The world of international trade is highly complex -- and highly rewarding -- as long as you're successful. If you intend to make your first venture into the international market with an import/export business, you need to have a quality product and a plan.
Here are some tips that can help:
1. Get all the basics in order.
Before you start, you need to register your business with the state in which you intend to locate. (Many companies maintain nominal headquarters in business-friendly New Jersey, but that may or may not be feasible for your business.) You'll also need to obtain any business licenses you need in order to operate legally.
2. Get a business plan.
Business plans are complicated enough without having to take into account the laws in other countries -- but that's what you need to do when you're thinking about an import/export plan. For example, if you want to import clove cigarettes from India into the United States, you need specific permits from the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau -- which can take several months to acquire. Plus, you need to find out the various regulations that need to be followed on the India side of your operation.
3. Get a website and a marketing plan.
No business today can succeed without a significant online presence. If you don't have a website, several social media accounts, and an online marketing team (whether that's you, someone you hire in-house, or a marketing firm that specializes in small businesses), you'll find yourself lost among your competition.
4. Find your suppliers and get them to commit.
You can't get into the import/export game unless you have suppliers who are willing to bring something to your market. You may need to do some overseas traveling to convince potential suppliers of the benefits of working with you -- and entering the international market in general.
5. Get investors and plenty of capital.
This can be easy -- if you already have a lot of capital of your own. More than likely, however, you're going to need investors who are willing to take a chance on your business plan and your dream. (This is why it's so important to get that business plan and website in place before you start. Investors are more likely to buy into something that they feel has a tangible presence, even if it has just begun.)
Stepping into the import/export business can be a bewildering experience. It helps to have the assistance of an experienced international trade attorney on your side.