With inexpensive products produced abroad, starting an import and export business may seem like a profitable venture. However, an import and export business heavily relies on its contacts and networks, which in turn take a considerable amount of effort to form. If you have powerful social skills and are a keen negotiator, an import and export business may be the venture for you.
Set up the necessary tools needed for starting an import and export company at home. This includes a phone for business purposes complete with answering machine or voice-mail. You will also need to produce business cards for your business, as these will be required for establishing connections. Other items include a reliable Internet connection and a filing system.
Establish the contacts needed for your import and export business. International connections are some of the most important elements of a successful import and export enterprise. A good starting point may be the commercial section of foreign embassies and consulates. Chambers of commerce may also provide a good selection of business contacts. You will also need to establish a buyer for your imported or exported products; you are essentially acting as a middle man.
Focus on one type of product and one area of the world to begin with. It will be easier to develop a greater level of experience and expertise when using a smaller scope. You may then expand your specialties later. The area and type of product you specialize in should be thoroughly researched, as there must be a demand in your own country as well as a cheap surplus in another; for exports, the reverse must be true. Your aim is to become a manufacturer's sole import or export agent.
Set up a distribution channel for your goods. Remember that the cheaper the shipment per unit, the higher your commission. This takes further work in networking and establishing contacts. You may be able to establish a cheaper shipping price if you agree to conduct business exclusively with one shipping company for a given number of shipments.
Expand your company when you have eventually cornered one segment of the market. The higher the quantity you import and export, the higher your commission. When expanding, begin with similar goods and products to further concentrate your business in one corner of the market.