Business · December 28, 2022

How To Start Your Own Export Business

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Almost as long as there have been people there has been business. Importing and exporting is how the potato came to Ireland, and in a more modern sense, it’s how we can buy food, drink, furniture, clothes and almost everything else, from all over the world today.

How To Start Your Own Export Business

How To Start Your Own Export Business

Imports are any kind of goods or services that are transported from one country to another, while exports are goods and services produced in the home country for sale in another market. Thus, whether you are importing or exporting a product (or both) depends on your approach to trade.

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The modern system of international trade is a complex web of import/export companies that handle the sale, distribution and delivery of goods from one nation to another. If you are interested in starting a business in this industry, know that there is more than one type of import/export business. You could focus just on imports or just on exports. You may represent a manufacturer, who specializes in a certain industry, or you may be an import/export trader or agent, which is more of a self-employed broker.

If you are interested in starting an import/export business, there is a lot of consideration you need to do – just as you would for any business. For import/export companies, in particular, it is helpful to have a background in business, international relations or international finance. This should give you an understanding of the many hoops you have to jump through to sell or buy a product from a foreign supplier.

“The correlation makes it so complicated that even if you knew how to do it, you still have to keep in mind a lot of random things,” says Selena Cuffe, co-founder of Heritage Link Brands, a company. which imports, exports and produces wine and other high quality products such as tea and honey.

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Cuffe worked for years in brand management for Procter & Gamble, among other business-related jobs, before starting her company in 2005. She was inspired after traveling to South Africa, where she attended the first Soweto Wine Festival.

Heritage Link Brands currently operates in the wine industry in different ways: It imports wine from South Africa into the US wine market and it exports grapes from its own South African vineyard to the US as well as the Philippines and Hong Kong. It also exports wine to airlines for use on international flights.

Keep reading for the steps you need to take to start an import/export business, as well as tips from Cuffe.

How To Start Your Own Export Business

Anyone starting a business in the 21st century needs to cover certain basics, such as creating a website as well as social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and a host of others.

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So here’s your first step: Get the basics in order. This means you register your business in the state where your headquarters will be located, register a domain name, get the business license you need to operate legally, and so on.

You also need a business plan. Part of that business plan needs to address how to handle the rules and regulations in the markets you want to operate in. For example, to bring alcohol and tobacco products into the United States, you need an Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Revenue Bureau permit, which is free but can take months to obtain. Similar research needs to be done when doing business with other countries, taking into account everything from various legal requirements for back labels in each country to insurance.

Perhaps most importantly, you need access to capital. Start-up costs can vary greatly depending on the type of import/export business you start.

“The first thing I recommend to anyone is to have your capital up front,” says Cuffe. “It’s so you can protect your business not only from a legal perspective, but also the equity of the brand you’re creating and to ensure you’re investing in the quality of what you’re launching.” Try a market, or try a city, then a state, then a region. Then I believe that there is a greater chance of success and sustainability in the long term.”

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The ratio that Cuffe cited for success in the wine industry – “In order to make $1 million, you need to invest $7 million” – shows the kind of capital required to start a business comfortably (if one can ever be “comfortable” as an entrepreneur). and be prepared for anything that happens, from sourcing problems to changes in business rules.

The next step in starting an import/export business is to find a product or industry that you are passionate about and that you think could sell in international markets.

For Cuffe, that product turned out to be wine. She felt connected to the product not just from a quality and taste perspective, but also from a social justice perspective.

How To Start Your Own Export Business

“When I first entered the industry in 2005, there was only one black winemaker and five Black-owned brands,” she says. “Today there are 17 black wine producers and 31 black-owned brands.

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Although the South African wine industry still struggles with injustices such as poor working conditions and unequal access to capital, Cuffe says things have improved over the past decade thanks to the increased sales and popularity of South African wines around the world.

“The biggest thing we’ve enabled is the financing of black businesses. When we first started, for even these brands to make their own wine, they had to source it from existing white wineries, because they didn’t have any land,” says Cuffe.

Once you find your product, you also need to find the right market for it. After all, you need someone to sell it to. This is where your trend spotting skills come into play. The best products for an import/export business are products that are just starting to become popular, or promise to be so in the future.

You can conduct research through resources such as GlobalEDGE’s Market Opportunity Index or by checking with local government officials and websites, such as World Trade Organization data and analysis. You can also find reports on the status of the import/export industry at the Census Bureau Foreign Trade.

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“Test your ideas,” says Cuffe. “Don’t assume that what you think will sell because you love it will catch fire in the market.” What ignites the market is more than just how it tastes – it’s who you know, and the packaging and the dynamic timing and all the implicit soft stuff that makes the difference.

When you have a product that you want to trade internationally, you need to find a local manufacturer or another manufacturer that produces your product and can lead to a strong partnership. A good relationship with suppliers is critical to the long-term success of an import/export business.

Suppliers can generally be found through companies such as Alibaba, Global Sources and Thomas Register. You need to convince the supplier of the benefits of entering the US market (or any other market you want to sell to) and find out what it’s like to move their product from a local warehouse or manufacturing facility to another, possibly the other market. side of the world.

How To Start Your Own Export Business

“We have a stake in a vineyard in South Africa called Silkbush,” she says. “My policy when doing business with them is that 80% of the grapes we pick are sent to local wineries that use our grapes to produce them. own high-quality wine. The remaining 20% ​​is used to create our own brand Silkbush, which we export to foreign markets.”

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You know what product you want to work with and you have defined your target market. Next is to calculate how much to charge.

Typically, the business model for an import/export company includes two key concepts: the volume of units sold and the commission made for that volume.

Be sure to price your product so that your markup on the product (what ends up being your commission) does not exceed what the customer is willing to pay. But you don’t want to make it too low so you’re never going to make a profit.

In the import/export industry, importers and exporters usually take a 10% to 15% markup over and above what the manufacturer charges you when you buy the commodity.

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Deciding on a market is not the same as finding your customers. You can’t just ship your goods to the port of New York and start selling your wares on the pier to passers-by. You usually need to find distributors and customers who will take your product and sell to others.

If you have a good website that includes digital marketing campaigns, your customers may end up finding you. But to get

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