Import From China Business

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A practical guide for starting a small business

Import Tips

Import Tips for a Successful Importing Business

In many ways, starting an import business can be more complex than starting a non-import business.  Not only do you have all the challenges of an entrepreneur such as finding funding sources and keeping your books, but you have to deal with an international country, language, laws and customs.  Here are some import tips to help you overcome these barriers.

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Top 10 Import Tips - What does it Take?

  1. All around general business skills.  You’ll not only need to be good in finance, but also in marketing, customer service, accounting, logistics and human resources.  You will be forced to be involved in functional areas that you either don’t like or not good at.
  2. Understanding the importing process for your country.  Importing as a business can be overwhelming but you must understand all the steps to the importing process.  The process is governed by laws and regulations.  So it is something that you’ll want to spend some time and learn every step.
  3. Product Experts.  You need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and fully understand what they want and need in the product that you are about to import from China.  What are the specifications such as size, weight, color and materials?  What are the quality tolerances?  
  4. Be able to Count all your pennies.  To run an importing business successfully, you’ll need to be able to micro-manage your importing costs. There are manufacturing costs, tariffs, agent fees, and shipping and packing costs.  Loosely managing your personal finances may be fine but bringing that bad habit to you importing business can spell disaster.
  5. Understand and monitor the impact of foreign exchanges. One very important element that you’ll need to contend with is the international fluctuations in currency.  How stable are the exchange rates between your country and the importing country? What seems to be a cheap product cost one day may be tragically expensive on another day due to currency fluctuations.  Your profits could disappear when your next shipment from the supplier arrives.

  6. Ability to assess the political situation of the importing country. One common characteristic of the low cost suppliers is that they are typically in developing countries where the political environment may be unstable.  A civil war or a change in government and or its policies could end your supplier relationship quickly.
  7. Finding a low cost supplier.  The business model for an importing business is buy your products at a low cost and sell them at the highest price possible in your country.  Competition is stiff.  Be prepared that your competitor will try to price you out of the market.  In order to give you pricing flexibility, you must be able to find a low cost supplier.
  8. Build a relationship with your supplier. In the world of an importing business, the supplier of your goods is the life blood of your business.  So it is imperative that you build a long term win win relationship.  If your supplier does not give you the quantity of goods that you requested, you will go on backorder with your customers.  If your supplier terminates your relationship, you could go out of business unless you can find another supplier quickly.
  9. Create a market for yourself in your local market.  Obtaining a low cost supply is only one half of the equation of the importing business.  Finding a market and developing it is the other half. You’ll need to assess your competition and understand your potential customers.  You must be able to answer, “why should someone buy from you versus your competitor”.
  10. Appropriate amounts of working capital - Working capital is the ability of your importing business to pay back creditors in the short term. You have to make sure that your current assets exceed your current liabilities.  Much of this involves running your importing business efficiently.  So short term assets such as money is not tied up due to slow paying customers.