Following is the action plan for the new exporters, importers, and online sellers, everyone who want to do or expand into international business. The purpose of this is to help you set up your export/import business in the right way. The guide for exporters/importers includes crucial steps ( in the right order) and the necessary resources & tools you need in each step. For beginners, we suggest executing this from start to end. For advances ones or already business owners, please execute there, where you see, you are lacking now.
The navigation menu for exporters/importers guide
2. Set up business website and email
3. Design your business website.
4. Create marketing materials for your export/import business.
5. Register company, apply for licenses, bank account.
6. Contacting suppliers and verifying them
7. Contact buyers (marketing and sales)
1.Figure out your business concept
To achieve success in any kind of business, you first need to search and come up with the answers for the most important questions of your future business, these questions are as follows.
- What product(s) and why your business is going to export or import?
- To which countries you should export to, or import from?
- What are your financial projections and investment needs?
- Who exactly are your customers and why they need your products?
- How to reach out and approach to your customers and suppliers?
- In which form it is best for you to operate, Is it as an export-import agent, export/import merchant, sourcing agent?
Previous questions are must and minimum for anyone, who is looking to start a successful export/import business. Nobody should ignore these questions and should not go further in this guide until he/she has the answers.
2. Set up your exim business website and business email
Even you know what kind of business you are going to do and whom you need to sell too, nobody won’t take you seriously, if you write emails from Gmail, Yahoo or other personal addresses. Very often your customers will treat offers/inquiries from Gmail, yahoo mails as junk mail and even won’t open them. Also you, as a professional exporter, importer or an export/import agent, or any kind of service provider, you should have a website.
Professional email and website are elementary to raise your reliability and trust in the eyes of customers, suppliers or service providers. Having a professional email and website name ( domain name) is easy and affordable. You should have your professional email, a website all hosted in the same place and set them up even today!
3. Design your business website (If you want to do yourself)
Now, you should have a domain registered, a website set up and a professional business email address working. These are basic setups for your further export-import business. Without these, if you do outreaching, marketing, nobody take you seriously. So If you don’t have these, please go back into the beginning of step Nr. 2. and complete it first, otherwise, you cant continue using this guide!
4. Prepare elementary marketing materials
Now, at this point, you should have an understanding, plan and vision about your business in all important aspects. Professional business email(s) set up, a professional website all set up and designed ( or currently on designing process).
No matter, you decided to operate as an export/import merchant, agent or selling products online, you need to put some effort into the marketing materials, before, you start approaching suppliers, potentials clients and partners, visiting trade fairs. Having the following materials, will raise your reliability in the eyes of clients, partners and help you get more/better deals, offers.
You should prepare the following materials:
- Business visit cards,
- Company presentation brochure,
- Catalog about your product(s) or service(s)
Presentation and catalog we advise to make available for download on your business website as well.
You no need to prepare all of them at once, prepare the ones first, which you need first, and update these regularly.
5. Register company, apply for licenses for your exim business.
If you already have a company registered, then good. if you don’t have, then you shall one before you start approaching the suppliers, buyers, and partners. Having a company registered gives you many benefits and protects you, in the case when something goes bad in business. If you start approaching service providers, suppliers or potential buyers, they won’t take you seriously, if you act as a private person.
Different countries have different rules and options. You should approach your government companies registry or similar institution to ask what kind of entities you can register. We suggest the easiest form as a limited liability corporation ( LLC). Also, make sure what kinds of licenses, premisses you need to start the kind of business you decided in point 1 of this guide. Also after your export/import company registered, you need to apply also for an international business account for your company.
In many countries, it is possible to do business without a company ( for a while), this can be possible for online sellers, export/import agents, sourcing agents. in long run, you shall still have a company.
6.Contact and select suppliers whom you will work
If you are a manufacturer by yourself, then you can skip this step. If you are not and you will be an export/import merchant, agent or online seller, then this is one of the most important steps for you. What kind of supplier(s) you should work with, depends on what kinds of products you deal with and what is your business model – about this, the resources are given in step 1. of this guide should have given the answers for you.
To finally have a reliable and competitive supplier, you should contact and verify many candidates first. You should work systematically and verify each supplier untill you have the best-fit one for you. You should proceed according to the process given below:
- Contact many potential suppliers, using different channels. ( focus to find manufacturers only)
- Ask them to give you a quotation and description, details of the product(s) you wan to deal with.
- From the ones, who can supply suitable products, ask info about their history, their references, info/proof about their production capabilities, make sure they are legit, ask details of the owner/founder, CEO. Ask their financial info, like the last few year’s revenues, nr. of employees. Ask their certificates and credentials.
- The ones, which gave you their company details as described in point 3, and seems to be reliable, you should visit or arrange someone else visiting and reporting to you.
- With the ones, which seem to be most professional, reliable and interested in cooperation with you, you should start cooperation negotiations in detail.
- In the final discussion phase, you should have 2-3 companies, each one suitable for you. You should negotiate the prices, you can get from the supplier. Or negotiate your commission fee % if you work as an agent. Possibility for you to do your own branding ( OEM). Payment terms, delivery terms. Warranty terms, after-sales support if needed. Presentation materials from their side for you. Ways, to secure your long term business with them.
- Sign NDA contract. Sign commission agreement with the selected ones (if your work as an agent).
7.Contacting buyers, marketing and sales
No matter you are an export-import merchant, export agent, sourcing agent or you start selling products online, this step is MOST important, as it directly brings in revenue. All the previous steps are preparations to make this step easier for you. in your business, this step you never finish, you shall focus constantly on this step and execute different strategies to constantly be better at generating sales for your business.
NB! The preconditions for generating sales are: knowing exactly, what you supply, to whom, why they need your products and which marketing channels you shall use, to reach them.—–) If these are not clear now, go back to the step nr. 1. of this exporters/importers guide, use resources given there to make it clear first!
The process of generating sales and closing deals is straightforward and there is no easy way around. It requires self-discipline, strong mentality, resistance against rejections, good communication skills, and skills of convincing people. Don’t worry if you fail at the beginning, these skills you will learn, during the process.
Below is a straightforward process for cold contacting for export-import merchants and agents ( most important is to get feedback)
- Contact prospects via different channels. Identify are they interested in your products. If yes, make sure, who is the right person to whom you should offer?
- Make asap the offer via email to the right person, also attach your marketing materials.
- After a few days, since you made an offer, contact again. Contact via phone. You shall get a feedback for the offer you made. Don’t stop, untill you get the feedback.
- Based on the feedback, you decide, you continue with this prospect or you leave it. If there is hope, you shall keep regular contact with this prospect. You shall do all possible to dive into deeper negotiations. The goal is to remove the roadblocks, which are preventing the deal from happening. If this prospect finally doesn’t buy from you, you shall get feedback and info, why he didn’t order. You MUST get the feedback. Also, save his details, to contact again in the near future.
- Repeat the process with a new potential prospect, now you have the experience and feedback, revise your offering, sales letter, and pitch accordingly! Contact at least 25 contacts per day!
8. Contact and select service providers/partners
In your business, no matter as an agent, direct exporter/importer, online seller, you need to use different kinds of services to run your business. You may need to use at least the following services:
- Local and international transport ( courier, road transport, airfreight, sea freight, rail freight)
- Export and import customs and declaration services
- Packing services for your goods
- Inspection services for your goods/importers goods or companies
- freight and products insurance services