How to Start an Import & Export Business

Import/export companies do business all over the world

Import/export businesses match domestic and foreign buyers and sellers of various products and commodities. Import/export companies typically have low overhead costs and lean business models, allowing them to reap sizable profits for a minimal investment. Sales, marketing and relationships are the crucial elements that
can make or break a new import/export business, as is paying attention to all local legal issues.

Step 1
Decide which type of import/export business you wish to start. According to, there are three main types of import/export companies. Start an export management company if you wish to partner with domestic sellers to find foreign buyers for a small group of companies over a long term. Form an export trading company if you wish to serve foreign buyers by matching them with domestic suppliers who can serve their needs. Become an import/export merchant if you wish to purchase merchandise on your own and sell it in foreign or domestic markets, keeping all profits and assuming all risks.

Step 2
Register your business, and obtain any required licenses and permits. According to My Own Business website, the U.S. does not require licensing for exporting or importing most products. Exporting products on the Department of Commerce’s restricted Commerce Control List, however, requires special licenses.

Related Reading: What Can Affect an Import and Export Company?

Step 3
Choose a target niche to focus on in the early stage of your business. Import/export activities cover such a vast range of industries that new companies can benefit from focusing on a single target at first to gain experience and establish a reputation. You may choose to focus on the food segment at first, for example, importing out-of-season produce and inexpensive foreign staples, such as rice.

Step 4
Establish foreign and domestic contacts in your niche. This may be the most time-consuming step involved in starting your own import/export business. Compile lists of all foreign and domestic businesses in your chosen niche, and begin a direct sales and marketing campaign. Place calls, send emails and mail marketing materials directly to sales and purchasing managers in each company, and always follow up on all conversations and agreements.

Step 5
Determine the needs and product offerings of each of your contacts, and begin to make connections. Compile a list of all the companies that expressed an interest in doing business with you in the previous step. Contact the purchasing and sales managers in each company to discover which products they have to offer to foreign buyers, and which products and materials they wish to purchase from a foreign source.

Get ready! Next month Mercury will pass in front of the Sun in a rare event

If you’re not already excited enough that Earth is about to experience spectacular meteor showers as it moves through the tail of Halley’s Comet, then wrap your head around this – at the start of May we’re also going to be able to watch the littlest planet Mercury travel in front of the Sun.

Because Mercury’s orbit is so tight, its transit is more common than the twice-in-a-century transit of Venus. But it’s still a rare event, and the planet won’t travel between our star and planet again for another three and a half years, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to feel humbled by just how giant our Sun really is. Here’s everything you need to know to watch.

The transit of Mercury occurs when Mercury passes between the Sun and Earth, and happens around 13 or 14 times each century. This year the event kicks off on May 9 just after 7am EDT (9pm AEST, 11am UTC), with the planet taking around 8 hours to make its glorious way across the Sun.

The good news is that the entire event will be visible to those on North America’s east coast, as well as most of South America, western Europe and the west coast of Africa. And stargazers in western Asia and western North America will also be able to see part of the transit.

The bad news is that people in Indonesia, Australasia and eastern Asia are going to miss the whole thing during our night time, but don’t panic, because there are plenty of options for viewing online

For those of you lucky enough to be heading outside to watch, hopefully it goes without saying that you can’t look straight at the Sun to watch the transit, if you want to avoid burning out your retinas. But there are plenty of safe ways to witness the transit in all its glory – all it takes is a little bit of planning, and you’ve now got a month to get yourself sorted, so there’s no excuse.

First thing you’ll need is a telescope, because Mercury is going to look pretty tiny compared to our Sun. Then you’ll have to order a solar filter that can be safely attached to your telescope without risk of slipping off (because if staring at the Sun with your naked eye is bad, looking at it unprotected through a telescope is even worse). You can get some good advice over on on which solar filters are your best bets.

You might also need some magnification to be able to see the whole thing, because Mercury is going to look pretty tiny in front of the Sun (it’s 1/160th of the Sun’s diameter).

“Even with proper equipment, Mercury can be hard to see, because it is so small compared to the size of the Sun,” writes Geoff Gaherty for “I observed the transit of 1999 with an 80-mm refractor, and found that I needed a magnification of 67x in order to see Mercury; it was too small to see at 45x.”

So once you’ve got the right equipment sorted, what can you expect to see? The event is pretty similar to the transit of Venus back in 2012, except smaller, so basically it looks like a small black dot moving across the surface of the Sun – which arguably isn’t quite as pretty as a meteor shower or solar eclipse. But there’s so much more to it than that.