International trade is one of the hot industries of the new millennium. But it's not new. Think Marco Polo. Think the great caravans of the biblical age with their cargoes of silks and spices. Think even further back to prehistoric man trading shells and salt with distant tribes. Trade exists because one group or country has a supply of some commodity or merchandise that is in demand by another. And as the world becomes more and more technologically advanced, as we shift in subtle and not so subtle ways toward one-world modes of thought, international trade becomes more and more rewarding, both in terms of profit and personal satisfaction.
Every business needs consumers for its products and services to, as the Vulcans so eloquently put it, live long and prosper. Now that you know what running an import/export business entails, you need to plan, or target, your market, and determine who your potential clients will be, which geographic areas you'll draw from, and what specific products or services you'll offer to draw them in.
This is a very important phase in the mega-trader building project. The proper market research can help boost your trading company into a true profit center, and the more research you do, the better prepared you are before you officially open your doors, the less floundering you're likely to do.
Who Are Your Customers?
Any manufacturer, supplier, crafter, artisan, importer, exporter or retailer is fair game. You can go after companies that deal in heavy construction equipment or delicate jewelry, gourmet goodies or pet food, telecommunications or toys. The only essential requirement is that they want to sell their merchandise or buy someone else's.
As an international trader, your mission is sales--in two different but overlapping arenas: a) selling yourself and your company to clients as an import/export manager for their products, and b) selling the products themselves to representatives and distributors. Success in one of these arenas will contribute to your success in another. Once you've established a favorable sales record with one client's goods, you'll have a track record with which to entice other clients. And, of course, each success will contribute to your own self-confidence, which will, in turn, lend that air of confidence to your negotiations with new prospects.
Whether you're planning on exporting or importing, be prepared to present your prospective client with a marketing plan. If the manufacturer is close to home, you'll naturally present it in person. If she's overseas, you may still have to (make that get to) arrange a personal visit to close the deal.