept of exploiting the internet to store data, share programs such as Excel or MYOB and communicate.

So rather than store an Excel spreadsheet on your hard drive and send updated copies to your agent in Berlin, both of you can share the same spreadsheet by subscribing to it online. It means that as long as both of you have access to the same cloud account you can access the data from any computer anywhere.

4. Phones and faxes

The cloud is also being used to communicate without relying on phone lines and mobile services. Let’s say you want to send or receive faxes in Beijing, but your chances of operating a Chinese fax machine are slim. With providers like eFax, you can use your laptop and smartphone to receive a fax via email anywhere in the world. Fax-to-Email works by attaching a PDF or TIFF of a document to an email, inputting the fax number and hitting send. You can also send large files over the internet using eFax, files that would be too big for your regular email server.

Setting up an import or export business requires a lot of hard work. Getting the right information is key, and so is making sure your lines of communication are reliable.