Starting one’s own business is taking a giant leap of faith; expanding the same business offshore with exports and imports, well that’s another ballgame altogether. When you venture into this world of Exim business, the possibilities are massive, of both success and failure in equal measures. And like any other trade, it is imperative that your risks are calculated and research is comprehensive.
Before you delve into the common problems exporters and importers face, you must keep the prerequisites in place. You should be able to ask yourself these following questions –
- Do you need an export license to export your products?
- Are the items you are planning to export allowed into the country you are sending them to?
- Do you need an import license?
- Are there any special restrictions or controls applying to the products you are planning to export?
- Are there laws applicable in the country of origin that must be adhered to?
- Do you have to pay duties?
In a reference book- Secrets of Electronic Commerce: A Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Exporters which was published by International Trade Centre in 2001 and revised in 2009, the above listed questions have been answered thoroughly to the advantage of all SMEs who are planning to take their businesses forward to the international arena.
In the eBook, published solely for the benefit of aspiring exporters and importers, several aspects of exim business have been detailed including the pivotal role internet and e-commerce are playing in the development and success of a business unit.
“Before you start delivering your products overseas you need to have sound knowledge of your target markets. You will need to research local laws or regulations relating to the import of your products. You will also have to take into account trading practices and trade barriers, or anything that could hinder you from exporting your goods,” the writer states, explaining
Each country has its own rules and requirements for imports. The rules include:
- Customs tariffs
- Documentation requirements
- Shipping terms
- Methods of payment
A thorough study of all the factors is needed before you single out your business region. Once you have a clear understanding of the profitable offshore locations, you need to find ways to connect with genuine buyers as that is the driving factor in propelling your business to success.
There are primarily two modes of business networking and both have their advantages and disadvantages –
Online business networking – As of July 2019, there are over 4.33 billion internet users worldwide, encompassing about 56% of the global population. Countries like China, India and USA rank among the top internet users. Internet has connected everyone in such a way that while its merits are countless, the competition it is brewing up has taken things to another level. Global Internet markets offer new opportunities to small merchants from developed and developing countries, but they also bring global competition into local and niche markets, the traditional outlets for small merchants.
In such a scenario, it becomes all the more crucial for SMEs to take careful business decisions, especially the ones that concern forging business relationships. Finding buyers for your business maybe the most important step in the way of success, but what really sustains you amidst the cut-throat competition is the rightful selection of reliable, genuine buyers, who will eventually be responsible for loss mitigation as well as high profit yields.
In an interesting blog titled “How to find International Buyers for Goods to Export” published on Export Import Practical website, the pivotal role of buyers is detailed distinctly-
“You may have a brilliant import-export business idea. Or you may have found a highly profitable import-export business opportunity and a great product with great price; still, this is not enough to make money in import-export business; unless you know how to find genuine buyers for your export-import business.”
Talking about the B2B marketplaces at length, the blog takes into account the number of portals including Alibaba, go4WorldBusiness, TradeKey, IndiaMart and Europages and their strong presence in the Export Import arena.
You may have a brilliant import-export business idea. Or you may have been found a highly profitable import-export business opportunity and a great product with great price, still, this is not enough to make money in import-export business. Untill you don’t know how to find buyers for your export-import business.
“Go4WorldBusiness, in stark contrast to its competition, provides the sellers an opportunity to connect with limited number of buyers to get a fair idea of the services.”
“If you want to search some buyers for export totally free, then you can do limited searches there free of cost,” the blog quotes.
Of course, once you’ve a better understanding of the services, you can become a paid member and increase your chances of getting buy leads and their conversions.
In a blog titled Internet como fuente de información commercial or Internet as a source of Commercial information published by a Peruvian Foreign Trade website SIICEX, go4WorldBusiness has been listed as one of the top B2B websites to get genuine buy leads for one’s business.
In fact, go4WorldBusiness has found its way into many elite lists of B2B websites that also include names like Alibaba, BizEurope and EMarket Services. Global Edge names it one of the most popular B2B websites in their recent Global Source Directory. The Federation of International Trade Associations (FITA) named it one of the most reliable subscription based trade lead and catalog system.
Apart from the B2B portals, some of which have been put together in a comprehensive list, there are excellent opportunities that online work portals like Freelancer.com and upwork.com provide. Business owners can get in touch with sourcing agents from a specific country represented on these channels who in turn, help find local buyers and suppliers for your business. In a proficient sourcing agent, you can find a mediator who will also do your bidding on projects aside from going to the root level to translate your quote as well get accurate information from the buyer/supplier. Consultation websites like Clarity.fm help SMEs through expert opinions and ways to mitigate losses while focusing on augmenting profits through relevant buyer market selection.
In the current wave of social media, it would be a crime not to explore and exploit the prospects one can have. Facebook, LinkedIn, even image-centric Instagram can be more than beneficial for certain businesses. Especially in the case of Facebook and LinkedIn, there are free groups that you can join and connect with fellow entrepreneurs. Paid advertising on social media is another solid way to expand your reach. Algorithms applied on these platforms allow relevant audience target and multiply your visibility in the web world on international business.
If you don’t have budget constraints, another effective medium is Google advertising. While website creation is the ultimate necessity of any business, placing SEO-enriched content is the essence of it. Google search results are a great way to get noticed. SEO and PPC can give you lot of customers and leads, in the long run.
Despite the enormous potential of Social media and online marketplaces to get you started, there is always the concern about the authenticity and reliability of buyers and suppliers you connect with. While credible marketplaces like Alibaba and go4WorldBusiness go “that extra mile” to verify the buyers and suppliers before listing them on their platforms, the virtual verification process isn’t entirely foolproof. It is therefore important to strike a balance in your networking endeavors.
Offline Business Networking –
Trade shows and Fairs – While trade shows provide ample opportunities to businesses that wish to find recognition on an offline, personalized platform, the crucial bit involving the trade shows is their careful selection. When attempting to participate in a trade show, ask yourself these following questions –
- Is it relevant to my business?
- What has been the footfall in previous years?
- How many visitors/participants plan to attend the show?
- Do the participation expenses fit my budget?
- How sound are the press/advertising opportunities?
- Will this help me increase sales and leads?
- Is the audience relevant for my business?
Some of the more popular trade shows like the Canton Fair in China and India International Trade Fair in India give you the direct opportunity, both as an exhibitor and as visitor to meet foreign and local business owners. It’s a great way of forging strong business relationships.
Meet-n-greet – Another great way to connect with local buyers is by approaching them personally through a Meet-n-Greet event. These sorts of events are very beneficial for SMEs who are looking to expand their business by successfully converting indigenous buy/sale leads
Business trips – Expanding your business by finding buyers/suppliers globally means a lot of business travel. Termed as discovery trips, these business trips help you connect with buyers and sellers with compelling target prices. Experiencing other business units and their way of working also help develop ideas for you own.
International chambers of commerce– Considered to be one of the most traditional ways to find buyers and suppliers for your business, The International Chamber of Commerce database is a viable option and only includes verified and serious buyers/sellers and manufacturers
Starting and growing your export import business is a difficult task, one made tougher by the increasing competition and several factors that include research, expertise, planning and execution of various steps of business development. It is important that you take into account both your strengths and weaknesses and move in the right direction towards grabbing the significant opportunities that come your way.
There’s a famous quote by Lord Buddha about the attainment of Truth and Nirvana that says –
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
Somehow the same holds true for anyone aspiring to make it big in the international business arena, you need to try every arrow in your armor to be able to hit the bull’s eye.