Import/Export Agents—Big-Time Business On A Small-Time Budget

Import/Export Agents—Big-Time Business On A Small-Time BudgetWith the rapid increase in technology, more and more individuals are becoming part of the global market.  Today, just about anyone can start an import/export business to China with a very small investment.  If you become an import/export agent, you are part of the international trade business. You can work from anywhere.  If you think you might be interested in starting at a low cost, here are a few tips for you to follow to get started:

  • Select your target products—This requires research.  You want to look for currently imported products that are selling well in the United States. It won’t do any good to import items if you can’t sell them, so find out which products are in demand. Think about your target market—who will be using your product—when making your decision. 
  • Establish relationships—Building relationships with companies in other countries is important, especially in China where their culture requires it. Contact any relatives living overseas or past business relationships you’ve made while traveling to other countries for advice. Call or write U.S. embassies in other countries and get information about foreign manufacturers and distributors.
  • Start a large mailing campaign—Compose a letter to your foreign contacts introducing your business.  Describe the benefits of choosing your company as an import/export agent.  You can also ask your contacts for the names and addresses of companies that are looking to sell their products in the United States.
  • Contact local manufacturers—If you look, can find local manufacturers who are looking to sell their goods overseas.  Use the foreign contacts you have established as a selling point.  They can help you get the manufacturer to make you their sole export agent.
  • Speak to potential clients—Talk to people about your marketing plans for their products.  Briefly discuss the trade shows you plan to attend or any collaborations you have with sales representatives and distributors.  Building a good reputation for your business will help potential clients to have confidence in your business.
  • Establish your commission fee—Set a reasonable commission fee, and discuss this with the manufacturers. It will be based on the number of sales you make, but you want to get your fee in writing once you agree on it with the manufacturer.  The standard fee is 10% of the sales price for the products. 
  • Draft a contract—You will want to hire an attorney to draft your first contract.  Then, to save money, you can use that contract as a template to create others.  Before you sign any contract with a company, make sure to check the reputation of companies to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Work the phone—In the beginning, you will need to expand your clientele.  This means you must constantly work the phone and meet potential clients in person.
  • Learn and avoid breaking foreign laws—Import/export laws vary from country to country.  It is imperative that you know the laws of the country you are dealing with.  Do your work carefully, and be sure not to break these laws.  One small mistake can be costly.   

The above tips to getting started are all low cost for you, however, they do take a lot of time.  As time goes on, it will get easier.  You will become more familiar with the process and the time investment won’t be so high.  Just look at the time invested as an investment toward working from the comfort of your recliner!


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