Woolen jackets, paper rolls, light up teddy bears, clocks and DVDs – there is tremendous potential to make a very good profit from all of these products and countless others just by knowing the basics of one of the worlds oldest trades.
Importing & exporting may not be the first thing that leaps into your mind when you think of home based businesses. However, there are few genuine opportunities that offer better prospects – big profits, subsidised travel and a good work-from-home lifestyle are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy once your import/export business is up and running. The set-up and operational costs can also be accommodated on a total shoe string budget.
So is importing/exporting from home right for you? Here are a few factors you need to consider before taking your first steps into this lucrative business:
1. Creating Contacts – You will need to contact many different importers and exporters and this can be difficult for some. In the internet age just about every contact you need is already online. There are hundreds of free bulletin boards you can visit to see who wants to buy or sell any number of products, in addition to several specialist websites and trade magazines.
2. A fair level of attention to detail is required – by keeping your customers satisfied and providing them with exactly what they request you will be setting yourself up for a good stream of future business.
3. You will need to create a detailed plan to identify your own desired goals and objectives from your business. We all know the saying ”if you fail to plan then you plan to fail” – ask yourself the difficult questions that many shy away from. Here are just a few of these..What do you have going for you to make this a success? Will you start full time or part time? Can you get any help (family/friends) in the beginning? What type of products will you trade? In which countries? What mode of transport will you use to get your goods from A to B? How will you learn about international trade regulations? What method of international payment will you use? What foreign regulations must you be aware of? Again, these are just a sample of the questions you need to ask – get some paper and scribble down everything you could possibly think of.
4. You will need to decide on your form of organisation – will you operate as a sole trader, partnership or limited company? Each form has it’s own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
So how do you go about finding products to import and export once all the nuts and bolts are in place? One great way is actually by travelling around – there are literally millions of products out there that have the potential to make you a small (or large) fortune once you import them into your domestic market. To illustrate my point, last year while on a holiday to India I stumbled over some delightful glow-up keyrings that were being sold for 10 rupees each (about 40 cents) – instinct had told me there was enormous profit potential here and upon returning home I found the same key-rings selling for $7.95 in a popular department store. Do you think it would be possible to profit from this situation? Of course it is, and there are countless other opportunities like these simply waiting to be discovered. It is also possible to write off your travel expenses (flights, hotels, dining costs etc) against your profits which gives you a great chance to travel the world at a heavily subsidised rate.
You can also find ideas on what to sell by sifting through specialised publications & websites, investigating trade shows and by browsing national trade statistics (eg via the United Nations Yearbook Of International Trade Statistics). But above all, be alert – when you see something interesting, ask yourself ”can I import this thing in my home market?”
Now a word about marketing – whether you like it or not, the long term success for any product depends to a large degree on the way it is marketed. Get this right and you could make a lot of cash very quickly. Get it wrong and you could struggle. Like most things marketing technique can be acquired and refined but you should come up with a marketing plan in addition to your general plan. Encouragingly from a work-at-home perspective there are any number of marketing methods that will bring you success, some at very low (or no) cost.
OK, what we have gone through is just the tip of the iceberg. A profitable work from home import & export business is more possible than most could envisage but as with any worthwhile venture you will require some level of persistence and willingness to learn. If you’re willing to put in the effort the rewards are far greater than you could possible imagine.