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Import Export Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Trade Global Business Plan

You’ve come to the right place to create your Trade Global business plan.

We have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans and many have used them to start or grow their Trade Global businesses.

Below is a template to help you create each section of your Trade Global business plan.

Executive Summary

Business overview.

Trade Global is a startup Import/Export company located in Houston, Texas. The company was founded by Ted Rogers, who has deep experience as a wholesale distribution executive. Ted has long aspired to work for himself, and has been systematically acquiring the tools and knowledge necessary to successfully operate an import/export business. The combination of his skills and drive positions him to succeed. What’s more, he has an extensive network of contacts across the globe, which will provide an edge in acquiring clientele.

Product Offering

Trade Global has acquired a warehouse in Hong Kong, and has entered into contracts with five Asian manufacturers to export goods to the United States. As the company gains credibility and grows its client base, it has plans to begin building its own fleet of cargo ships that will carry goods both into and out of the United States.

Customer Focus

Trade Global will procure products from manufacturers and wholesale products to distributors throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, and Europe.

Management Team

Trade Global will be owned and operated by Ted Rogers. Ted has a background as a wholesaler, and is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Supply Chain Management program, and subsequently earned an Export/Import Certificate from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Success Factors

Trade Global will be able to achieve success by offering the following competitive advantages:

  • Friendly, knowledgeable, and highly qualified owner
  • An ideal warehouse location in Hong Kong, with ample room for expansion
  • FTZ status with Port Houston

Financial Highlights

Trade Global is seeking $750,000 in debt financing to launch its import/export operation. The funding will be dedicated towards procuring, packing, and shopping products, and payroll of the staff until the firm reaches break even. The breakout of the funding is below:

  • Inventory: $250,000
  • Shipping costs: $250,000
  • Office equipment, supplies, and materials: $10,000
  • Overhead expenses (payroll, rent, utilities): $200,000
  • Marketing costs: $20,000
  • Working capital: $20,000

The following graph below outlines the pro forma financial projections for Trade Global.

Trade Global Pro Forma Financial Projections

Company Overview

Who is trade global.

Trade Global is a startup import/export company located in Hong Kong and Houston, Texas. The company was founded by Ted Rogers, who has deep experience as a wholesale distribution executive. Ted has long aspired to work for himself, and has been systematically acquiring the tools and knowledge necessary to successfully operate an import/export business. The combination of his skills and drive positions him to succeed. What’s more, he has an extensive network of contacts across the globe, which will provide an edge in acquiring clientele.

  Trade Global aims to deliver a wide variety of goods both into and out of the United States. The team is highly qualified and experienced in sales and supply chain management.

Trade Global History

Trade Global is owned and operated by Ted Rogers, a former distribution executive and ICC certified Importer/Exporter. Ted has worked for a large wholesale company and oversaw a wide variety of accounts from around the world. Derek’s tenure with the wholesale distribution company, as well as his education in Supply Chain Management has given him the skills and knowledge required to venture out and start his own company. Ted has been awarded contracts with two large Chinese manufacturers, which guarantees Trade Global stability while it works to increase its reach.

Since incorporation, Trade Global has achieved the following milestones:

  • Registered Trade Global, LLC to transact business in the state of Texas.
  • Acquired an import license from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Has acquired an existing warehouse in Hong Kong.
  • Reached out to numerous manufacturers to apply for wholesale contracts.
  • Entered into a contract with a deep sea cargo transportation company.
  • Began recruiting warehouse workers, and office personnel to work at Trade Global.

Trade Global Services

Trade Global has signed contracts with two manufacturers, to export goods from China to the US. It will begin as a small exporter, with ample warehouse space for growth. The company will keep abreast of logistics technology innovations as it grows.

Industry Analysis

The US import/export industry is significant in terms of revenue. According to the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), the total value of US goods and services exports in 2022 was approximately $2.09 trillion, and the value of imports was approximately $3.0 trillion. This resulted in a trade deficit of roughly $948.1 billion for the year. The revenue generated by the industry is a combination of goods and services exported and imported by the United States.

Over the last few decades, the US import/export industry has seen consistent growth. The USITC data indicates that the total value of US exports and imports has grown substantially since the 1980s. This growth is influenced by factors such as globalization, trade agreements, technological advancements, and evolving consumer demands.

The trade deficit, which occurs when the value of imports exceeds exports, has been a subject of concern for policymakers. Reducing the trade deficit has been a goal of various US administrations.

Several trends have shaped the US import/export industry:

  • Globalization: Increased globalization has allowed US businesses to access international markets and global supply chains. This trend has led to an expansion in both exports and imports, as well as an interconnected global economy.
  • E-commerce: The growth of e-commerce has had a substantial impact on the industry. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have easier access to international markets through online platforms, leading to a boost in exports of services and goods.
  • Trade Policies: Trade policies, such as tariffs and trade agreements, have a significant impact on the industry. The US has experienced trade tensions with several countries, notably China. These policies can influence the types of goods and services that are imported and exported.
  • Technology: Advancements in technology have made it easier for businesses to engage in international trade. Technologies like blockchain, logistics software, and automation have improved efficiency and tracking in the import/export process.
  • Environmental and Ethical Concerns: There is a growing focus on sustainable and ethical trade practices. Consumers and businesses are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of products, leading to changes in supply chain management and the types of goods being imported and exported.
  • Geopolitical Factors: Geopolitical factors, such as trade relations with China, Brexit, and tensions in the Middle East, can affect trade patterns and the stability of the import/export industry.

Customer Analysis

Profile of target market.

Trade Global will initially target manufacturing companies in China, and wholesale companies in the US.

The precise data for these target markets are:

China In 2022, the total merchandise exports from China amounted to around 24 trillion yuan. This included 6.3 trillion yuan worth of high and new-tech products and over 13.6 trillion yuan worth of mechanical and electronic products.

Exported Goods from China

As of 2021, there were around 25,200 state-owned industrial enterprises above designated size in China.

Number of industrial enterprises China 2011-2021, by ownership

United States The Wholesale Trade sector is an intermediary step in the supply chain process. Companies in the sector distribute goods from agriculture, mining, manufacturing and information industries to downstream markets, typically without any transformation. In 2023, the US Wholesale sector is valued at $11.3 trillion.

Figure 3

Customer Segmentation

Trade Global will primarily target the following customer profiles:

  • Small to medium manufacturers of FMCG in China
  • Wholesale distributors of FMCG in US

Competitive Analysis

Direct and indirect competitors.

Trade Global will face competition from other companies with similar business models. A description of each competitor company is below.

Global Electronic Imports & Exports, Inc.

Established in 1990, Global Electronic Imports & Exports specializes in the import and export of consumer electronics, including smartphones, tablets, and audio equipment. They also deal in a range of accessories and components related to consumer electronics.

Global Electronic Imports & Exports has long-standing partnerships with major electronics manufacturers in Asia, including Samsung, LG, and Panasonic. They also collaborate with major US-based retailers for distribution.

Global Electronic Imports & Exports reported an annual trade volume of approximately $150 million in consumer electronics and related products last year.

Natural Foods International

Established in 2005, Natural Foods International specializes in the import and export of food products, with a focus on organic and non-GMO items. They deal in a wide range of commodities, including grains, nuts, and dried fruits.

The company has established partnerships with a network of international organic farms and cooperatives. They also have distribution agreements with major US grocery chains, such as Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s.

Last year, Natural Foods International reported a trade volume of approximately $85 million in organic and non-GMO food products.

Titan Heavy Machinery, Inc.

Established in 1998, Titan Heavy Machinery is a specialized import/export company focusing on the heavy equipment and construction industry. Their product range includes excavators, bulldozers, and industrial vehicles.

The company has close partnerships with leading heavy machinery manufacturers, particularly in Japan and Germany. They also collaborate with construction and mining companies in the US and overseas.

Last year, Titan Heavy Machinery reported a trade volume of approximately $60 million in heavy equipment and machinery, serving the construction and infrastructure development sectors.

Competitive Advantage

Trade Global will be able to offer the following advantages over their competition:

  • Smaller, more personal operation, with highly-qualified supply chain experts
  • Trade Global stays abreast of all technology developments, constantly seeks to improve the supply chain, and delivers an accurate and complete shipment to each customer.
  • Trade Global offers competitive pricing for its services. Their pricing structure is the most cost effective compared to the competition.

Marketing Plan

Brand & value proposition.

Trade Global will offer the unique value proposition to its clientele:

  • Highly-qualified team of supply chain experts that provide a comprehensive suite of export/import services (sales, packaging, shipping, customs, tariff/financial, marketing, expedient delivery).
  • Unbeatable pricing to its clients – Trade Global does not mark up its services at a large percentage, offering competitive pricing.

Promotions Strategy

Flexibility and adaptability are key in marketing, as the import/export industry is subject to changes in international trade policies, global economic conditions, and shifting market dynamics.

The promotions strategy for Trade Global is as follows:

Create a Strong Online Presence:

Trade Global will build a professional, user-friendly website that showcases the company’s services, products, and expertise. The site will be optimized for search engines (SEO) to improve its visibility in online search results.

Network and Build Relationships:

Trade Global will make a point of attending a variety of trade shows and industry events to meet potential clients, suppliers, and partners, since building and maintaining relationships in the import/export industry is often critical to success.

Trade Global will also join industry-specific associations and chambers of commerce to gain credibility and access a network of contacts.

Online Marketing:

Trade Global will list products or services on established online B2B marketplaces like Alibaba, Global Sources, or TradeIndia to reach a global audience.

Trade Global will launch an email marketing campaign to reach potential clients, partners, and suppliers. Share industry news, company updates, and promotional offers.

The company will use online advertising platforms such as Google Ads and social media advertising to deliver targeted ads that promote import/export services.

Trade Publications and Directories:

Trade Global will advertise the business in relevant industry directories and advertise in trade publications specific to each product niche.

Trade Global’s pricing will be moderate and on par with competitors so clients feel they receive value when purchasing their goods and services.

Operations Plan

The following will be the operations plan for Trade Global. Operation Functions:

  • Ted Rogers will initially handle all procurement, finding goods, buyers for goods, negotiating prices, and arranging logistics.
  • The company will employ an administrative assistant, who will handle all documentation and answer non-urgent communications.
  • The company will employ three warehouse managers to oversee logistics operations.

Milestones:

Trade Global will have the following milestones complete in the next eight months.

  • 5/1/202X – Finalize construction of warehouse space
  • 6/1/202X – Complete recruitment process for warehouse management
  • 6/15/202X – Finalize shipping partnerships
  • 8/1/202X – Finalize wholesale contracts
  • 11/15/202X – Complete hiring of warehouse team
  • 12/1/202X – Receive first products intended for export

Trade Global will be owned and operated by Ted Rogers, who will oversee the procurement and logistical operations.

Ted Rogers has a background in wholesale, and is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Supply Chain Management program, and subsequently earned an Export/Import Certificate from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Trade Global has begun the recruitment process for experienced Warehouse Managers in Hong Kong, and expects to complete the hiring process within one month.

Financial Plan

Key revenue & costs.

The revenue drivers for Trade Global will largely rely on finding the best buyers for products being imported/exported. In addition, negotiating the lowest shipping costs will be a significant factor in revenue realized.

The cost drivers will be the overhead costs required to procure goods, and operate the warehouse. The major expenses will be payroll, and shipping costs.

Funding Requirements and Use of Funds

Key assumptions.

The following outlines the key assumptions required to achieve the revenue and cost numbers in the financials and to pay off the startup business loan.

  • Sales Revenue: Projected sales revenue will be broken down by product or service, region, and customer segments.
  • Gross Margin: Profit projections will account for variations in costs, such as shipping, import duties, and currency fluctuations.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This includes the cost of acquiring the goods for import or export.
  • Currency Exchange Rates: Exchange rates can significantly impact the financial performance of an importer/exporter.
  • Credit Terms: Credit terms offered to customers and suppliers impact cash flow and working capital requirements.
  • Inventory Turnover: Carrying costs and storage expenses will impact profit; therefore, an accurate forecast of how quickly inventory will need to be replenished is important
  • Taxes and Duties: Import/export duties, taxes, and customs fees based on the countries involved in the trade
  • Economic Conditions: inflation rates, interest rates, and political stability can affect profitability

Financial Projections

Income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, trade global business plan faqs, what is an import export business plan.

An import export business plan is a plan to start and/or grow your import export business. Among other things, it outlines your business concept, identifies your target customers, presents your marketing plan and details your financial projections.

You can easily complete your Import Export business plan using our Import Export Business Plan Template here .

What are the Main Types of Import Export Businesses? 

There are a number of different kinds of import export businesses , some examples include: Export management company, Export trading company, and Import-export merchant (or free agent).

How Do You Get Funding for Your Import Export Business Plan?

Import Export businesses are often funded through small business loans. Personal savings, credit card financing and angel investors are also popular forms of funding.

What are the Steps To Start an Import Export Business?

Starting an import export business can be an exciting endeavor. Having a clear roadmap of the steps to start a business will help you stay focused on your goals and get started faster.

1. Develop An Import Export Business Plan - The first step in starting a business is to create a detailed import export business plan that outlines all aspects of the venture. This should include potential market size and target customers, the services or products you will offer, pricing strategies and a detailed financial forecast. 

2. Choose Your Legal Structure - It's important to select an appropriate legal entity for your import export business. This could be a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to do research and choose wisely so that your import export business is in compliance with local laws.

3. Register Your Import Export Business - Once you have chosen a legal structure, the next step is to register your import export business with the government or state where you’re operating from. This includes obtaining licenses and permits as required by federal, state, and local laws.

4. Identify Financing Options - It’s likely that you’ll need some capital to start your import export business, so take some time to identify what financing options are available such as bank loans, investor funding, grants, or crowdfunding platforms.

5. Choose a Location - Whether you plan on operating out of a physical location or not, you should always have an idea of where you’ll be based should it become necessary in the future as well as what kind of space would be suitable for your operations.

6. Hire Employees - There are several ways to find qualified employees including job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed as well as hiring agencies if needed – depending on what type of employees you need it might also be more effective to reach out directly through networking events.

7. Acquire Necessary Import Export Equipment & Supplies - In order to start your import export business, you'll need to purchase all of the necessary equipment and supplies to run a successful operation. 

8. Market & Promote Your Business - Once you have all the necessary pieces in place, it’s time to start promoting and marketing your import export business. This includes creating a website, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and having an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. You should also consider traditional marketing techniques such as radio or print advertising.

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Import Export Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

import export business plan template

Import-Export Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their import-export businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through an import-export business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your import-export business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start an import-export business, or grow your existing business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your import-export business in order to improve your chances of success. Your import-export business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Import-Export Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for an import-export business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the lender will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for social media marketing businesses.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

How to write a business plan for an import-export company.

If you want to start an import-export business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below are links to each section of your import-export business plan template:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of import-export business you are operating and its status. For example, are you a startup, do you have an import-export business that you would like to grow, or are you operating import-export companies in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the import-export industry. Discuss the type of import-export business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target market. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.  

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of import-export business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of import-export companies:

  • Export management company – these types of businesses handle all the details (hiring distributors, handling logistics, creating marketing materials, etc) for companies wishing to export a product.
  • Export trading company – these types of businesses determine what products foreign buyers want, and then find domestic companies who make the product.
  • Import-export merchant (or free agent) – this type of business buys merchandise from a manufacturer, and resells that merchandise around the world.

In addition to explaining the type of import-export business you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the volume of products you have exported or imported, number of import-export contracts signed, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the import-export industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the import-export industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your import-export business plan:

  • How big is the import-export industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your import-export business? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your import-export business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of import-export business you operate. Clearly, individuals looking to purchase coffee beans online would respond to different marketing promotions than mobile phone manufacturers, for example.

Try to break out your target market in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most import-export companies primarily serve customers living in their same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other import-export companies.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes manufacturers with vertically integrated distribution operations, or consumers who prefer to purchase similar products made domestically.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other import-export companies with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be import-export businesses located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • Do they specialize in specific products, or in imports from a specific country or region?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide a wider variety of products or maintain distribution contracts with more manufacturers?
  • Will you offer extra services, such as brokerage?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For an import-export business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of import-export company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to mobile phones, will your import-export business offer other consumer electronics such as laptops or wireless headphones?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location through which you will sell your imported/exported goods. For example, will you distribute your goods directly to consumers online, or will you maintain supply contracts with retailers and wholesalers? In this section, document each method by which you will sell your products.

Promotions : The final part of your import-export marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your business. The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertising in trade papers and magazines
  • Direct contact with potential clients (cold calling)
  • Social media marketing
  • Exhibits at Trade Shows

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your import-export business, including determining which products are needed, sourcing product manufacturers, securing and maintaining all necessary licenses and permits, arranging logistics, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to sign your 100 th supply contract, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your import-export business to a new market.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your import-export business’ ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing import-export companies. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in logistics, or successfully running small businesses.  

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you import from one country, or will you operate globally? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your import-export business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing an import-export business:

  • Warehouse build-out including fixtures, construction, etc.
  • Cost of buying or leasing the necessary transportation equipment (containers, cargo ship / airplane, etc.), or otherwise securing the means of transporting your goods
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

business costs

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your warehouse lease, or contracts with manufacturers and distributors.  

Putting together a business plan for your import-export business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the import-export industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful import-export business.  

Import Export Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my import export business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Import Export Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of import export business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have an import export business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of import export businesses?

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How to Start an Import/Export Business

Main Sections In This Post Steps To Starting An Import/Export Business Points to Consider Knowledge Is Power Featured Video

Embarking on Import/Export Business

A step-by-step guide to launch, along with practical examples. Leverage “Knowledge Is Power” for current insights—resources for startup and ongoing success.

Let’s get started with the steps.

Steps to Starting an Import/Export Business

Below are the steps to starting an Import/Export business.

Each step is linked to a specific section, allowing you to jump to your desired section or scroll to follow the steps in order.

  • An Overview of What You’re Getting Into
  • Import/Export Business Overview
  • Researching Your Import/Export Business
  • Looking at Financials
  • Choosing A Business Location
  • Creating Your Mission Statement
  • Creating A Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Choose an Import/Export Business Name
  • Register Your Company
  • Create Your Corporate Identity
  • Writing a Business Plan
  • Banking Considerations
  • Getting the Funds for Your Operation
  • Software Setup
  • Business Insurance Considerations
  • Supplier and Service Provider Considerations
  • Physical Setup
  • Creating a Website
  • Create an External Support Team
  • Hiring Employees

1.  An Overview of What You’re Getting Into

Is Starting an Import/Export Business the Right Step for You?

There is a key factor to succeeding in business, and that factor is you!

Understanding Your Passion

Understanding how you feel about owning and running an Import/Export business is important.

The Power of Passion

Passion is a crucial element for success in your own business.

The Driving Force

Passion is the driving force you need.

When you’re passionate about your business and problems, arise, you look for solutions. On the other hand, without it, you’ll look for a way out.

Assessing Your Passion

How passionate are you about owning your own Import/Export business?

Let’s go through a short exercise. Take a few minutes to think about this. It’s important before moving forward.

Imagine you won the lottery, quit your job, traveled the world, and bought your dream home, cars, and everything you ever wanted. You have given to charity and causes you believe in. You have helped your friends and family with more than enough money to live a better life.

It’s been three years since you won the lottery, and you still have 10 million dollars left in cash and investments that provide more than enough income flowing in every month.

Passion’s Litmus Test

Here is an important question to think about!

Now that you have achieved everything you have ever wanted, would you still start an Import/Export business?

If your answer is yes, it shows that you are passionate about owning and operating an Import/Export business and are heading in the right direction.

However, if your answer is no, it prompts another question:

Alternative Paths

What would you prefer to do instead? Perhaps, you should pursue that path instead.

The Sum of It

In summary, you need to be passionate about the business you plan to start because it’s something you want to do!

When your only concern is the money generated, you won’t be as successful as starting a business you are passionate about.

For More, See How Passion Affects Your Business . Also, see, Considerations Before You Start Your Business to identify key points for a new business owner.

2. Gaining an Overview of Owning an Import/Export Business

Next, let’s spend some time on key issues to give you an overview of what to expect from owning and running your business.

a.) A Quick Overview of Owning an Import/Export Business

An Import/Export business operates at the heart of international trade, facilitating the exchange of products between countries.

This dynamic venture involves sourcing products from one country and distributing them in another, creating a bridge between different markets and cultures.

Inward and Outward Flow

In the import aspect, the business identifies products in foreign markets holding local demand, negotiates deals with manufacturers and suppliers, and manages the logistics to bring these products to the home market.

On the export side, the business identifies local products with potential appeal in foreign markets, connects with buyers, and oversees delivering products to international customers.

Driving Global Economy

This type of commerce plays a pivotal role in diversifying markets and supporting economic growth.

It introduces products that might not be available otherwise, enriching consumer choices globally.

Moreover, it creates opportunities for manufacturers and producers to tap into wider markets, expanding their reach beyond national borders.

Navigating Challenges

Running an Import/Export business requires navigating intricate regulations, customs procedures, currency fluctuations, and cultural differences.

Adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and strong logistical planning are crucial to success.

In essence, this venture isn’t just about moving products—it’s about fostering connections and contributing to the intricate web of global trade.

Daily Operations in Import/Export Business

  • Market Research: Identifying demand, trends, and potential markets.
  • Supplier Outreach: Connecting with manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Negotiations: Securing favorable terms, including pricing and quantities.
  • Logistics: Organizing shipping, customs, and warehousing.
  • Documentation: Managing permits, licenses, and trade regulations.
  • Quality Control: Ensuring products meet standards.
  • Sales and Marketing: Attracting clients, promoting products.
  • Financial Management: Budgeting, pricing, and payment handling.
  • Relationship Building: Cultivating partnerships globally.
  • Staying Updated: Adapting to evolving regulations and markets.

Running an Import/Export business demands adaptability, negotiation skills, market awareness, and logistical efficiency. It’s a dynamic venture with potential for growth in the global marketplace.

b.) Import/Export Business Models

Variety of Import/Export Business Models

1. Trading Company: Acting as an intermediary, trading companies buy products from manufacturers and sell them to foreign markets. They don’t alter products significantly.

2. Distributorship: These businesses secure exclusive distribution rights within a specific region. They focus on building a strong local presence and managing distribution networks.

3. Export Management Company (EMC): EMCs work on behalf of manufacturers, handling all aspects of exporting. They earn commission based on sales.

4. Import/Export Agent: Agents connect buyers and sellers, earning a commission for successful transactions. They’re valuable for those with limited resources.

5. Dropshipping : This model involves selling products without holding inventory. When a sale occurs, products are shipped directly from the supplier to the customer.

6. Licensing and Franchising: Foreign companies can produce and sell products using your brand. Franchising involves replicating your business model in other countries.

Strategic Decision

Choosing the right business model from the beginning is crucial, as switching later is challenging. Identifying a profitable and high-demand niche is equally vital.

Research extensively, analyze market trends , and align your strengths with the chosen model. Success in the import/export realm hinges on astute planning and a clear strategic direction.

c.) Pros and Cons of Owning an Import/Export Business

Pros of Owning an Import/Export Business

  • Entrepreneurial Freedom: You can be your own boss, making independent decisions to shape your business.
  • Creativity Unleashed: Your business is a canvas for innovation and new ideas.
  • Potential for High Revenue: A successful venture can yield substantial profits.
  • Flexibility: Successful operations and a capable team can afford you flexible work hours.
  • Control Over Environment: You have the power to create a work environment that suits you.
  • Global Reach: Connecting with diverse markets opens expansive opportunities.
  • Learning Opportunity: Navigating international trade sharpens your skills.
  • Cultural Exposure: Engaging with different cultures enriches your perspective.

Cons of Running an Import/Export Business

  • Accountability: Problems and challenges rest on your shoulders.
  • Irregular Income: Earnings can be unpredictable in the initial stages.
  • Tough Start-Up: The beginning can be financially and operationally demanding.
  • Customer Acquisition: Gaining and retaining customers requires dedicated efforts.
  • Long Work Hours: Expectations of dedication may lead to extended workdays.
  • Pressure to Thrive: Success pressure is always present in a competitive landscape.
  • Significant Investment: Starting often demands substantial capital outlay.
  • Adaptation Challenges: Constant changes in regulations and markets require adaptability.
  • Inherent Risks: Business ownership comes with financial and operational risks.

Navigating the Journey

Owning an Import/Export business offers remarkable potential, but embracing both its rewards and challenges is vital.

Careful planning, resilience, and a willingness to learn are key to thriving in this dynamic domain.

For more, see Pros and Cons of Starting a Small Business.

d.) Questions You Need to Consider for Your Import/Export Business

Preparing for Your Import/Export Business Journey

Addressing the following inquiries prepare you for potential challenges in your Import/Export venture.

Before You Begin: Key Considerations

  • Business Model: What Import/Export model resonates with your goals?
  • Work Dynamics: Will you handle tasks solo or hire a team?
  • Management Approach: Do you plan to lead or hire a manager?
  • Customer Acquisition: How will you attract your initial customers?
  • Customer Retention : What strategies ensure customer loyalty?
  • Partnerships: Are partnerships or investors on your radar?
  • Physical or Digital: Will your business be brick-and-mortar or online?
  • Growth Contemplation: Have you envisioned your business’s long-term expansion?

Insightful Planning for Success

As you contemplate these questions, you pave the way for a more informed and strategic approach to your Import/Export enterprise.

Navigating the intricacies of global trade demands thoughtful consideration, ensuring your business is primed for success and sustainability.

3. Research

Import/export business research.

Essential Research for Your Import/Export Business

Conducting thorough research before embarking on your venture is paramount. Quality information will illuminate your path, preventing unexpected hurdles.

Leveraging Expertise

Engage with experienced professionals in the Import/Export realm. Their insights provide dependable guidance honed by practical experience.

Invaluable Learning

Time spent with these experts is an invaluable opportunity. Their knowledge and seasoned experience offer priceless insights.

Guidance for Your Journey

I’ve crafted an article outlining methods to identify and approach these knowledgeable individuals.

These steps extend beyond this post. Reading the article via the link below will provide a comprehensive understanding of your forthcoming endeavor.

Empower yourself with the wisdom of those who’ve walked the path.

This approach ensures you’re well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the Import/Export landscape.

See An Inside Look Into the Business You Want To Start for all the details.

Target Audience

Understanding Your Target Audience in Import/Export Business

Knowing your target market is key. Tailoring your offerings to their preferences and needs enhances your Import/Export business’s appeal.

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

Identifying Potential Interest: Target Market Ideas

  • Small Businesses: Seeking diverse product sourcing.
  • Manufacturers: Exploring global markets for distribution.
  • Entrepreneurs: Launching unique foreign products domestically.
  • Online Retailers: Accessing unique goods for e-commerce.
  • Wholesalers: Sourcing bulk products at competitive rates.
  • Artisans: Seeking unique materials or components.
  • Boutiques: Curating distinct products for niche markets.
  • Global Brands: Expanding market presence through diversification.
  • Trade Shows: Participants interested in product variety.
  • Startups: Seeking cost-effective inventory solutions.

Catering to Success

Identifying your potential customers paves the way for strategic marketing and product offerings.

Knowing who values your Import/Export business’s offerings strengthens your competitive edge and positions you for growth.

For more, see How To Understand Your Target Market.

4. Looking at Financials:

Financial Overview of Your Import/Export Startup

Gain insights into startup costs, monthly outlays, revenues, and potential profits to steer your Import/Export venture toward success.

Startup Costs: Planning for a Smooth Launch

Accurate estimation of startup expenses is pivotal for a seamless launch.

Underestimation risks funds depletion, hindering your opening. Overestimation might deter potential investors.

Your expenses hinge on factors like scale, location, hiring , equipment, and leasing.

List your needs, gather prices, and anticipate unexpected costs during research.

For more detailed information, refer to my article on Estimating Startup Costs.

Sales and Profit: Foundations of Financial Success

Sales depend on product appeal, demand, and strategic marketing. To ensure profitability:

  • Develop sought-after products.
  • Address market needs.
  • Skillfully promote your business.

Profit Calculation: Delving Beyond Revenue

Profitability entails more than direct sales earnings. It involves considering rent, payroll , overhead, and other costs.

For More, See Estimating Profitability and Revenue.

Sufficient sales must cover monthly expenses and yield personal income. A well-balanced equation ensures a prosperous journey in the Import/Export domain.

Simple Sample: Financial Lists to Consider As a Starting Point

Note: Focus on the issues more than the numbers. The numbers are samples. Your estimates will differ due to how you set up your business, location, expenses, and revenues. 

 Sample List of Estimated Costs to Start a New Import/Export Business in the USA (lower and upper values):

  • Business Registration and Licensing: $500 – $1,000
  • Office Space (Deposit and Initial Setup): $5,000 – $10,000
  • Initial Inventory Purchase: $10,000 – $50,000
  • Import/Export Documentation and Compliance: $1,000 – $5,000
  • Marketing and Branding: $2,000 – $7,000
  • Transportation and Shipping Equipment: $5,000 – $20,000
  • Website Development: $1,000 – $5,000
  • Legal and Professional Consultation: $2,000 – $10,000
  • Total Estimated Starting Costs: $26,500 – $108,000

Sample List of Estimated Monthly Expenses for an Import/Export Business in the USA:

  • Rent for Office Space: $1,500 – $3,000
  • Utilities (Electricity, Water, Internet): $200 – $500
  • Salaries and Wages: $5,000 – $15,000
  • Insurance: $300 – $800
  • Loan Payments: $1,000 – $3,000
  • Marketing and Advertising: $500 – $2,000
  • Transportation and Shipping Costs: $2,000 – $6,000
  • Legal and Compliance Fees: $300 – $1,000
  • Total Monthly Expenses: $10,800 – $31,300

3. Sample of a Few Examples of Profit per Sale:

  • Low-End Product: Profit of $10 – $50 per unit
  • Mid-Range Product: Profit of $50 – $200 per unit
  • High-End Product: Profit of $200 – $1,000 per unit

Finish Note: Your overall profit will depend on the monthly sales you can generate and your actual profit per sale.

These are samples so you can understand the issues to consider when planning to start your Import/Export business. So focus on the list and not the numbers.

Adjusting costs makes a significant difference in whether the business will be successful.

A slight shift in profit per sale on high-volume sales will make a difference in your overall profits.

Also, note many new businesses take time to become profitable because it takes building a customer base, building a reputation, and fine-tuning operations.

Your figures will be different. Every situation is different, and many factors come into play.

Research and Consider getting professional advice when calculating your business’s startup costs, expenses, and potential revenues and profits.

5. Choosing The Right Business Location

Strategic Location: Key to Business Success

The fate of your local brick-and-mortar business hinges heavily on your chosen site.

Demand Dynamics: A Decisive Factor

Operating where demand for your offerings is scarce spells failure even before launch.

Competitive Landscape: Finding the Sweet Spot

Overcrowded locales make market share acquisition a challenge.

Ideal Scenario: Balancing Act

Locate where demand and competition strike equilibrium.

Cost Considerations: Financial Prudence

Affordability is vital. A high population brings exposure, but expenses must not outweigh gains.

Balance Affordability and Sales Potential

Inexpensive sites need ample customer flow for sustainability.

Online Realm’s Flexibility

Even for online models, assess demand and rivalry closely.

Ultimate Influence on Success

In sum, location selection steers business destiny. Thoroughly research and analyze options. Your decision shapes your venture’s triumph.

For more about business locations, see Choosing The Best Location for Your Business.

6. Create Your Mission Statement

Guiding Your Business’s Purpose: The Role of a Mission Statement

A mission statement serves as a compass, aiding you in identifying your business’s core purpose.

It’s a reminder of the primary value you bring to customers and the community, ensuring you stay on track.

Mission Statement Examples for an Import/Export Business

  • “Empowering Global Commerce: Connecting businesses worldwide, enriching markets with diverse products.”
  • “Navigating Boundaries, Enhancing Lives: Bridging nations, offering quality goods to uplift lives globally.”
  • “Driving Trade Diversity: Facilitating cross-cultural trade, fostering economic growth, one partnership at a time.”
  • “Catalyzing Global Business: Facilitating seamless exchange, propelling businesses towards international success.”
  • “Enriching Connections, Empowering Economies: Uniting markets through unparalleled import/export solutions.”

Steering Purpose and Value

These mission statement samples exemplify how your business’s fundamental aim can be succinctly captured. Such a statement keeps your endeavors aligned, ensuring the provision of exceptional value to both clientele and the community at large.

For more, see, How To Create a Mission Statement.

7. Creating A Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Crafting Distinction: The Power of Unique Selling Proposition

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) aids in discerning and crafting elements that set your business apart.

It’s a potent tool for creating something distinctive that resonates with customers.

Examples of USP for an Import/Export Business

  • “Global Discovery Hub: Unearth unique products from every corner of the world, tailored for your market’s cravings.”
  • “Seamless Sourcing Solutions: Our network guarantees streamlined access to the globe’s most sought-after products.”
  • “Cultural Connection Catalyst: Bridging gaps with products that celebrate diversity, fostering international camaraderie.”
  • “Reliable Worldwide Reach: Empowering businesses with consistent access to global markets, ensuring growth.”
  • “Tailored Treasures, Globally Delivered: Transforming international products into local treasures, delivered at your doorstep.”

Carving Identity, Sustaining Success

These USP samples exemplify how to carve a unique business identity.

USP underscores your distinct value, magnetizing customers and cultivating lasting success.

8. Choose a Business Name

Crafting an Exceptional Business Name : A Vital Choice

Your business name plays a pivotal role in brand recognition.

Opt for a catchy, apt name that’s both easy to recall and pronounce. It’s a long-lasting decision that holds significance throughout your business journey.

Incorporating Factors for a Striking Name

Ensure your chosen name aligns with your venture’s essence.

It’s advisable to have a matching domain for an online presence. Verify name availability to avoid legal complications.

30 Import/Export Business Name Ideas: Fueling Creativity

  • GlobalLink Commerce
  • Horizon Trade Co.
  • EchoCommerce
  • MarketFusion Export
  • Nexus Imports
  • TerraTrade Connections
  • WorldBridge Traders
  • Aegis International
  • SpectrumExports
  • EchoSphere Imports
  • PrimeWorld Traders
  • TradeMosaic
  • Echelon Global Goods
  • Unity Exporters
  • GlobeGlide Imports
  • VentureHaven Traders
  • EnrichGlobal Commerce
  • InterLoom Trading Co.
  • Skylight Exports
  • ZenithCross Imports
  • NexusSphere Trade
  • VirtuTrade Global
  • Infinite Horizons Commerce
  • TerraTrek Traders
  • PinnacleExports
  • TradePulse International
  • EnvisionEdge Imports
  • SummitWorld Commerce
  • EquiTrade Global

Igniting Brand Identity

These name suggestions spark your imaginative process, assisting you in forging a distinct business identity.

Pick a name resonating with your venture’s essence, securing a memorable position in the global business landscape.

For more, see the following articles:

  • How To Register a Business Name
  • Registering a Domain Name For Your Business

9. Register Your Company

Legal Foundations for Your Import/Export Business

Ensuring Compliance: An Imperative Step

Establishing your business on legal grounds is paramount.

Professional Consultation: A Wise Move

Consulting professional aids in legal assurance, optimal tax strategies, and liability management.

Common Business Registrations for an Import/Export Venture

  • Sole Proprietorship: Individual ownership simplicity.
  • Partnership: Shared responsibility and resources.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): Personal liability protection.
  • Corporation: Legal entity status, distinct from owners.

Permits and Licenses: Navigating Legal Terrain

  • Business License: Operational legitimacy.
  • Importer/Exporter License: Compliance for global trade.
  • Sales Tax Permit: Tax collection eligibility.
  • Customs Bond: Assurance for customs compliance.
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number): Tax identification for businesses with employees.

Prioritizing Legal Adherence

By comprehending these legal aspects, your Import/Export business gains firm legal footing. Seek professional guidance, ensuring a compliant and thriving journey.

Registration:

  • How to Register Your Business
  • How To Register a DBA
  • How to Register a Trademark
  • How to Get a Business License

Business Structures:

  • How to Choose a Business Structure
  • Pros & Cons of a Sole Proprietorship
  • How To Form an LLC
  • How To Register a Business Partnership
  • How To Form a Corporation
  • How To Choose a Business Registration Service

10. Create Your Corporate Identity

Building a Strong Corporate Identity: A Design Emblem

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

Defining Corporate ID: Visual Business Representation

A Corporate ID encapsulates your business essence in design.

Key Elements of Corporate ID: Crafting Visual Cohesion

Components encompass logo, business cards, website, signage, stationery, and promotional materials.

Consistency is King: Leaving a Lasting Impression

A uniform, professional design resonates with both new and loyal customers.

Crafting Visual Excellence

Crafting a cohesive Corporate ID leaves an indelible mark.

A seamless design across mediums elevates your business presence, engaging customers and building brand loyalty.

You can see our page for an overview of your logo , business cards , website , and business sign , or see A Complete Introduction to Corporate Identity Packages.

11. Writing a Business Plan

Strategic Roadmap: The Significance of a Business Plan

Pivotal Document: Navigating Growth and Investment

A business plan serves dual roles: securing funding and guiding operations. It outlines your business’s course from inception to full operation.

Vision in Ink: Cultivating Your Business’s Blueprint

Creating a business plan is a meticulous process. It encapsulates your envisioned business reality, demanding time and consideration.

Comprehensive Vision: A Path to Clarity and Success

Crafting a business plan reaps the rewards. It unveils your business’s essentials, ensuring a clear roadmap for commencement and operation.

Approaches to Formulating Your Plan

Options abound: crafting from scratch, seeking professional assistance, employing templates, or using business plan software.

Personal Involvement: A Touch of Distinctiveness

Active engagement is vital, particularly when collaborating with a professional. Distinctiveness and effective communication are paramount.

Adaptability and Optimization: An Evolving Blueprint

Your business plan evolves alongside the experience. Regular review and optimization ensure congruence with operational realities.

Business Plan Template for an Import/Export Business

I. Executive Summary:

  • Overview: Briefly describe your Import/Export business, mission, and vision.
  • Objectives: Key business goals and milestones to achieve.
  • Ownership Structure: Information on the business’s ownership, whether a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.

II. Business Description:

  • Industry Background: Description of the import/export industry and current market trends.
  • Business Offering: Detailed explanation of the products or services you import or export.
  • Target Market: Outline your primary target markets, including geographic locations and demographics.

III. Market Analysis:

  • Market Needs: Identify the needs of your target market and how your business will meet those needs.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze your main competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and your competitive edge.

IV. Marketing and Sales Strategy:

  • Marketing Plan : Detail your marketing strategies, channels, and tools.
  • Sales Strategy: Outline your sales techniques, processes, and targets.

V. Operations Plan:

  • Location: Description of the business location, considering logistics and accessibility.
  • Technology Needs: Outline the technology required for operations, including software for tracking shipments.
  • Supply Chain Management: Detail your strategies for sourcing products, managing suppliers, and maintaining inventory.

VI. Financial Plan:

  • Start-up Costs: Detailed estimate of the initial investment required.
  • Revenue Projections: Monthly and yearly revenue forecasts.
  • Expense Projections: Estimation of ongoing operational expenses, including loan payments.
  • Break-even Analysis: Calculation of the point at which revenues equal expenses.

VII. Legal and Compliance:

  • Licenses and Permits: List necessary licenses and permits for the import/export business.
  • Regulations: Outline applicable international and domestic regulations and how you plan to comply.

VIII. Risk Management:

  • Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks, such as currency fluctuations or regulatory changes.
  • Mitigation Strategies: Outline strategies to mitigate those risks.

IX. Management and Personnel:

  • Management Team: Profiles of the key management team members, including qualifications and experience.
  • Organizational Structure: Description of the company’s organizational structure, including departments and roles.

X. Appendices and Supporting Documents:

  • Financial Statements: Include any necessary financial statements, charts, or graphs.
  • Legal Documents: Copies of relevant legal agreements, patents, or other intellectual property documentation.

XI. Conclusion:

  • Summary: Concluding remarks summarizing the critical aspects of the business plan.
  • Next Steps: Clearly outline the next steps and actions required to implement the plan.

Remember, this template is a starting point, and it should be customized to fit the unique needs and regulations related to your specific import/export business.

Conduct thorough research and consider seeking professional advice to ensure that all aspects are covered comprehensively.

For information on creating your business plan, see, How to Write a Business Plan.

12. Banking Considerations

Financial Foundations: Choosing the Right Banking Partner

Strategic Banking Choice: Empowering Small Businesses

Opt for a local bank with a strong small business focus for optimal support.

Distinct Account, Streamlined Finances

A dedicated business account segregates expenses vital for sole proprietorships: precise expense tracking, seamless bookkeeping, and audit protection result.

Building Banking Relationships: Advantages Beyond Transactions

Foster a rapport with your banker. Access advice, financial services, and simplified application procedures.

Embrace Digital Transactions: Amplify Sales

Merchant accounts and online services boost sales by facilitating credit and debit card payments—convenience and higher sales potential benefit both business and customers.

For more, see, How to Open a Business Bank Account. You may also want to look at, What Is a Merchant Account and How to Get One.

13. Getting the Funds for Your Operation

Financial Launchpad: Navigating Business Loans

Crucial Tips for Loan Seekers

Exploring Funding Avenues: Options for Import/Export Ventures

Consider diverse funding paths: traditional lenders, private loans, investors, asset sales, and collateral usage.

Meeting with a Loan Officer: Essential Points

  • Preparation: Understand your business needs and loan purpose.
  • Research: Know the lender’s criteria and offerings.
  • Documentation: Compile necessary financial and business documents.
  • Business Plan: Present a well-structured plan highlighting profitability and repayment strategies.
  • Clarity: Articulate your business’s strengths, market viability, and repayment certainty.

Required Documents for New Business Loan Application

  • Business Plan
  • Personal and Business Credit History
  • Financial Statements
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Legal Documents (Incorporation, Contracts, etc.)
  • Collateral Details (if applicable)

Empowering Your Business’s Financial Journey

These insights facilitate informed loan pursuit.

Thorough preparation, diligent research, and organized documentation enhance your Import/Export venture’s financial foundations.

See, Getting a Small Business Loan for more.

14. Software Setup

Software Selection: Strategic Insights for Import/Export Ventures

Informed Software Choice: A Prudent Step

Thoroughly researching software options is paramount.

Opting for a robust system from the outset minimizes the need for future transitions, preserving data integrity.

Dependability Matters: A Proven Track Record

Prioritize software companies with a strong history, ensuring ongoing support and reliability.

Exploring Demos and Reviews: Insights from Users

Assess software through demos, reviews, and forums. Gaining firsthand experiences of others aids informed decision-making.

Comprehensive Software Considerations

  • Import/Export Management Software
  • Supply Chain Management (SCM) Software
  • Customs Broker Software
  • International Trade Compliance Software
  • Logistics and Freight Management Software
  • Inventory Management Software
  • Financial Software (Accounting and Bookkeeping)
  • E-commerce Platform
  • Communication Tools (Email, Video Conferencing)
  • Data Analytics Tools
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software
  • Language Translation Software

Accounting Software: Expert Counsel

For financial management, consult your bookkeeper or accountant to select suitable accounting software, ensuring compliance and streamlined tax filing.

By diligently researching software, you pave the way for efficient operations and lasting success in your import/export business.

Check out Google’s latest search results for software packages for an Import/Export business.

15. Get The Right Business Insurance

Safeguarding Your Business: Insurance Essentials

Proactive Protection: Prioritize Insurance

Secure appropriate insurance coverage before commencing any business activities to shield against unforeseen incidents.

Comprehensive Protection: Addressing Diverse Risks

Consider insurance covering customers, employees, property, and potential legal liabilities.

Professional Liability Shield: Navigating Legal Claims

Professional liability insurance guards against potential lawsuits and legal claims.

Operational Continuity: Embrace Interruption Insurance

Interruption insurance provides crucial support during involuntary shutdowns, ensuring operational continuity.

Home-Based Business Alert: Maintain Insurance Validity

If operating from home, inform your home insurance agent to prevent nullifying your existing policy.

Insurance Expertise: Navigating Coverage Adequacy

Leverage a competent insurance broker’s guidance to ensure comprehensive coverage, protecting your business interests effectively.

For more, see What to Know About Business Insurance . You can also browse the latest Google Import/Export business insurance search results.

16. Suppliers, Service Providers and Inventory

Strategic Supplier Relations: Fueling Business Success

Essential Supplier Partnerships: Items and Services

Enumerate essential items and services your Import/Export business may source from suppliers.

Supplier Bonds: Cornerstone of Operational Success

Forge strong connections with suppliers and service providers to underpin your business triumph. Trustworthiness and reliability are paramount.

Cost-Efficient Collaborations: Competitive Prices and Margins

A dependable supplier allows cost-effective pricing, facilitating customer savings and bolstering profit margins.

Seamless Operations: Ensuring Adequate Supplies

Reliable suppliers guarantee smooth business operations by providing essential supplies consistently.

Mutually Beneficial Ties: Respect and Shared Gains

Nurturing a mutually advantageous relationship with suppliers enhances cooperation and rapport.

Strategic Inventory Management: Customer-Centric Approach

Product Mix and Variety: Customer-Centric Focus

Curate your inventory based on customer preferences and include variety for broad customer appeal, augmenting value.

Inventory Control: Balance and Efficiency

Strike a balance in inventory volume to prevent tied-up funds or lost sales, optimizing resource allocation.

Expiry Date Vigilance: Mitigating Loss

Mitigate losses by managing expiration dates meticulously, ensuring inventory freshness and value.

By cultivating robust supplier relationships and strategic inventory management, your Import/Export business thrives with efficiency and customer-centricity.

For More See, How To Choose a Supplier.

17. Physical Setup

Strategic Setup: Physical Arrangement for Success

Optimized Layout: A Blueprint for Efficiency

Designing an effective physical setup for your Import/Export business is pivotal. A streamlined layout enhances operational efficiency.

Strategic Signage: Guiding the Way

Strategically placed signage is vital for customer guidance and professional presentation.

Beyond the main business sign, ensure directional and informational signs in key areas like parking lots, exits, and special zones.

Office Harmony: A Productive Workspace

Your office plays a crucial role in managing your business. A well-organized office is a hub of productivity, fostering efficient business management.

Functional Equipping: Necessities for Effectiveness

Equip your office comprehensively to facilitate smooth business operations. Essential tools, technology, and resources should be at your fingertips.

Space Optimization: Productivity and Professionalism

Effective physical setup and signage guide customers seamlessly and reflect professionalism, while an organized office empowers efficient business management.

Maximize your potential by laying a strong foundation for operational success.

See, Here are Considerations for The Setup of Your Office, for tips and ideas to make your office work for you. Also, have a look at our article About Company Signs.

18. Creating a Website

Virtual Presence: Your Digital Storefront

Essential Website: Gateway to Your Business

A website is an indispensable asset for business owners, serving as a primary interface for sharing information with existing and potential clients.

Ownership Advantage: Your Virtual Territory

Unlike social media platforms, your website offers autonomy and control.

When you host your site and secure a domain name, you dictate the rules.

Marketing Potential: Showcasing Expertise

Your website doubles as a marketing powerhouse.

By sharing industry insights and valuable tips through blogs, you position yourself as an authority, fostering customer trust and bolstering sales potential.

A website isn’t just a digital address; it’s a dynamic tool that strengthens your brand, reinforces credibility, and expands your reach in the competitive landscape.

For more, see How to Build a Website for Your Business .

19. Create an External Support Team

External Support Network: Your Advisory Allies

An external support team comprises non-payroll professionals providing advice and services.

Their expertise aids projects, contracts, or on a retainer basis.

While some members might already be collaborators, embracing them as your core team enhances their role.

Strategic Approach: Building a Resilient Network

You needn’t assemble the complete team before launch; fostering these relationships takes time.

However, nurturing this network is an ongoing endeavor for enduring success.

Team Synergy: Collaborative Powerhouse

Your team may encompass an accountant, lawyer, financial advisor, marketing specialist, technical advisor, and consultant.

Their collective prowess fortifies your business, providing insights, solutions, and guidance when needed.

This collaborative network safeguards your business journey.

For more, see, Building a Team of Professional Advisors for Your Business.

20. Hiring Employees

Growing Workforce: Hiring Right for Expansion

In the initial phases, handling tasks single-handedly can curb costs, especially considering the significant payroll expense during startup.

As the business flourishes, your ability to manage all aspects may dwindle, prompting the need for new hires.

Strategic Hiring: Building a Competent Team

When recruiting, prioritize qualified individuals with strong work ethics for each role.

Properly fitting employees enhance productivity and streamline operations, facilitating business growth.

Essential Roles: Structuring Your Team

The following are job positions or outsourced services you may want to consider as your Import/Export business grows:

  • Sales and Marketing Specialist
  • Logistics Coordinator
  • Customs Compliance Manager
  • Financial Analyst
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Inventory Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Shipping Coordinator
  • Legal Advisor
  • Graphic Designer
  • Content Writer

As you scale, assembling the right team becomes pivotal to sustaining success and expanding your import/export enterprise.

For more, see, How and When to Hire a New Employee.

Points To Consider

Hours of operation:.

Operating Hours for Import/Export Business

Consider these hours of operation for your Import/Export business:

  • Weekdays: Standard business hours, 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Saturdays: Half-day, 9 AM to 1 PM
  • Sundays: Closed
  • Holidays: Closed, unless essential for trade

Adapting operational hours to global time zones and clients’ needs is vital for international commerce. Flexibility can enhance customer satisfaction and streamline communication.

A List of Equipment and Supplies to Consider for an Import/Export Business:

  • Computers and Laptops: For communication, research, and documentation.
  • High-Speed Internet Connection: Essential for online transactions and communication.
  • Smartphones: Stay connected on the go and manage business emails.
  • Printer and Scanner: For printing contracts, invoices, and scanning documents.
  • Office Furniture: Desks, chairs, and storage for a comfortable workspace.
  • Communication Tools: Landline phones, mobiles, and headsets.
  • Shipping Supplies: Packaging materials, boxes, tape, and labels.
  • Inventory Management System: Software to track stock and orders.
  • Security Measures: Surveillance cameras and alarm systems for asset protection.
  • Transportation: Vehicles for local pickups and deliveries.
  • Warehousing Equipment: Shelving, pallets, and forklifts for storage.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): For efficient navigation during shipments.
  • Customs Documentation Tools: Software to manage international paperwork.
  • Currency Conversion Tools: To handle multi-currency transactions.
  • Backup Systems: Data backup solutions to prevent data loss.

Customize this list based on your business scale and specific needs.

Key Points To Succeeding in an Import/Export Business

Successfully operating an Import/Export business requires attention to several crucial points:

  • Building Customer Base: Establishing a customer base is challenging during startup. Develop strong relationships with customers, suppliers, and employees.
  • Supplying Demand: Offer products and services that customers desire, adapting to their needs and preferences.
  • Customer Feedback: Use customer feedback to improve your business operations.
  • Exceptional Customer Service: Prioritize exceptional customer service, as your customers are the heart of your business.
  • Team Building: Assemble the right team for various positions, fostering a positive work environment.
  • Cash Flow Management: Efficiently manage cash flow to sustain operations and growth.
  • Cost Control: Keep costs low without compromising quality or service.
  • Adaptation to Change: Stay updated and adapt to industry, process, and technological changes.
  • Fluctuations and Competition: Handle revenue fluctuations and navigate competition, focusing on differentiation.
  • Effective Marketing: Invest in effective advertising and marketing to boost awareness and attract customers.

Remember these factors to drive your Import/Export business towards success.

Making Your Import/Export Business stand out

Making Your Import/Export Business Stand Out

Setting your Import/Export business apart in a competitive market is crucial for success.

Here are some ideas to make your business stand out:

  • Niche Specialization: Focus on a specific niche within the Import/Export industry. Specializing allows you to become an expert in a particular area, catering to a targeted customer base.
  • Exceptional Customer Experience: Provide an unparalleled customer experience from start to finish. Prompt communication, transparency, and going the extra mile can leave a lasting impression.
  • Unique Product Offerings: Source and offer unique, high-quality products that aren’t widely available. This exclusivity can attract customers seeking something different.
  • Sustainable Practices: Embrace environmentally-friendly practices in your operations, appealing to eco-conscious customers.
  • Technology Integration: Utilize cutting-edge technology to streamline processes, enhance customer service, and improve efficiency.
  • Customization: Offer personalized solutions that cater to individual customer needs and preferences.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with complementary businesses to expand your reach and offer bundled services.
  • Online Presence: Develop a user-friendly, informative website and leverage social media to connect with potential customers globally.
  • Transparent Pricing: Provide clear and transparent pricing structures, instilling trust in customers.
  • Educational Resources: Share industry insights, how-tos, and resources through blogs, videos, and webinars, positioning your business as an industry authority.

Add on Ideas for an Import/Export Business

Diversifying your offerings with add-ons can enhance your business value and attract a broader clientele. Consider these add-on ideas:

  • Consulting Services: Provide expert advice to clients seeking guidance on navigating the import/export landscape.
  • Customs Clearance Assistance: Help clients navigate the complexities of customs regulations and paperwork.
  • Supply Chain Management: Offer end-to-end supply chain solutions, ensuring smooth operations for your clients.
  • Trade Compliance Training: Provide training sessions on trade compliance and regulations, empowering businesses to handle import/export processes more effectively.
  • Market Research Reports: Offer market research reports to clients looking to expand into new markets, providing valuable insights.
  • Freight and Logistics Services: Partner with logistics providers to offer seamless shipping and delivery solutions.
  • Trade Show Representation: Represent clients’ products at international trade shows to expand their reach.
  • Packaging Solutions: Provide customized packaging solutions that protect goods during transit and enhance brand identity.
  • Sourcing Tours: Offer guided sourcing tours to help clients discover suppliers and products in different regions.
  • Language and Cultural Consulting: Assist clients in understanding language and cultural nuances when dealing with international partners.

By incorporating these ideas and add-ons, you can make your Import/Export business unique, appealing, and positioned for success in a competitive global market.

Marketing Considerations

Attracting Customers for Your Import/Export Business

To succeed in the Import/Export industry, customer attraction is paramount. Initially challenging due to being new, it becomes easier as your reputation grows.

Marketing remains an ongoing process, driving revenue growth through effective strategies.

While you don’t always need a professional agency, investing in marketing yields significant returns.

Simple Methods to Promote Your Import/Export Business:

  • Networking: Attend industry events, trade shows, and conferences to connect with potential clients and partners.
  • Social Media: Leverage platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase your services, share industry insights, and engage with your audience.
  • Content Marketing: Create informative blogs, videos, and guides related to the import/export field to establish yourself as an expert.
  • Referral Programs: Encourage satisfied customers to refer your services to others in exchange for incentives.
  • Cold Calling/Emailing: Reach out to potential clients directly with tailored messages highlighting your services’ value.
  • Collaborations: Partner with related businesses for joint promotions, broadening your reach.
  • Localized SEO: Optimize your online content for local search terms to attract customers in your area.
  • Testimonials and Reviews: Display positive feedback from satisfied clients on your website and social media.
  • Webinars and Workshops: Host online sessions to educate potential clients about import/export processes and benefits.
  • Free Resources: Offer downloadable resources like e-books, checklists, or templates to entice potential clients to engage with your brand.
  • Direct Mail: Send informative brochures or postcards to targeted businesses that could benefit from your services.
  • Participate in Forums: Engage in online forums and discussion boards related to import/export to share insights and build credibility.
  • Google My Business: Create and optimize your Google My Business listing to improve local visibility.
  • Video Marketing: Create informative videos explaining import/export procedures, highlighting your expertise.
  • Local Networking: Attend local business networking events to connect with potential clients in your area.
  • Industry Associations: Join relevant trade associations and actively participate in expanding your network.

Remember, effective marketing is about consistency and persistence.

As you invest time and effort into these simple methods, your Import/Export business’s visibility will grow, attracting a steady stream of interested customers.

We have an article on How To Get Customers Through the Door and a marketing section that will provide ideas to help you bring awareness to your business.

Sample Ad Ideas:

Headline: Unlock Global Opportunities with Our Import/Export Expertise!

Expand your business horizons with our seamless import/export solutions.

From customs clearance to logistics, we handle it all, ensuring your goods reach destinations hassle-free.

Tap into new markets, increase profits, and establish a global presence. Let us be your gateway to international success.

Headline: Navigate International Trade Effortlessly with Us!

Ad Copy: Breaking barriers in international trade is our forte.

Seamlessly import/export your goods with our expert guidance.

Our team ensures compliance, swift deliveries, and cost-effective solutions. Don’t let logistics hold you back – let us be your trade partner.

Headline: Your Bridge to Global Markets Starts Here!

Dreaming of tapping into overseas markets? Our import/export expertise is your ticket to success.

We handle every step, from documentation to delivery. Let’s make your business go global together.

Headline: Expand Borders, Increase Profits – Start Now!

Ad Copy: Why limit your business to local shores? Our import/export services open doors to endless possibilities.

Seamlessly move goods worldwide, conquer new markets, and elevate profits. Your journey to international success begins here.

Headline: Unleash Growth Potential – Import/Export Made Easy!

Ad Copy: Want to skyrocket your business growth? Our import/export solutions simplify global trade.

Seamlessly ship your products, ensure compliance, and boost profitability. Get started today and watch your business thrive on the global stage.

Potential Businesses for Referral Partnerships:

  • Logistics Companies: Collaborate with freight forwarders, shipping companies, and logistics providers. They can refer clients who need assistance with importing/exporting goods.
  • Customs Brokers: Build relationships with customs brokerage firms. They can refer clients looking  to import or export products.
  • International Trade Consultants: Partner with consultants who provide advice on global trade. You can complement each other’s services and refer clients back and forth.
  • Trade Associations: Join industry-specific trade associations and chambers of commerce. Network with members and establish referral partnerships.
  • E-commerce Platforms: If you specialize in importing/exporting goods related to e-commerce, collaborate with online marketplaces that could refer their sellers to your services.
  • Business Consultants: Business consultants often work with companies looking to expand globally. They can refer clients in need of import/export expertise.
  • Legal Firms: Attorneys specializing in international trade law can refer clients needing assistance with compliance, contracts, and legal aspects of import/export.
  • Manufacturers: Manufacturers seeking to export their products can refer you to their network for assistance with the logistics and export processes.
  • Financial Institutions: Establish partnerships with banks that offer international business services. They can refer clients who need assistance with cross-border transactions.
  • Export Development Agencies: Collaborate with government agencies focused on promoting exports. They may refer companies looking to expand their overseas market presence.

Remember, building a strong relationship with your referral partners is key.

Offer them value in return through referral fees, reciprocal referrals, or other mutually beneficial arrangements.

  • Assessing your skill set for running an Import/Export business is crucial. Your skills influence your business’s success.
  • Evaluate your abilities in negotiation, communication, market analysis, logistics, and customer relationship management.
  • If you lack a necessary skill, consider learning it through training or hiring professionals.

Essential Skills for an Import/Export Business Owner:

  • Market Research: Understanding global market trends and demands is vital.
  • Negotiation: Negotiating deals with suppliers, distributors, and customers.
  • Logistics Management: Efficiently coordinating shipments, customs clearance, and delivery.
  • Financial Acumen: Managing finances, calculating costs, and analyzing profitability.
  • Networking: Building relationships with industry professionals, suppliers, and customers.
  • Communication: Effective communication across cultures and languages.
  • Problem-Solving : Addressing unexpected challenges in international trade.
  • Risk Management: Mitigating potential risks, such as currency fluctuations and geopolitical uncertainties.
  • Legal Awareness: Understanding international trade regulations and compliance.
  • Adaptability: Navigating changing market dynamics and adapting strategies.
  • Leadership: Managing a team if your business grows.
  • Technology Proficiency: Utilizing software for inventory, logistics, and communication.

These skills can lead to informed decision-making, efficient operations, and successful business expansion.

Knowledge Is Power if You Use It!

Knowledge Empowers: Industry Insights Await

Unveil valuable industry insights online.

These sections offer vital information for your research, startup, and operational phases. Dive in and harness the power of knowledge!

Trends and Statistics

Unveiling Industry Trends: Your Business Advantage

Explore industry trends and statistics for your Import/Export venture. Unlock valuable insights to steer your business toward success.

See the latest search results for trends and statistics related to the Import/Export industry.

Import/Export Associations

Empowerment Through Trade Associations

Trade associations offer vital industry insights, networking, and events that keep you informed and connected.

Maximize your business potential with these valuable resources.

See the search results related to Import/Export associations.

The Top Import/Export Companies

Learning From Successful Models

Studying established Import/Export businesses can reveal innovative gaps in the industry or overlooked opportunities in your own venture.

See the latest search results for the top Import/Export companies.

The Future of the Import/Export Industry

Anticipating Industry Evolution

Researching the industry’s future is crucial for aspiring Import/Export business owners to prepare for upcoming trends, changes, and opportunities.

See the search results for the future of the Import/Export industry.

Import/Export Businesses for Sale

Buying vs. Starting: Weighing Your Options

When considering an existing Import/Export business for purchase, weigh the benefits:

  • Immediate Revenue Generation.
  • Skips Startup Phase.
  • Proven Business Model.
  • Known Financials & Customer Base.
  • Established Reputation.

However, note the downsides:

  • Higher Cost due to Goodwill.
  • Potential Customer Loss with Changes.
  • Inheriting Both Positive and Negative Reputation.

While an exact match might not be available, exploring the industry’s existing businesses can provide valuable insights for your decision-making process. Check out the link to learn more.

See the latest search results for a Import/Export business for sale and others closely related.

Franchise Opportunities Related to an Import/Export

Exploring Import/Export Franchises: A Balanced View

Considering an Import/Export franchise ? Understand the benefits and drawbacks before you decide:

  • Proven Business Model: Follow a successful blueprint from the corporate office.
  • Leverage Existing Reputation and Marketing.
  • Comprehensive Pre-Knowledge of the Business.
  • Corporate Support and Guidance.
  • Higher Initial Investment.
  • Limited Freedom for Major Changes.
  • Restricted to Approved Products/Services.
  • Bound by Franchise Agreement Terms.
  • Ongoing Franchise Fees.

Exploring franchise opportunities could uncover aspects of your Import/Export venture that you hadn’t considered.

While an exact match may not be available, browsing franchises in the same industry can provide valuable insights. Check out the link to learn more.

See the latest search results for franchise opportunities related to this industry.

Import/Export Business Insights

Valuable Insights for Your Import/Export Business

Exploring tips and insights offers a wealth of knowledge. Discover brilliant ideas, avoid pitfalls, and enrich your understanding of the industry.

See the latest search results about insights into running an Import/Export business.

Import/Export Publications

Staying Informed: The Power of Publications

Publications serve as a dynamic resource for staying updated on the latest trends and insights within the Import/Export business landscape.

See the search results for Import/Export publications.

Import/Export Forums

Forums: Connecting and Learning in Import/Export

Participating in Import/Export forums offers a unique opportunity to engage in discussions, connect with industry peers, and gain valuable customer insights, enriching your perspective.

See the latest search results related to Import/Export forums.

Courses: Expanding Expertise for Import/Export Success

Enroll in online or local courses to enhance your skills, broaden your knowledge, and ensure ongoing professional growth within the Import/Export field.

See the latest courses on Import/Export  and our management articles to provide insights and tips on managing Your business.

Import/Export Blogs

Stay Informed: Subscribing to Import/Export Blogs

Subscribe to relevant Import/Export blogs to receive up-to-date insights and ideas.

Over time, curate your list by focusing on blogs that consistently providing valuable and current information for your business journey.

Look at the latest search results for Import/Export blogs to follow.

Import/Export News

Stay Current with Industry News

Regularly check industry news sources to stay informed about trends, developments, and updates in the Import/Export field.

See the latest results for Import/Export news.

YouTube for Insights

Explore YouTube for videos related to Import/Export business.

Many creators share valuable insights, tips, and tutorials that can enhance your knowledge and understanding of the industry.

See the links to YouTube Videos Below.

Videos related to starting an Import/Export business can be found here.

Privacy Overview

Official Website of the International Trade Administration

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Website

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

  • Search ITA Search

Person at computer using phone

Sample Export Plan

Sample export plan .

Completing an international business plan helps you to anticipate future goals, assemble facts, identify constraints and create an action statement. It should set forth specific objectives and implement a timetable and milestones. A strategy for entering or expanding into targeted markets is critical to your success in the global marketplace.   

Conduct an “audit” of your company to determine how exporting will impact your operations. Consider the management issues for exporting, approaches to exporting, distribution channels and other important considerations that will impact your business. 

Understand the key components of an effective, actionable export plan. Just as no two companies are alike, there is no one-size-fits-all export plan. Your export plan should be an extension of your overall business plan, if not infused completely into your business plan. Many of the same questions for your international sales strategies will apply to your domestic sales plan. 

Have a clear idea of the information you need to collect and sources where you might find that information.  

Creating an international export plan is important for defining your company’s present status and internal goals and commitment. It is also required if you plan to seek export financing assistance. Prepare a plan prior to requesting bank loans. This can save both time and money.  

Sample Outline of an Export Plan 

Part I: Export Policy Commitment Statement    

Part II: Situation or Background Analysis 

Product/Service for Export 

Export License (if needed) 

Personal Export Organization 

Products/Services to be Exported 

Products that Qualify Under FTAs 

Resources Outside the Company 

Industry Structure, Competition, Demand Operations 

Export Control Compliance 

Product Classifications 

Resources Inside the Company 

​​  Part III: Marketing Component 

​Identifying, Evaluating, and Selecting Markets 

Product Selection and Pricing 

Distribution Methods                                             

Internal Organization and Procedures 

Sales Goals (Profit and Loss Forecasts)                

Terms and Conditions 

Pricing with Consideration of Duties, Taxes   

Freight Costs, and Logistics Included  

  Part IV: Tactics—Action Steps 

Primary Target Countries 

Indirect Marketing Efforts 

Quarterly Accomplishments 

Secondary Target Countries  

​  Part V: Export Budget 

Pro-forma Financial Statements     

Marketing Materials 

Travel       

Website Enhancements 

Trade Show Visits 

Other Costs 

​  Part VI: Implementation Schedule 

Follow-up 

Periodic Operational and Management Review (Measuring Results against the Plan) 

  Addenda: Background Data on Target 

Basic Market Statistics (Historical and Projected) 

Background Facts 

Competitive Environment 

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

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Home » How to Write a Business Plan for Your Import-Export Business

How to Write a Business Plan for Your Import-Export Business

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

January 20, 2021

The world is more interconnected than it’s ever been. This provides a perfect opportunity for you to create your own import-export business. Whether it’s importing beautiful textiles from another continent or exporting local Canadian products abroad, all you need is passion and drive to get started.

You probably have plenty of ideas swirling around in your head, but the only way to make your business a reality and ensure your success is to write a winning business plan. Business plans are notoriously long and complex but don’t be disheartened. Here are 6 steps to writing the perfect business plan for your import-export company:

1. Start with an Executive Summary.

Think of this as the ultimate introduction to your business. It should concisely delineate exactly what you want as a business owner. Remember, you need to know where your business is going. It’s up to you to clarify your vision. No one is going to be as passionate about your import-export storefront as you are.

Your executive summary should have:

  • Your business concept : what you’ll sell, who will purchase it, and why your business will work
  • Financial points : your sales, profits, cash flows, and ROI
  • Required finances : what capital is needed and how it will be used
  • Current business state : a short history of your business including key members of staff
  • Achievements : may include test marketing, facility locations, important contracts, etc.

Keep it short and sweet. Ideally, your executive summary will be no more than half a page. The rest of your business plan is where you’ll go into greater detail about these components.

It might be helpful to go through How to Start an Import Export Business before you create your executive summary to ensure everything is carefully thought out before you present it in your business plan.

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

2. Include a Business Description.

This is your opportunity to describe exactly what you’re importing or exporting and how it will succeed. Are you importing Congolese avocados? Show how you can guarantee perfect ripeness when they reach stores. Are you exporting blenders to Bolivia? Demonstrate you’ve found the perfect blender to suit the demand of that market.

Here are some questions to consider and incorporate:

  • How does the industry look now and how might it change in the future?
  • Is your business brand new or already established?
  • What kind of business is it (e.g. partnership, corporation)?
  • What are the ins and outs of the distribution of your product?
  • How is your business better than your competitors?
  • What exactly makes your business profitable?

Don’t forget insurance. Investors and lenders need to see you’re responsible and won’t lose money from major oversights. You might think skipping product insurance will help you make more money, but this is a huge mistake in the long run. Find a premium insurance company and include that information in your business description.

3. Conduct a Market Analysis.

Roll up your sleeves—this part takes a lot of effort. If you put the work in and do  the research, it will pay off. The point of your market analysis is to demonstrate your knowledge of the market and your ability to claim a significant share of it. 

A great market analysis can look like this:

  • Define the market : talk about size, trends, rules and regulations, prospective growth areas, and sales potential
  • Nail down the total feasible market : specifically address the portion of the market your business can realistically capture
  • Estimate market share : take into consideration industry growth and your product’s life cycle
  • Determine pricing : discuss your reasons for pricing and how you will cover costs
  • Explain your promotion strategy : this includes advertising, packaging, PR, etc.

Factor in exchange rates. As you’re figuring out your price, be sure to include  exchange rates in your calculations. Neglecting this could sink your business. You might want to consider using the local currency of the country you’re working with, especially if they use an international currency such as euros or US dollars. Are you planning on exporting to the EU? Don’t miss this helpful guide .

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

4. Summarize a Competitive Analysis.

Not quite the same as your market analysis, your competitive analysis focuses mainly on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Planning to import Italian cars? Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. What options do they have for purchasing an Italian car? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each option?

After you make a list of all your potential competitors, you’ll want to organize all the information in a competitive strength grid, which outlines which competitors are strong in each skill category and which ones are weak (e.g. price, product quality).

Lastly, you’ll need to clearly define your competitive advantage. Do you have a  lower price point? Are your cars of better quality? Do you have a more solid advertising plan? Can you break into a new market? 

Your price equates to your product’s value. If you price your product too far below your competitors, it may cheapen your product in the eyes of consumers. There’s nothing wrong with trying to outpace your competitors in pricing, but make sure you don’t overdo it and cause your customers to overlook your product due to a lower perceived quality.

5. Create a Design & Development Plan.

This is where you focus on details, details, details. How are you going to make your business a reality? Now is your opportunity to get it all on paper.

Here are some questions to answer in this section:

  • What are your goals for product development?
  • Which procedures will you have in place for product review, marketing, and distribution?
  • What is your exact production schedule?
  • What’s in your detailed development budget?
  • How many employees need to be recruited and in what areas?
  • What possible risks are apparent?
  • How will your business function on a continuing basis?
  • What is the organizational structure of your business?

If you’ve left any of these questions unanswered, you’ll need to add more details.

Don’t go it alone. You might prefer to do everything on your own, but that will only leave you overworked and exhausted. There are so many specifics in the import-export world that you can easily get overwhelmed. Do yourself a favor and hire a team to help.

Are you planning on selling your product on Amazon? Check out these useful logistical tips .

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

6. Don’t Forget the Financial Data.

When it comes down to it, this is what investors really want to see. This is how  they’ll determine whether your business – anything from exporting dresses to importing sailboats – will succeed or not.

You’ll need to include three statements in the financial section:

  • Income statement : a simple report on monthly sales and expenses
  • Cash flow statement : a schedule of what money is needed and where it will come from
  • Balance sheet : a summary of your business’s assets, liabilities, and equity

Let your words be few. You should include a short analysis statement after the income statement, but resist the temptation to ramble. The idea is to let the financial statements in this portion speak for themselves.

Once you’ve finished your business plan, send it out to investors and lenders you’ve already established a connection with. Make big asks—you never know who might say yes! With an excellent import export business plan at your disposal, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful business owner.

BorderBuddy creates importing and exporting solutions for any size of business. We specialize in smoothing the process for you—handling the paperwork and logistics so you can focus on growing your company. We love supporting small businesses and are proud of the success stories we’ve been a part of. Give us a call and let us help you create a unique and sustainable import-export business today.

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Import Export Business Plan

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Visigoth Imports Inc

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

Visigoth Imports will provide complete import/export brokerage services including purchase contracts, shipping, warehousing, and delivery scheduling. The company will concentrate on special and cultural imports from Germany and Scandinavia to the unique Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA.  Visigoth will provide trade consultation services to newly started farms created under the Puget Consumers Co-op’s Farmland Fund initiative.

Visigoth will be concentrating on servicing just two types of clients, the gift shops of Leavenworth, Washington, and the farmers of the Puget Consumers Co-op (PCC). For both market segments, we have secured exclusive contracts or endorsements putting us in a unique position to service these niche firms and their needs.

Profitability in these two markets is expected to be excellent, especially in the import section as Leavenworth draws in over a million tourists each year. We expect profitability in the co-op end to be much slower in the first five years of operation, but it too will increase steadily.

Competition

Competition includes all potential importing firms that serve small enterprises such as farms and specialty gift shops. Practically speaking, this means the largest import/export firms such as Fisher-Mills, Eagle Distributing, and other large, nationwide companies will not compete with us. Most other companies tend to be regionally focused. The foreign trade industry is highly fragmented, with a large number of small companies that mainly cater to small firms and a few large companies that seek the largest contracts from companies such as Microsoft, GM, etc. This makes competition within the industry very intense. Through our niche strategy we intend to avoid competition and its drawbacks such as price wars, etc.

 We will become the preferred import company for the unique tourist town of Leavenworth. Visigoth understands that the import shops and restaurants in Leavenworth have special needs of most unique gifts for the million tourists that visit the town annually. Visigoth Imports also understands that the newly launched farms of the PCC farmland fund initiative also have higher costs than most competitors and will need to export their produce at a cost that provides sufficient profit. Visigoth Imports has a combined 35 years of experience working in the import/export business. Our philosophy is in creating a long-term relationship with clients so that the delivery of their products becomes a seamless experience that promotes loyalty.

Expectations

Most of the company’s liabilities will come from outside private investors and management investment, however, we have obtained current borrowing from Bank of America Commercial Investments, the principal to be paid off in two years. A long-term loan through Charter Bank of Nieurich will be paid off in ten years.

The company expects to reach profitability in year 2 and does not anticipate any serious cash flow problems. We expect that about 3,500 units per month will guarantee a break-even point.

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

We will be getting $84,000 from the four founders. 

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Problem & solution, our solution.

The company will concentrate on special and cultural imports from Germany and Scandinavia to the unique Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA. Visigoth also plans to export apples and other produce by newly started farms created under the Puget Consumers Co-op’s Farmland Fund initiative.

We will become the preferred import company for the unique tourist town of Leavenworth. Visigoth understands that the import shops and restaurants in Leavenworth have special needs of most unique gifts for the million tourists that visit the town annually. Visigoth Imports also understands that the newly launched farms of the PCC farmland fund initiative also have higher costs than most competitors and will need to export their produce at a cost that provides sufficient profit. Visigoth Imports has a combined 35 years of experience working in the import/export business. Our philosophy is in creating a long-term relationship with clients so that the delivery of their products becomes a seamless experience that promotes loyalty.

Target Market

Market size & segments.

Visigoth will be concentrating on servicing just two types of clients, the gift shops of Leavenworth, Washington, and the farmers of the Puget Consumers Co-op. For both market segments, we have secured exclusive contracts or endorsements that put us in a unique position to service these niche firms and their more demanding needs.

Profitability in these two markets is expected to be excellent, especially in the import segment as Leavenworth draws in over a million tourists each year. We expect profitability in the co-op end to be much slower in the first five years of operation, but will increase steadily.

Visigoth intends to be a small import/export company focused on clients serving a niche market. Having secured a very advantageous contract with PCC and gained the endorsement of the Leavenworth city council, we plan to focus exclusively on these market segments. Both have such high potential that we do not see a need to expand our market reach for the foreseeable future.

Current alternatives

Companies usually enter into contracts with import/export firms based on a firm’s reputation for professionalism and service. With no proven track record, a star-up import/export company obtains a "good reputation" through its personnel, people who have experience in other businesses in the industry. Price, reliability and scope are the driving factors for accepting contracts, especially if the import/export company is small.

Our niche clients have different needs than most other firms. Our import clients need to have relatively small numbers of expensive and fragile products moved from Europe to local warehouses in Wenatchee and Leavenworth. Most of these items are handmade so handling is a special issue. In addition, the small companies and shops in Leavenworth depend a great deal on their import agents to alert them to new and unique product introductions overseas.

On the other end, the farms belonging to the PCC need to keep export costs as low as possible since many of them are start-up ventures with initially high overhead. Quite a few trade firms do not accept these types of contracts and leave it to the co-ops to create their own exporting ventures. This can lead to higher costs as most co-ops do not have the core competencies in import/export issues.

Our advantages

The town brings in an average 24 million dollars in revenue each year, and since much of the town’s profits are based on the sale of alpine and Scandinavian gifts, the opportunity for a company such as Visigoth is almost unmatched. In 2002 a town meeting of the principal shop owners in Leavenworth was held concerning the present contracts with the community’s main importer, Deutsche Gifts. The previously good relations between the community and the import firm had soured due to rising costs and unreliable service. The result of the meeting was to look for another importer better able to meet the local needs once the current contract expired. Mr. Frank Curtiss successfully bid for the contract, and the idea of Visigoth was born.

Visigoth has made arrangements to export produce from member farms established by the Puget Consumers Co-op Farmland Fund. The Fund works to secure and preserve threatened farmland in Washington State and move it into organic production. The Fund’s primary focus is on large, functional landscapes of local, regional and statewide importance so protection can be extended to biodiversity and wildlife habitat as well as to farmers and farming communities. The Fund is an independent, community-supported non-profit land trust founded in 1999. The Fund has already rescued a half dozen farms within the state and plans to increase these projects so that by 2007 there will be at least 36 farms that come under the fund’s protection. In addition, approximately 60 farms belonging to the Co-op have expressed interest in contracting with Visigoth.

Keys to Success

Visigoth Imports’ keys to long-term and profitability are as follows:

  • Differentiate our services to our niche clients so that they realize that we are better able to serve their needs than a more generic competitor.
  • Keeping close contact with clients and establishing a well functioning long-term relationship with them to generate repeat business and create a top notch reputation.
  • Establish a comprehensive service experience for our clients that includes consultation, product/client search, purchasing contracts, warehousing, shipping, delivery, and follow up service analysis.

Marketing & Sales

Marketing plan.

Visigoth intends to leverage its contacts with the Leavenworth city council and the Puget Consumers Co-op in order to draw in new clients. The city council works very closely with local businesses in facilitating all aspects of business management in order to keep tourism flowing. Because of this, Visigoth has already signed contracts with nine Leavenworth businesses and we expect to gain a dominant market share within the town.

The PCC will be recommending Visigoth Imports, Inc. to its new farmers as long as we can keep shipping costs within accepted limits. Therefore we expect to have a large proportion of member farmers use our services.

Visigoth intends to develop sales by establishing close contact with potential clients. We will begin by offering a free consultation in terms of overall cost, service, and delivery. In addition, we intend to promote our management team’s extensive experience both with German gift manufacturers and artisans, and our knowledge of the produce trade environment to draw in our target market segments.

Visigoth offers complete import/export brokerage services plus inventory consulting services. As mentioned previously, this includes the following:

  • Supplier/buyer identification
  • Purchasing process contracting and consulting
  • Shipping setup
  • Warehousing arrangements

It must be noted that Visigoth does not posess any warehousing facilities and intends to outsource this particular service.This means that we will have virtually no variable costs associated with unit sales.

Visigoth will be importing such things as steins, figurines, Christmas gifts, germanic foodstuffs, cuckoo clocks, and nutcrackers from Germany, where Mr. Curtiss has had extensive experience. In addition Visigoth will be importing Scandinavian wool products such as sweaters and other gift items. 

The company will be exporting produce, primarily apples, to Europe.

Our revenue model is based on a commission rate charged to our clients scaled on the dollar value of goods moved per order.

Milestones & Metrics

Milestones table, key metrics.

Our key metrics are: 

  • monitor tweets and retweets to measure long term customer relationships 
  • # of reviews 
  • # of returning customers 
  • # of our most popular products 

Ownership & Structure

The company will have a number of outside private investors who will own 27% of the company’s shares. The rest will be owned by the senior management including Mr. Frank Curtiss, (25%), Ms. Hannah Mills (20%), Mr. Steve Iltheus (20%), and Mr. Pierce Bolm (8%). All other financing will come from loans.

Management team

Visigoth’s management brings to the company strong capabilities in all aspects of trade relations, logistics, contracting and selling.

Mr. Frank Curtiss is a former master distributor with Fisher-Mills, one of the nation’s largest import/export firms. During his 10 years with Fisher-Mills he worked exclusively on trade contracts with Germany. Mr. Curtiss accepted a position with Eagle Distributors as a department head. By introducing American wines into eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics he demonstrated his flair for opening new markets. Mr. Curtiss has an MBA in finance and an BS in International Relations.

Ms. Hannah Mills graduated with honors from the University of Oregon, having earned a bachelors degree in marketing.  After that Ms. Mills worked for Stanford Distributors working with canning companies in the midwest region. After that she went to work for Anderson Consulting in their International Trade division. Finally Ms. Mills became vice president of A.V. Imports.

Personnel Table

Financial plan investor-ready personnel plan .">, key assumptions.

We assume: 

  • Everyone appreciates a beautiful spot 
  • The town and company has a lot to offer tourists 

Revenue by Month

Expenses by month, net profit (or loss) by year, use of funds.

Our use of funds are:

Legal $2,000

Insurance $1,000

Rent $2,000

Accounting and bookkeeping fees $2,000

Expensed equipment $2,000

Advertising $4,000

Other $8,000

TOTAL START-UP EXPENSES $21,000

Sources of Funds

Our Planned investment is: 

Mr. Frank Curtiss $25,000

Ms. Hannah Mills $23,000

Mr. Steve Iltheus $23,000

Mr. Pierce Bolm $23,000

TOTAL PLANNED INVESTMENT $84,000

Projected Profit and Loss

Projected balance sheet, projected cash flow statement.

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How to write a business plan for your import/export company.

business plan for an import/export company

Starting an import/export company can be a great way to capitalize on global markets and create a profitable business.

It can also open up opportunities to source and sell products from different countries, allowing businesses to benefit from cost savings, new markets, and a wider selection of products.

Don't start without having built a business plan though.

Writing a business plan before starting a new project is an important step to ensure success. It will help identify potential risks and opportunities, and provide a roadmap for the project.

In short, a good business plan will help ensure the profitability of your import/export company .

What information should you put into the business plan of an import/export company? How should it be arranged? What financial metrics should be included? What are some tips for writing a business plan in the most efficient way possible?

Good news, you can find all the answers to these questions in the forthcoming article!

One last thing: it's not mandatory to start your business plan from scratch.

You can download our professional business plan for an import/export company and adjust it to match your preferences.

business plan international trading company

Crafting an elaborate business plan for an import/export company

Should you consider writing a business plan for your import/export company.

Yes, you should consider writing a business plan for your import/export company.

Designing a cohesive business plan will equip you to:

  • learn about the import/export market
  • stay tuned to the industry's fresh trends
  • establish what makes an import/export company thriving
  • understand market demands and international trade regulations to facilitate efficient import/export operations
  • come up with a great value proposition for your global trade firm
  • assess competitor brand reputation
  • discover competitive differentiators for your import/export company
  • find a business model that will lead to a positive bottom line
  • establish and execute a strategic action plan to drive sustainable growth
  • assess potential risks involved in running an import/export company, such as customs regulations, supply chain disruptions, and international trade policies

Our team has created a business plan for an import/export company to help you accomplish all the elements that have been listed

How to structure a business plan for an import/export company?

Your business plan will be filled with various metrics and data. It must be well structured, to make easy to read and digest.

When we built our business plan for an import/export company , we made sure to outline it properly.

There are 5 main sections (Opportunity, Project, Market Research, Strategy and Finances).

1. Market Opportunity

The opening section is labeled as "Market Opportunity."

Discover important data and figures about the import/export industry in this section, helping you understand global trade dynamics and market opportunities.

The data here is always fresh; we update it twice a year.

2. Project Presentation

In the "Project" section, you can detail your import/export company, specifying the products or goods you trade, target markets or countries, logistics and shipping capabilities, customs regulations expertise, trade financing services, and the unique value proposition that ensures smooth international trade transactions for your clients.

Also include a short description about yourself at the end of this section.

Explain your expertise in import/export operations, your knowledge of international trade regulations, and how you plan to provide seamless import/export services to clients. Highlight your network of global partners, your ability to navigate complex customs procedures, and your dedication to ensuring smooth and efficient international trade transactions for your customers.

We've written descriptions for you. You can keep them as they are or customize them to fit your business idea perfectly.

3. Market Research

Then, we reach the "Market Research" section.

In this section, you will find a detailed market segmentation analysis for your import/export company.

It includes a presentation of other import/export companies in the industry that will be competing with you. Your company's expertise in international trade and competitive advantages are also highlighted. A customized SWOT analysis is included.

4. Strategy

The "Strategy" section encompasses a complete growth plan, delineating the necessary steps and initiatives to make your import/export company exceptionally profitable.

Moreover, this section comprises a marketing plan, a strategy to mitigate risks, and a completed Business Model Canvas.

5. Finances

In the end, you'll find the "Finances" section, which outlines the financial details of your project.

business plan import/export company

How to draft the Executive Summary for an import/export company?

The Executive Summary is like an introduction to the business plan for your import/export company.

Don't surpass 2 pages; only include the necessary details.

When you show your business plan to a bank, this is the first part they will see. It needs to grab their attention and make them want to read the rest of the plan.

In the Executive Summary of your import/export company, provide answers to these questions: what types of products do you import/export through your company? who is your target market? who are your competitors in the industry? how do you differentiate from them? what is your budget?

How to do the market analysis for an import/export company?

Analyzing the market for your import/export company allows you to gain insights into factors such as global trade dynamics, competition within the import/export industry, and emerging trends in international commerce.

By conducting a comprehensive market analysis, an import/export company can identify international trade opportunities, establish strong supplier and client relationships, optimize pricing strategies, and execute targeted marketing campaigns, ultimately leading to increased trade volume, higher profitability, and a successful import/export business venture.

This is what we've outlined in the "Market Research" section of our business plan for an import/export company :

  • fresh and updated data and statistics about the import/export market, including trade volumes, top trading partners, and global trade trends
  • a list of potential market segments for an import/export company
  • the competitor study
  • the potential competitive advantages for an import/export company

business plan import/export company

The key points of the business plan for an import/export company

What's the business model of an import/export company, business model of an import/export company.

An import/export company's business model centers around facilitating the movement of goods or products between countries or markets. Revenue is generated through fees or commissions based on the value of imported/exported goods.

The business model focuses on global trade regulations and logistics, establishing relationships with international suppliers or buyers, ensuring efficient shipping and customs clearance, effective marketing to target importers/exporters, and building strong business relationships based on trust and reliable trade services.

Success depends on industry knowledge and connections, delivering timely and cost-effective import/export solutions, maintaining compliance with international trade regulations, fostering positive customer experiences and recommendations, and continuously adapting to changing global trade dynamics and market demands.

Business model vs Business plan

It's important to understand the distinction between "business plan" and "business model."

A business model is a framework that outlines how a company creates value, delivers products or services, and generates revenue.

In a business plan, you use a tool called the Business Model Canvas to outline how your business works.

And, of course, there is a Business Model Canvas (already completed) in our business plan for an import/export company .

How do you identify the market segments of an import/export company?

Market segmentation for your import/export company involves dividing your potential customers into different groups based on their import/export needs, target markets, and demographics.

These categories may include factors such as specific product categories, geographical regions, trading volumes, or customers seeking specific import/export services or expertise (e.g., customs clearance, logistics).

By segmenting your market, you can offer specialized import/export solutions and services that cater to each segment's specific requirements. For example, you might focus on specific product categories such as electronics, apparel, or food and provide import/export services and expertise within those categories, offer services targeting specific geographical regions or markets and facilitate trade between different countries or continents, specialize in import/export logistics and provide efficient supply chain solutions for businesses, or focus on specific import/export services or expertise such as customs clearance or trade compliance to meet the unique needs and preferences of each customer segment.

Market segmentation allows you to effectively target your marketing efforts, communicate your expertise in import/export operations, and provide reliable and smooth trade solutions that meet the unique needs and preferences of each customer segment.

In the business plan for an import/export company , you will find a detailed market segmentation that gives you insights into your potential customers.

How to conduct a competitor analysis for an import/export company?

It's clear that you won't be the only import/export company in the industry. There are other businesses facilitating the international trade of goods and products.

Conducting a comprehensive market study and analyzing your competitors' strengths and weaknesses are essential components of a well-rounded business plan.

Be aware of their weaknesses (such as inefficient logistics processes, limited market research, or poor supplier relationships).

Why is it important to address these aspects? Because these weaknesses can impact the success of import/export companies.

By focusing on these areas, you can ensure efficient logistics and customs clearance, establish strong international partnerships, and provide excellent customer service, positioning your company as a reliable and preferred choice for global trade solutions.

It's what we call competitive advantages—enhancing them will help your business excel.

Here are some examples of competitive advantages for an import/export company: extensive global network and trade connections, efficient logistics and supply chain management, expertise in international trade regulations, competitive pricing and terms, exceptional customer service and support.

How to draft a SWOT analysis for an international trading company?

A SWOT analysis can help identify potential opportunities and threats associated with starting an import/export company and inform decisions about how to best pursue success.

As you can guess, there is indeed a completed and editable SWOT matrix in our business plan for an import/export company

The strengths for an import/export company

S stands for Strengths in SWOT, representing the project's valuable strengths or advantages.

For an import/export company, potential strengths could include global connections, access to overseas markets, knowledge of international regulations, and an understanding of local cultures.

The weaknesses for an import/export company

The letter "W" signifies Weaknesses, which are the areas or aspects of the project that could be improved upon.

For an import/export company, potential weaknesses may include: limited product knowledge, lack of global market presence, lack of local contacts, and inadequate supply chain management.

The opportunities for an import/export company

O stands for Opportunities in SWOT, representing the external factors that can contribute to the project's success.

In the case of an import/export company, potential opportunities include importing goods from low-cost countries, exporting high-demand products to new markets, leveraging digital technology to optimize supply chains, and offering specialized services such as customs clearance and freight forwarding.

The threats for an import/export company

T represents Threats, which are the external factors or circumstances that can pose challenges or risks to the project.

How to outline a marketing strategy for an international trading company?

Including a marketing strategy in your business plan is important to attract customers and generate revenue.

An international trading company can gain clients by developing an effective marketing approach that highlights the company's global network, expertise in international trade, and ability to facilitate seamless import and export transactions.

Businesses won't trade with your international trading company without effective marketing; showcasing your global network, market expertise, and reliable sourcing capabilities is necessary.

Are you utilizing marketing tactics to promote your international trading company? Consider attending international trade shows or business expos, leveraging digital platforms to connect with potential clients or suppliers, and utilizing targeted advertising campaigns to reach businesses interested in global trade.

No need to worry if you're clueless about marketing and communication – it's not a big deal.

How to build financial projections for an international trading company?

A successful business plan must include detailed financial information, such as income and expense projections, cash flow statements, and a break-even analysis.

When creating your business plan, you must include anticipated revenue figures for your import/export company.

It is essential to have a revenue forecast that is both relevant and credible so that your business plan impresses banks or investors.

Our financial plan for an import/export company is easy to use and includes built-in checks to help you identify and correct any assumptions, ensuring you create reliable projections with confidence.

No doubt, you'll have to establish an initial budget for launching your import/export company. Don't overlook any expense. By the way, we've listed them all in our financial plan!

By conducting a break-even analysis, you can assess whether your import/export company will be profitable or not.

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How to write a business plan for an import-export company?

import-export company business plan

Creating a business plan for an import-export company is an essential process for any entrepreneur. It serves as a roadmap that outlines the necessary steps to be taken to start or grow the business, the resources required, and the anticipated financial outcomes. It should be crafted with method and confidence.

This guide is designed to provide you with the tools and knowledge necessary for creating an import-export company business plan, covering why it is so important both when starting up and running an established business, what should be included in your plan, how it should be structured, what tools should be used to save time and avoid errors, and other helpful tips.

We have a lot to cover, so let's get to it!

In this guide:

Why write a business plan for an import-export company?

  • What information is needed to create a business plan for an import-export company?
  • What goes in the financial forecast for an import-export company?
  • What goes in the written part of an import-export company business plan?
  • What tool can I use to write my import-export company business plan?

Understanding the document's scope and goals will help you easily grasp its structure and content. Before diving into the specifics of the plan, let's take a moment to explore the key reasons why having an import-export company business plan is so crucial.

To have a clear roadmap to grow the business

It's rarely business as usual for small businesses. The economy follows cycles where years of growth are followed by recessions, and the business environment is always changing with new technologies, new regulations, new competitors, and new consumer behaviours appearing all the time...

In this context, running a business without a clear roadmap is like driving blindfolded: it's dangerous at best. That's why writing a business plan for an import-export company is essential to create successful and sustainable businesses.

To write an effective business plan, you will need to take stock of where you are (if you are already in business) and where you want the business to go in the next three to five years.

Once you know where you want your import-export company to be, you'll have to identify:

  • what resources (human, equipment, and capital) are needed to get there,
  • at what pace the business needs to progress to get there in time,
  • and what risks you'll face along the way.

Going through this process regularly is beneficial, both for startups and existing companies, as it helps make informed decisions about how best to allocate resources to ensure the long-term success of the business.

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To get visibility on future cash flows

If your small import-export company runs out of cash: it's game over. That's why we often say "cash is king", and it's crucial to have a clear view of your import-export company's future cash flows.

So, how can you achieve this? It's simple - you need to have an up-to-date financial forecast.

The good news is that your import-export company business plan already includes a financial forecast (which we'll discuss further in this guide). Your task is to ensure it stays current.

To accomplish this, it's essential to regularly compare your actual financial performance with what was planned in your financial forecast. Based on your business's current trajectory, you can make adjustments to the forecast.

By diligently monitoring your import-export company's financial health, you'll be able to spot potential financial issues, like unexpected cash shortfalls, early on and take corrective actions. Moreover, this practice will enable you to recognize and capitalize on growth opportunities, such as excess cash flow enabling you to expand to new locations.

To secure financing

A detailed business plan becomes a crucial tool when seeking financing from banks or investors for your import-export company.

Investing and lending to small businesses are very risky activities given how fragile they are. Therefore, financiers have to take extra precautions before putting their capital at risk.

At a minimum, financiers will want to ensure that you have a clear roadmap and a solid understanding of your future cash flows (like we just explained above). But they will also want to ensure that your business plan fits the risk/reward profile they seek.

This will off-course vary from bank to bank and investor to investor, but as a rule of thumb. Banks will want to see a conservative financial management style (low risk), and they will use the information in your business plan to assess your borrowing capacity — the level of debt they think your business can comfortably handle — and your ability to repay the loan. This evaluation will determine whether they'll provide credit to your import-export company and the terms of the agreement.

Whereas investors will carefully analyze your business plan to gauge the potential return on their investment. Their focus lies on evidence indicating your import-export company's potential for high growth, profitability, and consistent cash flow generation over time.

Now that you recognize the importance of creating a business plan for your import-export company, let's explore what information is required to create a compelling plan.

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Information needed to create a business plan for an import-export company

Drafting an import-export company business plan requires research so that you can project sales, investments and cost accurately in your financial forecast, and convince the reader that there is a viable commercial opportunity to be seized.

Below, we'll focus on three critical pieces of information you should gather before starting to write your plan.

Carrying out market research for an import-export company

Before you begin writing your business plan for an import-export company, conducting market research is a critical step in ensuring precise and realistic financial projections.

Market research grants you valuable insights into your target customer base, competitors, pricing strategies, and other crucial factors that can impact the success of your business.

In the course of this research, you may stumble upon trends that could impact your import-export company.

Your market research might reveal that your import-export company could experience increased demand for certain products, due to changing consumer preferences. Additionally, it might reveal that customers may increasingly prefer online purchasing, so your company could benefit from investing in e-commerce capabilities.

Such market trends play a pivotal role in revenue forecasting, as they provide essential data regarding potential customers' spending habits and preferences.

By integrating these findings into your financial projections, you can provide investors with more accurate information, enabling them to make well-informed decisions about investing in your import-export company.

Developing the marketing plan for an import-export company

Before delving into your import-export company business plan, it's imperative to budget for sales and marketing expenses.

To achieve this, a comprehensive sales and marketing plan is essential. This plan should provide an accurate projection of the necessary actions to acquire and retain customers.

Additionally, it will outline the required workforce to carry out these initiatives and the corresponding budget for promotions, advertising, and other marketing endeavours.

By budgeting accordingly, you can ensure that the right resources are allocated to these vital activities, aligning them with the sales and growth objectives outlined in your business plan.

The staffing and capital expenditure requirements of an import-export company

Whether you are starting or expanding an import-export company, it is important to have a clear plan for recruitment and capital expenditures (investment in equipment and real estate) in order to ensure the success of the business.

Both the recruitment and investment plans need to be coherent with the timing and level of growth planned in your forecast, and require appropriate funding.

The staffing costs for an import-export company might include wages for employees, such as sales representatives, administrative staff, and customer service personnel. The company may also need to pay for any necessary training or certifications for employees. Equipment costs may include computers, phones, and other office equipment, as well as vehicles for transporting goods. Additionally, the company may need to purchase software to help manage their operations, or specialized equipment for handling or storing goods.

In order to create a realistic financial forecast, you will also need to consider the other operating expenses associated with running the business on a day-to-day basis (insurance, bookkeeping, etc.). 

Once you have all the necessary information to create a business plan for your import-export company, it is time to start creating your financial forecast.

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What goes into your import-export company's financial forecast?

The financial forecast of your import-export company will enable you to assess the profitability potential of your business in the coming years and how much capital is required to fund the actions planned in the business plan.

The four key outputs of a financial forecast for a import-export company are:

  • The profit and loss (P&L) statement ,
  • The projected balance sheet ,
  • The cash flow forecast ,
  • And the sources and uses table .

Let's take a closer look at each of these.

The projected P&L statement

The projected P&L statement for an import-export company shows how much revenue and profit your business is expected to make in the future.

example of projected profit and loss statement in a import-export company business plan

A healthy import-export company's P&L statement should show:

  • Sales growing at (minimum) or above (better) inflation
  • Stable (minimum) or expanding (better) profit margins
  • A healthy level of net profitability

This will of course depend on the stage of your business: numbers for a startup will look different than for an established import-export company.

The forecasted balance sheet of your import-export company

The projected balance sheet of your import-export company will enable the reader of your business plan to assess the overall financial health of your business.

It shows three elements: assets, liabilities and equity:

  • Assets: are productive resources owned by the business, such as equipment, cash, and accounts receivable (money owed by clients).
  • Liabilities: are debts owed to creditors, lenders, and other entities, such as accounts payable (money owed to suppliers).
  • Equity: includes the sums invested by the shareholders or business owners and the profits and losses accumulated by the business to date (which are called retained earnings). It is a proxy for the value of the owner's stake in the business.

projected balance sheet in a import-export company business plan example

Analysing your import-export company projected balance sheet provides an understanding of your import-export company's working capital structure, investment and financing policies.

In particular, the readers of your plan can compare the level of financial debt on the balance sheet to the equity value to measure the level of financial risk (equity doesn't need to be reimbursed, while financial debt must be repaid, making it riskier).

They can also use your balance sheet to assess your import-export company's liquidity and solvency:

  • A liquidity analysis: focuses on whether or not your business has sufficient cash and short-term assets to cover its liabilities due in the next 12 months.
  • A solvency analysis: takes and longer view to assess whether or not your business has the capacity to repay its debts over the medium-term.

The projected cash flow statement

A cash flow forecast for an import-export company shows how much cash the business is projected to generate or consume.

example of cash flow forecast in a import-export company business plan

The cash flow statement is divided into 3 main areas:

  • The operating cash flow shows how much cash is generated or consumed by the operations (running the business)
  • The investing cash flow shows how much cash is being invested in capital expenditure (equipment, real estate, etc.)
  • The financing cash flow shows how much cash is raised or distributed to investors and lenders

Looking at the cash flow forecast helps you to ensure that your business has enough cash to keep running, and can help you anticipate potential cash shortfalls.

It is also a best practice to include a monthly cash flow statement in the appendices of your import-export company business plan so that the readers can view the impact of seasonality on your business cash position and generation.

The initial financing plan

The initial financing plan, also known as a sources and uses table, is a valuable resource to have in your business plan when starting your import-export company as it reveals the origins of the money needed to establish the business (sources) and how it will be allocated (uses).

import-export company business plan: sources & uses example

Having this table helps show what costs are involved in setting up your import-export company, how risks are shared between founders, investors and lenders, and what the starting cash position will be. This cash position needs to be sufficient to sustain operations until the business reaches a break-even point.

Now that you have a clear understanding of what goes into the financial forecast of your import-export company business plan, let's shift our focus to the written part of the plan.

The written part of an import-export company business plan

The written part of an import-export company business plan plays a key role: it lays out the plan of action you intend to execute to seize the commercial opportunity you've identified on the market and provides the context needed for the reader to decide if they believe your plan to be achievable and your financial forecast to be realistic.

The written part of an import-export company business plan is composed of 7 main sections:

  • The executive summary
  • The presentation of the company
  • The products and services
  • The market analysis
  • The strategy
  • The operations
  • The financial plan

Let's go through the content of each section in more detail!

1. The executive summary

In your import-export company's business plan, the first section is the executive summary — a captivating overview of your plan that aims to pique the reader's interest and leave them eager to learn more about your business.

When crafting the executive summary, start with an introduction to your business, including its name, concept, location, how long it has been running, and what sets it apart. Briefly mention the products and services you plan to offer and your target customer profile.

Following that, provide an overview of the addressable market for your import-export company, current trends, and potential growth opportunities.

Next, include a summary of key financial figures like projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.

Finally, in the "ask" section, detail any funding requirements you may have.

2. The presentation of the company

As you build your import-export company business plan, the second section deserves attention as it delves into the structure and ownership, location, and management team of your company.

In the structure and ownership part, you'll provide valuable insights into the legal structure of the business, the identities of the owners, and their respective investments and ownership stakes. This level of transparency is vital, particularly if you're seeking financing, as it clarifies which legal entity will receive the funds and who holds the reins of the business.

Moving to the location part, you'll offer a comprehensive view of the company's premises and articulate why this specific location is strategic for the business, emphasizing factors like catchment area, accessibility, and nearby amenities.

When describing the location of your import-export company, you could emphasize its strategic proximity to many ports, which could provide easy access to international markets. You may also note its access to a skilled labor force in the region, as well as its potential for growth due to the large population in the area. Moreover, you could point out the potential for connecting with other businesses in the area that could be beneficial to your company. All of these factors could make your import-export company an attractive option for a third party financier.

Lastly, you should introduce your esteemed management team. Provide a thorough explanation of each member's role, background, and extensive experience.

It's equally important to highlight any past successes the management team has achieved and underscore the duration they've been working together. This information will instil trust in potential lenders or investors, showcasing the strength and expertise of your leadership team and their ability to deliver the business plan.

3. The products and services section

The products and services section of your import-export company business plan should include a detailed description of what your company sells to its customers. 

For example, your import-export company might offer sourcing services to its customers, helping them to find and purchase products from other countries. It could also provide freight forwarding and customs clearance help to get goods safely to their destination. Finally, it could also offer consulting services to help customers navigate international trade regulations and export laws.

The reader will want to understand what makes your import-export company unique from other businesses in this competitive market.

When drafting this section, you should be precise about the categories of products or services you sell, the clients you are targeting and the channels that you are targeting them through. 

import export company business plan: products and services section

4. The market analysis

When outlining your market analysis in the import-export company business plan, it's essential to include comprehensive details about customers' demographics and segmentation, target market, competition, barriers to entry, and relevant regulations.

The primary aim of this section is to give the reader an understanding of the market size and appeal while demonstrating your expertise in the industry.

To begin, delve into the demographics and segmentation subsection, providing an overview of the addressable market for your import-export company, key marketplace trends, and introducing various customer segments and their preferences in terms of purchasing habits and budgets.

Next, shift your focus to the target market subsection, where you can zoom in on the specific customer segments your import-export company targets. Explain how your products and services are tailored to meet the unique needs of these customers.

For example, your target market might include small businesses that are looking to expand their product portfolio. These businesses are typically looking for cost-effective solutions for sourcing and importing products from abroad. They may be looking for help navigating international regulations and standards, and often require assistance with logistics and shipping.

In the competition subsection, introduce your main competitors and explain what sets your import-export company apart from them.

Finally, round off your market analysis by providing an overview of the main regulations that apply to your import-export company.

5. The strategy section

When writing the strategy section of a business plan for your import-export company, it is essential to include information about your competitive edge, pricing strategy, sales & marketing plan, milestones, and risks and mitigants.

The competitive edge subsection should explain what sets your company apart from its competitors. This part is especially key if you are writing the business plan of a startup, as you have to make a name for yourself in the marketplace against established players.

The pricing strategy subsection should demonstrate how you intend to remain profitable while still offering competitive prices to your customers.

The sales & marketing plan should outline how you intend to reach out and acquire new customers, as well as retain existing ones with loyalty programs or special offers. 

The milestones subsection should outline what your company has achieved to date, and its main objectives for the years to come - along with dates so that everyone involved has clear expectations of when progress can be expected.

The risks and mitigants subsection should list the main risks that jeopardize the execution of your plan and explain what measures you have taken to minimize these. This is essential in order for investors or lenders to feel secure in investing in your venture.

Your import-export company may face a variety of risks. For example, the company could experience a sudden change in currency exchange rates, which could significantly affect the profitability of the business. Additionally, the company might experience delays in shipping times due to unexpected weather or other logistical issues, which could lead to customer dissatisfaction. It is important to be aware of these potential risks and to have strategies in place to mitigate them.

6. The operations section

The operations of your import-export company must be presented in detail in your business plan.

The first thing you should cover in this section is your staffing team, the main roles, and the overall recruitment plan to support the growth expected in your business plan. You should also outline the qualifications and experience necessary to fulfil each role, and how you intend to recruit (using job boards, referrals, or headhunters).

You should then state the operating hours of your import-export company - so that the reader can check the adequacy of your staffing levels - and any plans for varying opening times during peak season. Additionally, the plan should include details on how you will handle customer queries outside of normal operating hours.

The next part of this section should focus on the key assets and IP required to operate your business. If you depend on any licenses or trademarks, physical structures (equipment or property) or lease agreements, these should all go in there.

You could have key assets such as a fleet of trucks and a warehouse for storing goods. Additionally, the company might have intellectual property like a set of operational procedures that allow for efficient transport of goods or access to exclusive deals with suppliers that could give them a competitive advantage.

Finally, you should include a list of suppliers that you plan to work with and a breakdown of their services and main commercial terms (price, payment terms, contract duration, etc.). Investors are always keen to know if there is a particular reason why you have chosen to work with a specific supplier (higher-quality products or past relationships for example).

7. The presentation of the financial plan

The financial plan section is where we will include the financial forecast we talked about earlier in this guide.

Now that you have a clear idea of the content of an import-export company business plan, let's look at some of the tools you can use to create yours.

What tool should I use to write my import-export company's business plan?

In this section, we will be reviewing the two main options for writing an import-export company business plan efficiently:

  • Using specialized software,
  • Outsourcing the drafting to the business plan writer.

Using an online business plan software for your import-export company's business plan

Using online business planning software is the most efficient and modern way to write an import-export company business plan.

There are several advantages to using specialized software:

  • You can easily create your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
  • You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
  • You can access a library of dozens of complete business plan samples and templates for inspiration
  • You get a professional business plan, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
  • You can easily track your actual financial performance against your financial forecast
  • You can create scenarios to stress test your forecast's main assumptions
  • You can easily update your forecast as time goes by to maintain visibility on future cash flows
  • You have a friendly support team on standby to assist you when you are stuck

If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try The Business Plan Shop for free by signing up here .

Hiring a business plan writer to write your import-export company's business plan

Outsourcing your import-export company business plan to a business plan writer can also be a viable option.

Business plan writers are skilled in creating error-free business plans and accurate financial forecasts. Moreover, hiring a consultant can save you valuable time, allowing you to focus on day-to-day business operations.

However, it's essential to be aware that hiring business plan writers will be expensive, as you're not only paying for their time but also the software they use and their profit margin.

Based on experience, you should budget at least £1.5k ($2.0k) excluding tax for a comprehensive business plan, and more if you require changes after initial discussions with lenders or investors.

Also, exercise caution when seeking investment. Investors prefer their funds to be directed towards business growth rather than spent on consulting fees. Therefore, the amount you spend on business plan writing services and other consulting services should be insignificant compared to the amount raised.

Keep in mind that one drawback is that you usually don't own the business plan itself; you only receive the output, while the actual document is saved in the consultant's business planning software. This can make it challenging to update the document without retaining the consultant's services.

For these reasons, carefully consider outsourcing your import-export company business plan to a business plan writer, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of seeking outside assistance.

Why not create your import-export company's business plan using Word or Excel?

Using Microsoft Excel and Word (or their Google, Apple, or open-source equivalents) to write an import-export company business plan is a terrible idea.

For starters, creating an accurate and error-free financial forecast on Excel (or any spreadsheet) is very technical and requires both a strong grasp of accounting principles and solid skills in financial modelling.

As a result, it is unlikely anyone will trust your numbers unless - like us at The Business Plan Shop - you hold a degree in finance and accounting and have significant financial modelling experience in your past.

The second reason is that it is inefficient. Building forecasts on spreadsheets was the only option in the 1990s and early 2000s, nowadays technology has advanced and software can do it much faster and much more accurately.

And with the rise of AI, software is also becoming smarter at helping us detect mistakes in our forecasts and helping us analyse the numbers to make better decisions.

Also, using software makes it easy to compare actuals vs. forecasts and maintain our forecasts up to date to maintain visibility on future cash flows - as we discussed earlier in this guide - whereas this is a pain to do with a spreadsheet.

That's for the forecast, but what about the written part of my import-export company business plan?

This part is less error-prone, but here also software brings tremendous gains in productivity:

  • Word processors don't include instructions and examples for each part of your business plan
  • Word processors don't update your numbers automatically when they change in your forecast
  • Word processors don't handle the formatting for you

Overall, while Word or Excel may be viable options for creating an import-export company business plan for some entrepreneurs, it is by far not the best or most efficient solution.

  • Using business plan software is a modern and cost-effective way of writing and maintaining business plans.
  • A business plan is not a one-shot exercise as maintaining it current is the only way to keep visibility on your future cash flows.
  • A business plan has 2 main parts: a financial forecast outlining the funding requirements of your import-export company and the expected growth, profits and cash flows for the next 3 to 5 years; and a written part which gives the reader the information needed to decide if they believe the forecast is achievable.

We hope that this in-depth guide met your expectations and that you now have a clear understanding of how to write your import-export company business plan. Do not hesitate to contact our friendly team if you have questions additional questions we haven't addressed here.

Also on The Business Plan Shop

  • How to write a business plan to secure a bank loan?
  • Key steps to write a business plan?
  • Top mistakes to avoid in your business plan

Do you know entrepreneurs interested in starting or growing an import-export company? Share this article with them!

Guillaume Le Brouster

Founder & CEO at The Business Plan Shop Ltd

Guillaume Le Brouster is a seasoned entrepreneur and financier.

Guillaume has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and has first-hand experience of starting, running, and growing a successful business.

Prior to being a business owner, Guillaume worked in investment banking and private equity, where he spent most of his time creating complex financial forecasts, writing business plans, and analysing financial statements to make financing and investment decisions.

Guillaume holds a Master's Degree in Finance from ESCP Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business & Management from Paris Dauphine University.

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10 steps to the perfect export plan

1. review your export potential.

You should take some time to consider the realities of exporting and their implications for all aspects of your business, and to be aware of any assistance you may need. You’ll find lots of useful information on the country and sector pages of the UKTI site. If you’ve not done so already, get yourself started by reading the UKTI’s advice for first time exporters .

2. Develop an action plan

Exporting is a process which needs to be planned. Clear and focused objectives are needed, and exporters need to be realistic as to what can be achieved within a given timescale. UKTI, through its international trade teams  can provide help to companies to develop a tailored action plan which sets out a workable strategy for developing into international trade with regular reviews to ensure it is on track. This is a core part of the Passport to Export service offering.

3. Research and prepare to visit the market

Researching markets is essential to help reduce risk and improve chance of success. This is usually a combination of desk and field research. Each business and each market is unique. UKTI’s aim is to help you, through research and advice, make those initial approaches into new markets. UKTI offers two key research and contact services: Overseas Market Introduction Service [OMIS] and Export Markets Research Scheme [EMRS].

Bespoke export training on Passport to Export also assists companies with professional approaches and techniques for market selection, taking into account questions such as:

  • How ‘easy’ is the market?
  • What is demand likely to be?
  • What criteria are important to you?
  • What are your objectives?

…and ease/demand considerations (see diagram).

Taking part in overseas events, trade fairs or missions is an effective way to do some field research to test markets, attract customers, appoint agents or distributors and make sales.

UKTI helps groups of UK companies to attend tradeshows and missions worldwide.

Read more about UKTI’s Tradeshow Access Programme and Market Visit Support Service

UKTI’s website offers access to detailed country guidance, including “Doing Business in…” guides. Additionally, you should consider reading its FCO country updates assessments of business-relevant political and economic issues in key markets, and its Overseas Business Risk service provides declassified strategic information on business security related issues.

4. Explore routes to market entry

Choosing a sales presence in an overseas market can be quite complex. There are a number of options:

  • Agent, distributor, internet, license or franchise
  • Direct sales to retail, direct business to business sales, joint venture, subsidiary or via UK contacts

However, the suitability of each will depend on your company and products. UKTI, through its Passport to Export training provision and its experts in overseas embassies and consulates , can help you narrow down the options. It can help you with market intelligence on your preferred route, establish whether you need a direct sales operation, or establish whether an agent or distributor is more effective.

Case study: Chokolit’s appointing of a Mexican distributor helped them succeed.

Video: Agents and Distributors – Managing them effectively and resolving disputes.

5. Find out about selling and marketing your product overseas

It is important to consider how to market and sell your product overseas. There are a number of elements that make up the marketing mix to ensure competitiveness, including uniqueness of product, price, location and distribution channel. UKTI and its teams overseas can help to adapt your approach to local conditions and to find answers to the questions you’ll have. Passport to Export training also reviews this topic in some detail with the opportunity to exchange experiences with other participants.

Video: Localising your international websites for foreign target markets.

Video: Social media marketing – using social media to develop and maintain business relationships.

6. Think about cultural and linguistic challenges

If you need help with the linguistic and cultural aspects of doing business overseas, the Export Communications Review [ECR] offers companies a variety of options and advice, including cultural awareness reviews and communications planning.

Video case study: Training company Steps Drama passes on its tips for meeting cultural and linguistic challenges.

7. Prepare to manage finance, payment and risk

Managing international risk is an important part of exporting. There are several categories of risk to take into account. Some of the most important are:

  • Commercial: Non payment, insolvency, contract disputes, overdue payment, IPR, brand, reputation
  • Political: Government change, war, riots, terrorism etc., border disputes, changes in laws
  • Country: Exchange rate, high inflation

For more information on these categories of risk, see these sources:

UKTI’s Overseas Business Risk Service. FCO Country Updates. www.doingbusiness.org. www.transparency.org.

Choosing the most appropriate method of payment and exchange rate is an important decision to manage cash flow. This may depend on the customer, product and market conditions.

Putting in place a secure and efficient method of processing payments should be one of your top priorities when entering the international trade market. To get you off to the right start, Barclays Business Abroad offers you an exclusive 25% discount on all your outgoing and incoming international payments.

8. Prepare to protect your intellectual property

Protecting your intellectual property can be the difference between commercial success and failure. The Intellectual Property Office offers support and advice on all four main forms: patents, trademarks, designs and copyright. Speak to your local UKTI International Trade Team for initial guidance. Read more about how to protect your intellectual property on the Intellectual Property Office site.

Video: Protecting your rights outside the UK.

Video: Registrable intellectual property – patents, designs and trademarks.

9. Prepare to fulfil your orders and get your documentation right

It is important to know at an early stage regulations and legal requirements which must be complied with and trading terms which might apply. If done incorrectly consequences can be significant. Read further information, including training options, on the following sites:

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. British Chambers of Commerce. Institute of Export. UK Trade Tariffs via Business Link.

Video: Export documentation and getting the paperwork right.

10. Choose a distribution method

You need to consider the implications of selling over long distances. The kind of goods you export, the level of demand and the type of costs involved can all dictate your distribution options. The OMIS service offers a wealth of information and you may wish to contact the British International Freight Association (BIFA).

Video: Understanding and using Incoterms.

Video: Exporting outside the EU – Commodity codes and customs procedures.

Read: ‘New to exporting’ overview.

Read: ‘About exporting’ overview. This article was first published by UK Trade and Investment. Read more about how UKTI can help your business export successfully.

Trading Internationally, British Chambers of Commerce. © British Chambers of Commerce. Source: www.britishchambers.org.uk

British International Freight Association. © BIFA 2012. Source: www.bifa.org

Take the next step

  • Subscribe to our Barclays Business Abroad package and you’ll be given access to the workshop Introduction to International Trading – an event that’ll arm you with the knowledge you need to successfully navigate the world of international trade.

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Start » strategy, a complete guide to small business exporting.

Exporting overseas is challenging but rewarding for small businesses.

 Exporting raises challenges for small businesses.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) accounted for $460 billion of the known export value in 2019. Yet, e-commerce skyrocketed in 2020, providing more chances for international sales. Global growth offers many benefits. It could even give a lifeline to small businesses in rural areas.

But selling products globally isn't without risk. It requires research and a plan. Below are answers to the top questions U.S. small business owners ask about exporting. Plus, you'll find an array of resources to help you sell and ship around the world.

What are the benefits of exporting for small businesses?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says, “Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.” International trade helps small businesses access new markets and consumers.

U.S. exporters, on average, grow faster than non-exporting businesses. They also benefit from market diversity. Indeed, investing in foreign markets may reduce dependence on the U.S. economy or any single region.

Exporting goods and services give small businesses several benefits:

  • Expand your customer base: The United States represents only 4% of the world population. Targeting international markets helps companies access the other 96%.
  • Reduce risk to your company: Broad geographic reach insulates small companies during an economic downturn, political unrest or natural disasters.
  • Build resilience: Small businesses that export are “ 8.5% less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies.”
  • Increase profits: Exporting is a crucial part of any company's growth strategy. It boosts revenue and creates jobs.
  • Extend product life cycles: Companies time product rollouts to increase their life cycles—launch, growth, maturity and decline.
  • Decrease production costs: Growing businesses order higher quantities of materials and supplies, leading to cost reductions.

Are there risks when exporting internationally?

Global expansion isn't without its challenges. Regulations, freight networks and other factors expose small business owners to risk. Moreover, tariffs and logistics delays worry entrepreneurs. Other barriers encountered by small businesses include:

  • Developing a tech stack that supports customers and payments across the world.
  • Adjusting to cultural differences and language barriers.
  • Securing financing for exporting worldwide.
  • Estimating transportation and shipping costs.
  • Navigating problems with global freight networks.
  • Adhering to local and international laws.
  • Complying with trade agreements and regulations.
  • Finding foreign partners to address local commerce issues.
  • Learning how to advertise and market internationally .
  • Staying abreast of international disruptions.
  • Understanding individual markets and demographics.

What goods or services should I export?

Many countries allow U.S. small businesses to export most goods and services. But there are exceptions. Certain regions may limit or prohibit sales. Others aren't financially workable. However, almost “40% of the known export value of SME exporters” stems from merchant wholesalers selling durable and nondurable goods, according to the U.S. Census Bureau .

Before choosing products to export:

  • Read through U.S. business export regulations on the International Trade Administration's (ITA) site. Doing so will give you an idea of the rules and methods involved.
  • Contact the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security to see if your small business needs an export license.
  • Learn about your intellectual property (IP) rights when exporting to foreign countries on STOPfakes.gov .
  • Perform international market research at Export.gov to determine market viability.
  • Use the SBA’s Trade Tools for International Sales to develop an export plan, including product selection.

What country or countries should I export to?

Certain areas have greater trade or market-related barriers, and picking the right market can make the difference between exporting success or failure. An estimated 45% of American SMEs do business in 11 or more countries. Nearly 13% export to six to 10 and just over 19% sell goods and services in two to five countries.

Start your search by using the U.S. Census Bureau's interactive Global Market Finder . Next, explore the ITA's Country Commercial Guides . Here, you can learn about business customs and market conditions.

Often, small businesses begin with international markets covered under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). There are 14 FTAs comprising 20 countries, including Australia, Mexico, Canada and Singapore. Exporting to countries that fall under U.S. trade agreements may reduce business export barriers and costs. Accordingly, in 2019, 43% of U.S. exports went to Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Once you put in the work, nearly any small business can be competitive overseas.

How can a small business reach foreign consumers?

Pre-pandemic, "average monthly online sales represented 37% of total revenue," according to American Express . By February 2021, this number rose to 57%. Thanks to the internet, a U.S. small business has many ways to connect with people worldwide. Large marketplaces, such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon, also offer U.S. trade opportunities.

Increase export sales by using free and low-cost services, such as:

  • The Single Company Promotion (SCP): The SCP helps U.S.-based small businesses increase brand awareness through a promotional event.
  • Think with Google: Use Google’s free tool to discover potential markets and get tailored recommendations.
  • Trade specialist: Find your local U.S. Commercial Service office or U.S. Export Assistance Center for help selling online to overseas customers.
  • Website Globalization Review (WGR): Use the WGR Gap Analysis service to assess your e-commerce channels and improve search engine optimization (SEO).
  • State Trade Expansion Program (STEP): Leverage STEP to access website assistance, design marketing campaigns and explore foreign trade shows.

Can small- and medium-sized companies get export financing?

U.S. banks are wary about lending to exporters, but the Small Business Association offers several export loan programs . Your local SBA Export Finance Manager or the SBA's Office of International Trade can go over your options and help you take advantage of resources, which may include:

  • Export Express loans, which may be approved in about 36 hours for up to $500,000.
  • Export Working Capital loans, which take roughly five to 10 days for up to $5 million.
  • International Trade Loans, which provide access to up to $5 million for fixed assets, working capital financing and debt refinancing.

How will I ship my product overseas?

Shipping and logistics can be simple for some entrepreneurs. The U.S. Postal Service or third-party shippers such as DHL or FedEx provide shipping tools and resources. But certain exporters may need extra support.

Federal agencies provide information about the international shipping process. Details may include shipping options, export documentation protocols and insurance. Since shipping costs can eat away at your profits, small businesses should compare figures and price products accordingly.

Can a small business be competitive overseas?

Once you put in the work, nearly any small business can be competitive overseas. However, success depends on your strategy and market choice. Furthermore, picking the right mix of technologies is essential.

An estimated 66% of small business owners believe technology can help subdue the top three barriers to exporting, according to a report by Google and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Digital tools assist with:

  • Communications challenges.
  • Finance and payment collection.
  • Tariffs and customs issues.

Sell your product and service around the world

International trade could be the key to overcoming challenges in today's economy. Moreover, it could help small businesses that live outside major cities. In fact, exports increased 5.6% during the first quarter of 2021. Almost 98% of exporters are small- to medium-sized companies, so selling goods and services worldwide is an excellent way to create a sustainable business model.

Take advantage of support from your local SBA office and invest in digital technology to access international consumers and markets.

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A Comprehensive Guide: How to Create a Business Plan for Importing or Exporting Goods

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

Creating a well-structured business plan is essential for success in the import/export industry. Whether you are looking to import goods from overseas or export products to international markets, a carefully crafted business plan will serve as your roadmap and provide a solid foundation for your venture. In this article, we will walk you through the key steps and components to consider when developing a business plan for importing or exporting goods.

  • Executive Summary: Start your business plan with a concise executive summary that provides an overview of your import/export venture. Clearly define your business goals, target market, competitive advantage, and a brief description of the products or services you intend to import or export.
  • Market Analysis: Conduct a thorough market analysis to identify the demand for your products or services in the target market. Understand market trends, customer preferences, competition, and regulatory requirements. Analyze potential risks and opportunities, and showcase your understanding of the market dynamics.
  • Product Selection and Sourcing: Define the specific products or services you plan to import or export. Research potential suppliers or manufacturers and evaluate their reliability, quality standards, pricing, and delivery capabilities. Outline your sourcing strategy and any exclusivity agreements or partnerships you may have.
  • Competitive Analysis: Assess the competitive landscape in your target market. Identify direct and indirect competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, pricing strategies, distribution channels, and market positioning. Highlight how your unique selling proposition (USP) sets you apart from competitors and positions your business for success.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: Develop a comprehensive marketing and sales strategy to reach your target customers effectively. Define your target audience, channels of distribution, pricing strategy, and promotional activities. Outline your sales forecast and customer acquisition plans, including any partnerships or collaborations that can help expand your reach.
  • Operational Plan: Detail the operational aspects of your import/export business. Outline your supply chain management strategy, including transportation, logistics, and warehousing. Discuss any required licenses, permits, or certifications necessary for import/export operations. Provide insights into your order fulfillment process, quality control measures, and customer service strategy.
  • Financial Projections: Create a detailed financial projection for your import/export business. Include revenue forecasts, cost analysis, pricing strategies, and projected profitability. Outline your startup costs, working capital requirements, and potential funding sources. Discuss your financial strategies, such as pricing structures, payment terms, and risk management techniques.
  • Risk Assessment and Contingency Plans: Identify potential risks and challenges associated with importing or exporting goods. Develop contingency plans to mitigate risks, such as currency fluctuations, regulatory changes, supply chain disruptions, or geopolitical factors. Demonstrate your ability to adapt and navigate uncertainties in the international trade landscape.
  • Implementation Timeline: Create a realistic timeline for the implementation of your import/export business plan. Break down the key milestones, activities, and deadlines necessary to launch and grow your venture. Include specific action plans for product sourcing, market entry, marketing campaigns, and operational setup.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Establish mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the progress of your import/export business. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your business’s performance against the set goals. Regularly review and update your business plan based on market feedback, industry trends, and internal analysis.

Conclusion: Crafting a comprehensive business plan is vital for importing or exporting goods successfully. By following the steps outlined above and addressing key components such as market analysis, product selection, marketing strategy, financial projections, and risk assessment, you can create a robust roadmap for your import/export business. A well-designed business plan will guide your decision-making process, attract potential investors or partners, and set the stage for a thriving venture in the global trade.

Language selection

Step-by-step guide to exporting – step 3 – charting your route: developing your export plan.

  • Previous: Step 2 Globalization: linking to global value chains
  • List of steps
  • Next: Step 4 Setting out: identifying your target market

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

It is critical to understand your target market abroad and the major focus of your business before you enter the international marketplace. Export Award Winner

Contact your industry association to find names of successful exporters who can provide you with practical advice.  BDC  and the Canada Business Network are two sources for advice.

Table of contents

3.1 why plan, 3.2 foundation: your business plan, 3.3 building on the foundation: your export plan.

If you plan your export project thoroughly, you'll have a better chance of doing well in your target market. Bad planning (or no planning) can lead to major failure abroad and could severely damage your domestic operations as well.

Financial institutions and other lending agencies will not normally provide funds to a business that lacks a well-developed export plan. In addition, potential partners and investors will want to see exactly how you plan to achieve your objectives.

In short, you'll get nowhere without an export plan. This chapter will help you create one.

Export myth: Exporting is too complicated for my company to undertake

Remember, you don't have to do everything yourself. Outside experts can represent you, find overseas customers, manage sales orders, handle paperwork and deliver the goods.

A good export plan begins at home. Now is the time to review and renew your business plan if it is out of date. If you don't have one, this is definitely the time to create one.

Once you've polished up your business plan, you can start creating your export plan. This step isn't something you'll finish in a week. Even after you've begun exporting, you'll need to update it regularly.

An export plan is a business plan that focuses on international markets. It identifies your target market(s), export goals, necessary resources and anticipated results.

Your export plan should contain the following:

  • business history
  • vision and mission statements
  • purpose of the export plan
  • organizational goals and objectives
  • international market goals
  • short- and medium-term objectives for exporting
  • location and facilities
  • level of commitment by senior management
  • relationship between exporting and domestic operations
  • corporate experience and expertise in exporting
  • strategic alliances
  • labour market issues abroad
  • description of products and services
  • key and/or unique features that distinguish your product/services from those in the target market adaptation and redesign required for exporting
  • production of products and services
  • future products/services pipeline
  • comparative advantage in production
  • political environment
  • economic environment
  • size of market
  • key market segments
  • purchasing process and buying criteria
  • description of industry participants
  • market share held by imports
  • tariff and non-tariff barriers
  • industry trends and other market factors
  • market outlook
  • target market(s)
  • description of key competitors
  • analysis of competitive position
  • product positioning
  • pricing strategy
  • terms of sale
  • distribution strategy
  • promotion strategy / development of sales leads
  • description of intermediaries and partners
  • intellectual property protection
  • other regulatory issues
  • modes of transportation and cargo insurance
  • trade documentation
  • use of trade service providers
  • market risks
  • credit and currency risks
  • political and other risks
  • key activities
  • evaluation criteria and process
  • revenues or sources of funding
  • operating budget
  • cost of sales
  • marketing and promotion costs
  • other expenses or expenditures

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How to Start an Import Export Business in 9 Easy Steps

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Free How to Write an Import Export Business Plan + Free Template Template

Matthew Khalili

16 Min Read

start an import export business

The import and export game in the U.S. is skyrocketing! Government numbers tell us that in just December 2021, imports and exports jumped by a whopping $7 billion each. Americans are craving new and exciting products from all corners of the globe.

So, starting an import/export business might be a gold mine waiting to be discovered. But before you jump in, let’s unpack different types of “import” and “export” businesses, how to get your international business started in the USA, and if it’s really the profitable venture you imagine.

Types of Import Export Businesses

Importers and exporters” – that’s the primary cast of characters in the international market trade. There are more exciting players, each with their role in global trade. Let’s meet the crew:

Import Export Merchants

These independent people don’t stick to just one product or market. They either make or buy products and then sell them to other countries. This way of doing business can be risky, but you might earn more money.

Export Trading Company (ETC)

This is like being a go-between or a distributor. Instead of making their products, ETCs find foreign buyers for goods and then look for someone in their home country to send these goods abroad. Sometimes, they might even own the goods they’re exporting and make money through commission.

Export Management Company (EMC)

An EMC manages all the export stuff for a company. If a company in your country wants to sell its products in other countries, an EMC will take care of everything needed to make that happen. This includes finding people to sell the products, creating ads, and arranging for the products to be shipped.

Now that you’ve learned about the various types of business, let’s explore how to start an import export business in nine easy steps.

Steps to starting an Import-export business

  • Identify products to import or export
  • Explore shipping options
  • Source your suppliers
  • Write an Import-export business plan
  • Register your business
  • Obtain necessary licenses & permits
  • Figure out financing
  • Get a business insurance
  • Market your business

1. Identify products to import or export

Starting a successful import-export business means determining what products or services you want to trade.

You need to look into different items and industries to find out what’s in demand worldwide and see if importing or exporting them is practical.

Here’s how you can find out:

Learn What Customers Want

You can ask people directly through surveys or group discussions. Look at what’s selling well in foreign markets by checking sales data and market reports. Also, watch social media and import-export industry websites to stay updated on trends and what people like.

Doing this makes you more likely to sell products that people will want to buy.

Is the Product a Good Fit? After conducting market research, consider whether your export products will work well. This means looking at things like how much they’ll cost to make and send, how unique they are, and how much people need or want them.

Check Out Your Competitors

You need to know what your competitors are offering to pick the right products.

  • Look at their prices and what their customers are saying. Websites like Alibaba can give you a good idea of global prices.
  • Watch their ads and marketing to see how they’re selling their products.

Learning from your competitors can show you what might work or not in your target markets, helping you choose profitable products.

Costs and Profits

Consider the costs of making and shipping your products, including extra expenses like taxes. Then, think about how much profit you could make. A simple way to compare costs and profits is to use a spreadsheet.

Rules for Your Products

Before you start exporting or importing, know the rules for the products you want to send. This includes safety certifications, what needs to be on labels, and any export restrictions.

Different countries have different requirements for things like safety and environmental impact. Know these rules for the countries you’re targeting.

How you label and package your products can also vary by country. Ensure you know things like language requirements and what information must be on the label.

Now that you know your product, it’s time to make sure it will make money. You can look at the following studies:

  • GlobalEdge’s Market Potential Index (MPI): This study by Michigan State University has been done since 1996. It looks at how good different countries are for business each year and ranks them from 1 to 100.
  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) : This group helps trade and teaches businesses how to do things better.
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade : This is the official place for U.S. export and import numbers. They also make sure exports follow the rules.
  • Local Government Officials and Websites: You can also talk to local Commerce Departments for insights on what products and services are popular or needed in your area.

2. Explore shipping options

This step can be complex because there’s a lot to think about. You must decide how to ship your products – by land, sea, or air. You also have to figure out the right way to package them for shipping.

Plus, you need to plan how to store them so they’re easy to get to and arrange transport to and from places.

It’s usually a smart move to hire a global freight forwarder for any import/export business. They act like a shipping agent, taking a big load off your shoulders.

You tell them about your business and what you want to do with your products, and they handle the shipping plans, insurance, and often the paperwork like licenses, permits, taxes, and limits for trading in another country. This can make starting an import/export business much less stressful.

3. Source your suppliers

Once you’ve chosen a product to trade internationally, your next step is to find a local maker or supplier who can work well with you. Here’s how to do it:

Start by searching on Google for suppliers or makers of the product you’re interested in. If you want to buy from local sources, look for local wholesalers and distributors.

Remember, buying directly from foreign manufacturers or their agents usually gives you better prices than local sources. Once you find a supplier’s website, go to their “Contact Us” page and send them your questions.

Online Marketplaces

Many online marketplaces can help you find suppliers. One of the biggest is Alibaba, which is based in China and is great for finding Asian products. Global Sources, D.H. Gate, and All.Biz are also well-known if you’re looking for other options.

Use Import/Export Port Data

Look for suppliers and makers by getting import/export data from companies that sell this information. Companies like IHS Piers gather data from ports worldwide and sell it.

This data might not have direct contact info, so you should look up suppliers on Google.

Visit Trade Shows

Despite the shift to online business, meeting suppliers and seeing the products yourself can be valuable.

Trade shows are great for this, especially for high-tech or expensive products. Meeting sellers in person can build trust and add much to your business relationship.

4. Write an Import-export business plan

An Import-export business plan lets you understand the facts, limits, and goals of selling internationally. You can use it to set clear targets, plan when to do things, and track your progress. It can also help your team stay focused on reaching these goals.

A written plan outlines the steps you must take to commit to exporting. Without a plan, you might miss opportunities to grow your business beyond your country.

Usually, a business plan has parts like:

  • A quick summary
  • Info about your company
  • Market Research
  • Details about your products or services
  • How you’ll market and sell
  • Predictions for money coming in and going out
  • Funding Request

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prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

5. Register your business

After deciding on your product and suppliers, it’s time to make your import-export business official!

Here’s how you can do that:

Step 1: business registration:

Think of this as getting your official passport for your global target market. It makes your business legit and separate from you personally, which is suitable for legal purposes and taxes.

Most small import-export companies in the U.S. need to head to their state or local government office and tell them:

  • Your business name
  • Where your international trade H.Q. is located
  • Who’s in charge (you, your partner, or your LLC crew)
  • Your unique “Doing Business As” name, if you have one

Step 2: Pick your team structure:

Do you want to start your import export business solo, grab a partner, or have whole LLC members? This choice affects your taxes, money, and paperwork. Conduct market research and find what fits your goals best.

Step 3: Get your I.D. numbers:

  • CIN: This is like your international trade license. It lets the Department of Commerce track your trades across borders. You can quickly get it on their website.
  • EIN: This is your business tax I.D., like a social security number for your company. Get it online, by mail, or fax from the IRS.

If you want to bring products from other countries into the U.S., you must register with Customs and Border Protection. This makes you an Importer of Record (IOR) .

As an IOR, you ensure all the import rules for your products are followed. This includes filling out customs forms, paying duties and tariffs, and other tasks.

To be an IOR, you must fill out the Importer Identity Form, also known as CBP Form 5106.

6. Obtain necessary licenses & permits

Licenses and permits are the gatekeepers of the import/export world. The good news is most products in the U.S. don’t need them!

Here’s what you need to know about these licenses:

Importing Licenses

CBP doesn’t have a complete list of “import license needed” items, but they have some guidelines . Some special items do need licenses, which include:

  • Dairy products
  • Radioactive materials
  • Wildlife and pets
  • Biological Drugs
  • Biological Materials and Vectors

If you’re importing one of these, double-check with CBP before your shipment gets stuck at the border.

Exporting Licenses

It’s your job to determine if your item needs a license to leave the country—usually, the Bureau of Industry and Security or the U.S. Department of State handles these permits.

So, how do you know if you need a license?

Four things matter:

  • The item itself
  • Where it’s going
  • What is it used for
  • Who’s getting it

In this case, the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) is your handbook for export licenses. Think of it like a map showing which items need permission to leave. It lists stuff under the Commerce Control List (CCL) in 10 categories, like nuclear materials, chemicals, computers, and airplanes.

However, not everything on the CCL needs a license. If your item isn’t listed, it’s probably EAR99 – mostly license-free. But be careful; some EAR99 products still need permission.

You can also find out if your product needs an export license by looking at its Export Control Classification Number (ECCN).

Here are three ways to find the ECCN

  • Check it yourself using the CCL
  • Ask your supplier
  • Request it from the Bureau of Industry and Security.

7. Figure out financing

Starting an import/export business is exciting, but it takes some real money to get going. The good news? You can start small, even from home, without much inventory or employees. Starting an export-import business from your house would cost around $5000 to $25000.

But if your import export business takes off and you need more fuel, here are some options:

Export-Import Bank: They help American import export businesses like yours by offering loans, guarantees, and insurance.

SBA Export Loan Programs : The Small Business Administration has special programs to help you develop and grow your exports. They offer loans for different stages, from starting up to expanding.

Here are three loans that they offer:

  • Export Express Program: Up to $500,000 for inventory, receivables, and development activities.
  • International Trade Loan Program: Grow or expand your exports or fight against import competition.
  • Export Working Capital Program: Get working capital for production, receivables, inventory, or even standby letters of credit.
  • Import/Export Line of Credit: This is a flexible credit card for your import/export needs, helping you manage cash flow and pay suppliers or customers over time.
  • Ex-Im Working Capital Guarantee Program: Need help before you even start exporting? This program can secure financing for things like raw materials and equipment for your export goods.

8. Get a business insurance

Shipping products across borders can be risky! But fear not; import-export business insurance is here to save the day. It’s like a superhero cape for your goods, protecting them from financial harm.

Here’s what you need to know:

Export Credit Insurance: Worried buyers won’t pay? This covers you if they skip out, reimbursing 80-90% of the loss.

Marine Insurance: Covers your goods from the moment they leave the supplier until they reach your buyer, no matter where they travel (not just the ocean!).

Political Risk Insurance: If you’re doing import export business in shaky countries, this insurance shields you from government seizures, payment delays, and even wars or riots.

International Product Liability: Even if you do your market research, sometimes goods get rejected at customs. This covers you if regulations change or your product doesn’t meet the mark.

Remember, research and preparation are essential, even with insurance. But with these options in your arsenal, you can trade internationally with more confidence and peace of mind!

9. Market your import export business

In your job as an international trader, your main goal is to sell yourself, your company, and the products you offer. You have to get companies to trust you to sell their products in foreign countries (export) or to bring in products from abroad to sell here (import).

The better you do in either exporting or importing, the easier it gets to do well in the other. Say you help a company sell many products in overseas markets; you can show that success to other companies to get more business.

Many import-export businesses don’t export or import, even though it could earn them more money. Your job is to find these companies and persuade them to let you help them sell abroad.

Before you reach out to a company, do your homework:

  • Find out what products are hot in the U.S. Think about stuff you use or things certain groups love.
  • Are these products also wanted in your target market countries?
  • If they’re not popular, could they be if people knew about them?
  • Who makes these products?
  • How much does selling them, both here and in the target countries, cost?

Using this info, you can contact companies with your sales pitch through direct-mail campaigns.

Direct-Mail Campaigns

Pick a company that makes one of the products you’ve looked into. Find the right person to talk to, like their president or sales manager.

Your letter should explain:

  • Who you are and what your company does.
  • How exporting or importing could benefit them.
  • Why is your company the best choice for this?

You have contacts with foreign distributors ready to sell their products.

Finish the letter by asking for a meeting. Keep sending out letters to other companies until you’ve covered your list.

Wait a week or two, then follow up with a phone call to request a meeting.

Cold-calling

You can also try calling companies directly. It might save money, but it’s tougher to nail.

Before you call, plan out what you want to say. You can even write a script but don’t stick to it too rigidly.

Be ready for rejections. It’s all part of the job.

Build an SEO-friendly website

Imagine this: someone searches for your products, and your website appears first. That’s what SEO can do. Make your website more accessible, and you’ll attract more customers.

Social media accounts

Use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They’re great for connecting with potential customers, showing off your products, and building trust.

You can post interesting stuff, answer questions, and join industry chats. People will start seeing you as the expert.

Work with local pros

Team up with local agents in the countries you’re targeting. They know the local scene, language, and rules, helping you avoid mistakes.

Let your happy customers speak for you

Satisfied customers are like free salespeople. Ask them for referrals and testimonials, and put these on your website and social media.

The import export business brings products from one place to another, meets people’s desires, and makes money. Have you ever wondered how to get stuff that’s made far away? Or how do you share something cool with people in other countries while ensuring it’s suitable for everyone involved, from the makers to the transporters?

If you’re thinking about this, don’t worry about how big the task seems. With the proper research, a solid import-export business plan, and paperwork, you can start your own import-export business and make it work.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is the import-export business profitable.

Like any business, making money in import-export depends on a few things. Your prices, how much it costs to make and ship products, and how big you can grow your business all matter for your profits.

People starting in import-export often make around $80,000 . If things go well, you might make hundreds of thousands; a few people even make millions.

How Much Should You Charge for Imports and Exports?

Your prices will depend on what you’re selling and the costs of making and shipping them. A standard pricing strategy is to add 10 to 15 percent to your costs.

How to Get an Import-Export License?

After making a business plan, check if you need any import-export licenses.

Most products coming into the U.S. don’t need an import export license. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has guidelines for what requires a permit.

What Does It Cost to Start an Import-Export Business from Home?

Startup costs can vary. Usually, you spend between $5,000 – $7,000. Here’s a rough breakdown:

  • Registering an import export business costs around $300 and can vary by state.
  • Setting up phone, internet, and a website: Plan for ongoing costs of about $250-300.
  • Buying your first products: Expect to use 17% – 25% of your budget.

What's the Best Business for Import-Export?

Based on U.S. Census Bureau data , the top imports in 2020-21 were:

  • Computers and electronics
  • Transportation equipment
  • Non-electrical machinery
  • Electrical equipment and appliances

The top exports were:

  • Oil and gas

About the Author

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

Matthew Khalili is an experienced business planning expert and the founder of The Plan Writers. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has helped numerous entrepreneurs in creating investor-ready pitch decks and business plans. Matt has enabled 5000+ startups to raise over $1 billion through his business plan, market research, and financial modeling services. Read more

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Top 10 Export Business Plan Templates with Examples and Samples (Editable Word Doc, Excel and PDF Included)

Top 10 Export Business Plan Templates with Examples and Samples (Editable Word Doc, Excel and PDF Included)

Samradni Pradhan

author-user

Export business is pivotal in a country's economic growth and stability. It offers numerous advantages, including job creation, foreign exchange earnings, economic diversification, and global market exposure.

Success in the export business, however, is not guaranteed. It requires a well-thought-out business plan considering market research, logistics, regulatory compliance, and financial management. We offer comprehensive and customizable export business plan templates to assist entrepreneurs in this endeavor.

The business plan ppt templates provide a structured framework for outlining your business goals, strategies, and financial projections, ensuring a smooth path to export success. With the right plan and these templates, you can capitalize on the immense opportunities the global market offers and contribute to your country's economic global market development.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Overview
  • Industry Analysis
  • Customer Analysis
  • Competitor Landscape
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Porter's Framework
  • Operational Plan
  • Financial Plan

Our business plan template bundles are crafted with precision, keeping in mind all of the nitty-gritty of the export business. These templates use the best graphics to ensure your business idea shines through. When you download this business plan template, you will get access to a 65-page template document. These are completely editable as per your needs and requirements. However, for the ease of this blog, we will only highlight the top 10 templates from this entire deck.

1. Executive Summary

This is the initial section of your export business plan, serving as a concise roadmap for the reader. It should encapsulate the essential aspects of your export strategy, including identifying target markets, primary objectives, a summary of key strategies, and a brief overview of financial projections and timelines. This summary sets the stage for the entire plan, looking at what the audience can expect to find in more detail further in the document.

In our Executive Summary section, you will get templates for

1.1 The Quick Pitch: A concise and compelling overview of your export business, capturing its essence and potential in a few sentences.

1.2 The Entity: Describing your business's legal structure and core identity, ensuring clarity regarding its nature and organization for international trade .

1.3 Company Overview: Offering a comprehensive introduction to your cross-border commerce , including its history, mission, and the core values that drive your international endeavors.

1.4 Products and Services: Detailing the range of export products and services you offer, emphasizing their unique features and how they meet the needs of international customers.

Executive Summary

Download this business plan

(Do you have a trading business and wish to scale it up? We have a suitable template for a multinational trading business plan; you can download it here )

2. Company Overview

The company overview delves into the core aspects of your business. It provides information about your company's history, experience in international trade, certifications (such as ISO standards or export-related qualifications), and financial stability. This section aims to build confidence in your company's ability to operate successfully in the export market, demonstrating your credibility as an export partner.

In our Company Overview section, you will get templates for

2.1 Mission and Vision: Your export business's overarching purpose and long-term aspirations define your commitment to international success.

2.2 Goals and Objectives: The specific targets and milestones that steer your import-export business towards accomplishment in global markets.

2.3 Start-up Summary: A concise outline of the initial financial and operational aspects required to launch and establish your export operations.

2.4 Market Gap and Solution: Identifying a void in international markets and how your products or services provide a solution, ensuring a clear value proposition.

2.5 Product and Services Offered: Detailing the range of products and services of your export business offers, emphasizing their uniqueness and relevance in global markets.

2.6 Key Success Factors: The critical elements that underpin your export business's success, serving as the foundation for sustainable growth in foreign trade .

Company Overview

(Looking for something more generic that caters to international business ? Well, you are in luck! We have a business plan template that caters to international business !)

3. Industry Analysis

The industry analysis explores the global market where you intend to export your products or services. It should examine market trends, regulatory environments, and trade policies affecting your industry. This analysis helps you identify potential growth areas, challenges, and opportunities that can improve your import strategy.

In our Industry Analysis section, you will get templates for

3.1 Market Analysis: A comprehensive examination of international markets to identify opportunities and assess the export potential of your products.

3.2 Market Trends: Tracking global trade dynamics and consumer behavior shifts ensures your export strategies align with current and future market trends.

3.3 Major Challenges: Identifying the key hurdles and obstacles your export business may encounter in international markets and formulating strategies to overcome them.

3.4 Growth Drivers: Recognizing the factors that stimulate expansion and success in global markets, leveraging them to propel your export venture forward.

3.5 Geographical Analysis: Examining specific regions and countries to determine the most promising export destinations, tailoring your approach to each market's unique demands and opportunities.

Industry Analysis

(Is your business strategy driven? You need a template that focuses on the target market and global expansion. Get the best of both through this template )

4. Customer Analysis

In the customer analysis section, you must define and understand your target international customers. This involves delving into their demographics, preferences, behaviors, and cultural factors that may impact their purchasing decisions. A thorough customer analysis will guide you in tailoring your products, services, and marketing approaches to align with the needs and expectations of your global clientele.

In our Customer Analysis section, we offer comprehensive templates for:

4.1 Target Market: Defining the specific countries or regions where your export business aims to sell products, narrowing down the global focus.

4.2 Buyer Persona: Creating a detailed profile of the ideal international customer, understanding their needs and preferences to tailor export strategies better.

4.3 Market Sizing: Assessing the potential of the export market by determining its size in terms of customers, demand, and revenue, providing a clear understanding of the export opportunity.

Customer Analysis

5. Competitor Analysis

Analyzing the competitive landscape in your target markets is crucial for developing effective export strategies. This section should identify key competitors in the international market, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and provide insights into their market share. Understanding the competitive dynamics will help you position your products or services effectively and gain a competitive advantage.

In our Competitive Landscape section, we provide templates for:

5.1 Major Players: Identifying and analyzing key competitors and influential entities in the international market who impact your business.

5.2 Attributes Comparison: Evaluate the specific characteristics and features of your export products or services compared to those offered by competitors to determine your unique selling points and competitive advantages.

Competitor Analysis

6. SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is considered to be a strategic tool that assesses your export venture's internal strengths and weaknesses, also external opportunities and threats. This analysis provides a holistic perspective of your business and the export environment. By identifying internal advantages and challenges and external market opportunities and threats, you can make informed decisions, create mitigation plans, and better position your company for international success.

SWOT Analysis

7. Porter's Framework

Porter's Five Forces framework is considered an excellent tool for analyzing the competitive forces within your industry. It examines the power of suppliers, the bargaining of buyers, the threat of new brands and substitutes, and the intensity of competitive rivalry. This analysis helps you understand the competitive dynamics of the export market, identify potential challenges, and develop strategies to address them effectively. You can make informed decisions about market entry and competition mitigation strategies using Porter's framework.

Porter's five forces framework

8. Marketing Plan

The marketing plan in an export business outlines the strategies for promoting and selling your products or services in international markets. It should include details about your international marketing mix, pricing strategies, distribution channels, and promotional efforts. A robust marketing plan is essential for gaining market share and building brand recognition in your target export markets.

In our Marketing Plan section, we provide templates for:

8.1 Sales and Distribution Strategy: Outlining the plan for leveraging international sales and distribution platforms to enhance brand visibility and engage with international customers in the export market.

8.2 Promotional Strategy: A comprehensive plan designed to increase brand visibility, engage international audiences, and drive sales in the global export market.

8.3 Pricing Strategy: Defining the approach for setting competitive and profitable prices for your export products or services, considering international market dynamics and customer expectations.

8.4 Sales Funnel: Describing the step-by-step process that international customers go through, from initial awareness to purchasing, facilitating efficient lead conversion in your export business.

Marketing Plan

9. Operational Plan

The operational plan defines how your company will execute its export strategy. This section should cover logistics, production, supply chain management, quality control, and international regulations and standards compliance. It's essential to provide a clear and organized operational plan to ensure a smooth flow of goods or services to your international customers.

In our Operational Plan section, we provide templates for:

9.1 Business Model: The blueprint of your export enterprise, elucidating how you create, deliver, and capture value in international markets, ensuring a clear understanding of your global trade approach.

9.2 Goals to be achieved: The specific, measurable objectives guiding your export business, ensuring a defined path to international success and a framework for tracking your progress.

Operational Plan

10. Financial Plan

The financial plan is a critical section of the export business plan, detailing the expected costs, revenue projections, and financial forecasts related to your international expansion. It should include budgets, cash flow statements, break-even analysis, and return on investment calculations. This information helps stakeholders, including investors and lenders, understand your export business's financial viability and sustainability.

In our Financial Plan section, we provide templates for:

10.1 Financial Assumptions: Highlighting the critical assumptions underpinning the export venture's financial projections.

10.2 Revenue Model and Sales Forecast: Defining the approach for generating revenue from international markets and providing a sales forecast for export operations.

10.3 Break-Even Analysis: Identifying the point at which export revenues cover costs, indicating when the business becomes profitable.

10.4 Projected Profit and Loss Account: Summarizing expected revenues, expenses, and profitability for the export business over a specified period.

10.5 Projected Cash Flow Statement: Outlining the expected cash inflows and outflows related to export activities, ensuring cash liquidity for international operations.

10.6 Projected Balance Sheet: Present a snapshot of the export business's financial position, including assets, liabilities, and equity, specific to international trade.

10.7 Scenario Analysis: Assessing various scenarios to understand the impact of various elements on the financial performance of the export business.

10.8 DCF Valuation: Applying the Discounted Cash Flow process to determine the present value of future cash flows, assisting in the valuation of the export business in the international market.

Financial Plan

We have so much more to offer

An export business plan considers many elements, and we know you are the expert to manage it all! However, we can only help you with the best base to get started. By downloading these templates, you are not only creating the right start for your business, but also creating a lasting impression for your investors. This 65-pager template deck has everything you will need for your business; what more can you ask for? For easy access and editability, you can download the PowerPoint file of this deck from here ! Happy business planning.

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How To Start An Export Business: From Local To Global

Figuring out how to start an export business is essential for motivated individuals that want to begin a new enterprise. Companies like these can earn high revenue streams by selling American-made products to buyers overseas. However, there are many regulatory concerns and market research that must be completed before you can get a company off the ground. 

The U.S. Commercial Service, a government organization that helps U.S. exporters, recommends these steps when starting an export business:

  • Determine your market
  • Learn legal requirements
  • Craft business plan
  • Secure financing
  • Source products
  • Set up logistics network

Following these steps will ensure goods travel abroad without incident. 

Learn how to start an export business with a guide crafted with the expertise of our specialists.

How To Start An Export Business from Home

The idea of taking a business from a local market to the global stage can be both exhilarating and daunting. In today’s interconnected world, starting an export business from the comfort of your home is more feasible than ever. By breaking the process down into simple steps, it’s possible to start shipping goods in no time. 

We’ll break down the steps that you can follow to make this your reality. 

1. Determining Your Market

Determining the right market for an export business is a crucial step that can dictate the success of a company. Fortunately, there are numerous ways aspiring entrepreneurs can find a viable market. 

According to the International Trade Administration , businesses should research the following:

  • Country market conditions
  • Free trade agreements (FTA)
  • Industry research
  • Market intelligence
  • Trade stats
  • Export market ranking
  • Foreign trade remedy actions

Researching country market conditions is essential for exporters. It will help them understand the economic health and consumer behavior in a potential market.  

FTAs between the U.S. and other countries significantly influence the decision-making process for various export businesses. The U.S. has FTA’s with 14 countries as of the writing of this article. These agreements have many benefits, such as reduced or eliminated tariffs, improved intellectual property regulations, and ease of investment rules.

Popular U.S. FTA nations for exports include: 

  • Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA)
  • Central America — Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)
  • Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUFTA)
  • Israel Free Trade Agreement (ILFTA)
  • Chile Free Trade Agreement (CLFTA)

Conducting industry-specific research can uncover the demand for products and the competitiveness of the sector within a market. This ensures exporters will be able to sell the goods they have. 

Market intelligence requires gathering different types of information and data, such as:

  • Competitors
  • Overall market conditions

Armed with this information, businesses can set up timely updates about opportunities and conditions in certain markets. 

Trade statistics offer quantitative insights into the flow of goods and services between countries. With this kind of raw data, business owners can find trends and determine which markets are growing the fastest.

Rankings can provide a starting point for exporters by giving them a better way to compare opportunities in different sectors. Each rank will highlight leading markets and future chances to earn profit. 

Finally, exporters should check which countries have foreign trade remedies. This includes determining if a nation has antidumping and countervailing duties imposed on any incoming products. It may be harder to enter markets in nations that have these in place. 

Learning how to start an export business requires being familiar with laws passed in a courthouse like this one

2. Legal Requirements

Now that a target market has been identified, businesses will need to handle certain legal requirements. The first thing an entrepreneur will have to do is register their business with the government. This can be done by filing for a federal tax ID . 

For most companies, this is all that has to be done to become a legal entity. However, certain businesses may register with the federal government for trademark protection or to obtain a tax-exempt status. 

Next, it’s necessary to determine the legal requirements for selling goods to other countries. While most products don’t need an export license, there are certain items that do. 

To determine if one is needed, business owners will need to consider three government bodies that regulate U.S. exports: 

  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • U.S. State Department
  • U.S. Treasury Department

The U.S. Department of Commerce, through their Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), administers the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR). These rules set export control guidelines for products that have a military or dual military use.

Exporters will need to determine if their items are on the Commerce Control List (CCL). This is done by checking the list and seeing if their product has an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) .  

If an exporter’s goods are on the list and has an ECCN, exporters will need to determine the following:

  • Destination of goods
  • End-use  

ECCN  information will determine if an export license is required or not. The U.S. State Department administers the International Trade in Arms (ITAR) Program. These guidelines apply to exports that are designed, modified, or upgraded for military purposes. 

Businesses that plan to sell these goods to buyers in other countries will need to consult the U.S. Munitions List. This will let exporters determine if ITAR licensing is required. 

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the U.S. Treasury Department has regulations as well. They maintain a denied parties list, which contains individual, organizations, and entities that cannot be sold exported goods.  

Finally, company owners should consult the Consolidated Screening List (CSL). This is a compilation of different screening lists from various federal agencies . The CSL is a list of parties the U.S. government places export restrictions on.    

Learn more about ITAR and EAR compliance in our article on these two important U.S. export laws.  

3. Crafting A Business Plan

The next part of starting an export business is formulating a plan. This will act as a blueprint for a company to follow. Exporters will need to work out a few details to formulate their business plan. 

This includes:

  • Determine product or service
  • Use market research
  • Decide on a pricing strategy
  • Determine how to find buyers

The initial step in the process is selecting an appropriate product or service to export. The goods offered by a business should be in demand from buyers in a foreign country. 

The market research analysis you should have conducted at this point will help. Using it, you can evaluate whether your chosen product(s) should be modified to align with different market regulations and consumer preferences. 

When it comes to building out an effective pricing strategy, a business needs  to strike a balance between covering their costs and offering a competitive price. 

To figure out the right amount to charge, companies should consider:

  • Foreign market objectives
  • Product-related costs
  • Market demand
  • Competition

The last part of formulating an export business plan is buyer acquisition. Companies need customers that will purchase their products to thrive and grow. When just starting out, there are  a few strategies available to find potential buyers. 

This includes: 

  • Attending international trade fairs
  • Engaging with promotion programs
  • Leveraging online marketplaces
  • Joining a sales channel
  • Winning foreign government contracts

Entrepreneurs that find buyers early on will start earning money fast once their business launches. 

4. Financing Your Business

Financing is another important step that goes into starting an export business. Without start-up capital of some kind, options are very limited. Fortunately, company owners can obtain loans from the SBA to help them with this financial support.  

Funding includes:

  • Export Express Program
  • International Trade Loan Program
  • Export Working Capital

The Export Express Loan program provides entrepreneurs with small term loans that will help them develop the export side of their business. Maximum funding can be as high as $500,000, which can be used to buy goods or produce services that a company can export. 

The International Trade Loan Program is used to improve the competitive position of businesses that are engaged in or are preparing to engage in international trade. Funding for this program has a maximum of $5 million that can be used to upgrade tools and facilities. 

Another option available to entrepreneurs is the Export Working Capital Program. This system provides short-term, transaction specific capital loans given to companies that can generate export sales, but need additional support. Funds for this program also have a limit of $5 million. 

Entrepreneurs that don’t want to pursue these loans can seek out financing support from the Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) of the United States. There are two financing options provided by the EXIM Bank.

These include:

  • Limited Recourse Project Finance
  • Structured Financing

Limited Recourse Project Finance is an option that’s great for newly created companies. With this plan, businesses can repay the loan using their future cash-flows. 

Benefits of this program include:

  • Mitigated risk
  • Legitimacy thanks to EXIM involvement
  • Long-term finance assistance

For U.S. exporters, the Structured Finance program can make their bids more competitive on large international projects by providing their buyers with access to long-term financing.

People walking inside of a large mall

5. Source Products 

Sourcing products is the next critical step for entrepreneurs that want to start an export business. Knowing what you want to export and having it readily available are different goals. Company owners will need to identify a manufacturer that can provide the goods they want to sell. 

Fortunately, there are a few resources that entrepreneurs can use, including: 

  • Trade shows
  • Online directories
  • Business network
  • Industry contacts

Regardless of where you find a supplier, they should ensure they have a proven track record and a history of reliability. It’s important to ensure the products meet the quality standards expected by the target market. Exporters can check the quality of goods at a trade show or by requesting samples. 

6. Set Up Logistics Operations

Setting up logistics and operations is the last, though not least, concern that needs to be taken care of when starting an export business. 

There are three elements to this part of export operations: 

  • Product preparation
  • Shipping basics
  • Shipping documents

During product preparation, goods may require alteration to be operable, marketable, or legally compliant. Every country has unique standards, regulations, or certifications that products must adhere by to make entry. For example, goods going to the EU will require the European Conformity (CE) Mark. 

Certain electronic equipment might need alteration to be operable. This could mean swapping out old plugs for new ones that will fit the wall sockets in a foreign country. Correct labels and marks are essential as well. Any words on a label should be in the foreign county’s native language.    

Researching the local customs practiced by a certain nation is a good precaution to take. Certain colors might be associate with darker topics, such as death. Therefore, exporters will want to keep these off their labels. 

Entrepreneurs should also check to ensure their company name and the products they’re selling don’t translate to something completely different in the native language of a foreign nation.       

Now that the necessary preparations have been made, exporters can start focusing on how they will ship their goods. First, they’ll need to consider their transportation options. 

Among these are:

  • International air
  • Ocean freight
  • Truck 

It’s likely that exporters will have to use some combination of these shipping options to deliver goods to their foreign buyers. Numerous carriers are available to provide their services. Connecting with a freight forwarding service is a great way to research your options for international shipping.  

Exporters should also get familiar with Incoterms™ before shipping their goods. These are internationally recognized agreements between buyers and sellers that dictate responsibilities to each party in the shipping process. These agreements can impact how much responsibility an exporter may have over things such as shipping.   

After taking care of transport, entrepreneurs will need to obtain the correct information and documents required for export . 

  • Schedule B number
  • Pro forma invoice
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Certificate of origin
  • Certificate of conformity
  • Air waybill/bill of lading

Some documents will need to be submitted electronically, such as the Automated Export System (AES). Depending on the shipment, a license might be required . Each document is essential for goods to be successfully exported to another country. Therefore, it’s imperative that exporters obtain them all before shipping. 

How Much Does It Cost To Start An Export Business?

Startup costs for an export business can be somewhere between $4,000 and $26,000. Numerous factors will influence the expenses entrepreneurs can incur. 

  • Initial setup costs
  • Market research and planing
  • Product sourcing and inventory
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Logistics and shipping

Registering the business entity might include state and local registration fees. While most export licenses are generally free, there may be certain ones that have a specific expense. Opening an office space and obtaining supplies will also inflict costs on exporters. 

Conducting thorough market research is essential and might include expenses for accessing detailed reports, market analysis tools, or consultancy fees. Entrepreneurs might need professional assistance to put together a comprehensive business plan, which can be costly. 

Initial product procurement can be a significant expense, depending on the nature of the items and the quantities required. Inventory costs include not just the price of goods, but also storage and insurance.

Marketing expenses to promote the products in international markets can vary widely. This might include digital marketing, attending trade shows, or creating promotional materials. Developing a website and maintaining an online presence is also essential in today’s market. This will include web development and hosting costs.

Shipping is a major expense for export businesses. This includes freight charges, insurance, and packaging costs. Exporters will have to consider the costs from duties, taxes, and compliance with shipping regulations before they move their cargo as well. 

Use our article on Schedule B numbers and HS codes to avoid confusion between the two.   

Flags of different nations all flying next to one another

What Are the Best Countries To Export To?

There are many foreign buyers willing to purchase a variety of U.S. goods, which means exporters won’t have much difficulty finding customers. According to the United States Trade Register (USTR), there are five countries that import U.S. products more than other nations around the world. 

  • United Kingdom

While these are great markets to get into, there are other nations that make for great export opportunities. Keep in mind, the U.S. has FTAs with numerous countries. Any of these nations will be good to conduct business in. We’ve listed some data of nations engaged in FTAs with the U.S. and how many goods they purchase. 

Amount of U.S. Goods Exported To FTA Countries (2022)

Provided by the USTR , ITA , and Trading Economics

We’ve excluded Mexico and Canada, as these countries have already been mentioned. That said, the other nations on this list make for great export opportunities. Entrepreneurs will need to research the specific FTAs the U.S. shares with these countries to determine the extent of the agreement. 

Start Your Business with Cargo Export USA In Your Corner

Cargo Export USA can guide you through the startup of your business. The team we have will give you the tools you need to be successful. With our plethora of skills and offerings, your business will be running efficiently. 

Services offered by Cargo Export USA include:

  • Product Classification: Ensuring your products are correctly classified for international shipping.
  • Certificate of Origin: This documentation is essential for many FTAs. It will verify where your goods are from.
  • Export Licensing: Assistance with obtaining the required licenses for your export products.

Starting an export business doesn’t have to be difficult. With the help of Cargo Export USA, your business will be operational and earning money at a rapid pace. 

Let us help you unlock the door to international success. Connect with us through the site or call our team at (866) 301-0635 . 

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Go to homepage business.govt.nz business.govt.nz

Business.govt.nz, create a good export plan.

Exporting can be a great way to tap into bigger markets. It can be exciting and rewarding, but also frustrating and financially risky. You can reduce the risk and uncertainty through market research, planning and getting financial support if needed.

Do as much research as possible before you plan. Think of research as an investment that helps you make more informed decisions, plan better, manage risks better and avoid mistakes.

Create your own export plan

Use our template that we created with NZTE to find detailed resources, guide your thinking, and record your plan.

Choose an overseas market

You may have a country in mind already. Perhaps you have a personal preference, or you know which markets are most promising for your business. Either way, you still need to do your research. 

If you aren’t sure which market to choose, take these steps:

  • Identify what matters most to your business. For example, distance may be important if your products are highly perishable. Being able to employ highly skilled staff may be critical if your company prides itself on excellent after sales service.
  • Exclude markets that are politically unstable or where it may be hard to get profits out. Limit yourself to low-risk countries.
  • Sort the remaining markets against the factors you identified in step 1. 

Explore countries that New Zealand has free trade agreements with. Free trade agreements are arrangements between countries that remove barriers to trade, create opportunities and give businesses more certainty. For example, countries might not impose tariffs, or might streamline processes.

Learn about trade agreements and get help

Free trade agreements in force (external link)  — Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Most successful exporters focus on one market before trying to dominate the world.

Australia is the logical first choice for many New Zealand exporters. It’s a good test market before exporting further away. Australia is close, English-speaking, politically stable, easy to reach and culturally similar. You can export New Zealand-made goods duty-free too, under New Zealand–Australia Closer Economic Relations.

Plan your research

Research takes time. How long depends on what you already know and how much time you have, but don’t be surprised if it takes many months.

Save yourself valuable time and money by prioritising the most important areas and being well prepared. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What information do I need? 
  • Where can I find this information?
  • Why do I need this information? What will I do with it?
  • When do I need this information?
  • What is this information worth in dollar terms?
  • What is the likely cost of not getting this information?

Organise your information

Because research is so valuable and time consuming, make sure you save information safely and back it up. 

Organising information by country is particularly useful. Use one notebook or folder for each country where you do business. Keep information updated, otherwise it will quickly stop being useful. Consider including things like product, advertising and labelling changes. 

Comprehensive information will make your notebook or folder a rich first source of information when you make decisions. It can also be a good way for new staff to learn about the market.

Keep your research somewhere that more than one person can access. That way, you won’t lose it when someone leaves, and others can update it.

Do the research

Do online research, and talk to experts and other exporters. Ask for tips about doing business overseas. Find out how to adapt to local customs and protocols. Learn from others’ mistakes and successes.

Below are the most common types of information you’ll need about your potential market.

About your market 

Find out the opportunities and challenges, eg: 

  • the market size, both in geographical size and dollar value
  • market trends
  • consumer spending patterns
  • income per person (per capita income).

Such figures are important indicators of the market potential for your goods or services.

Don’t just look at country-level figures. Regions can vary significantly, and you may find urban–rural differences too.

What your customers want and how they think

Learn how to grow your business overseas with myNZTE's free tools and guides (external link) — myNZTE

Market insights for exporters (external link) — New Zealand Story

When you’ve decided on a market, sign up for market intelligence reports to keep on top of what’s happening.

Market Intelligence Reports (external link) — Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

About your competition

Knowing your competition well is vital. Visit their sites. Find out what goods and services they offer. How do they market and price those goods and services? Will you need to adapt what you do?

Looking outwards at your market

How to research your market and competitors

About possible partners

If you’re thinking of partnering with another company to manufacture or distribute, research that company carefully first.

Do due diligence

Teaming up with other businesses

About trade and production statistics

Is the market for your type of goods and services growing or shrinking? Examine the trade and manufacturing statistics for your market over time to find out. 

What’s made locally in that market? What’s imported, and from where?

Imports and exports (external link) — StatsNZ

About legal and regulatory requirements

  • what taxes and duties you’ll need to pay
  • what laws and regulations you’ll have to follow. 

Laws and regulations in your potential market can be barriers because they make exporting costly, hard, or both. Barriers created by government policies and regulations often mean you have to:

  • carry out administrative procedures
  • restrict how much you can export 
  • license or label products a certain way
  • store and protect data a certain way
  • appoint certain types of people to your board
  • procure materials a certain way
  • limit the price of your goods or services.

The New Zealand Customs Service and freight forwarders can tell you what different countries require. Your local Chamber of Commerce may also be able to help with export documentation.

Exporting laws

Compliance and logistics 101 (external link)  — myNZTE

Contact chambers of commerce (external link) — New Zealand Chamber Network

Export resources (external link) — New Zealand Customs Service

About intellectual property

Find out how to protect your intellectual property, copyright and trademarks. Protection is especially important in countries that tend not to respect intellectual property.

Protecting your intellectual property overseas

Copyright and trade marks (external link) — New Zealand Customs Service

About culture 

Don’t forget culture. Being sensitive to local customs can make the difference between winning a contract or not. For example, in some cultures, taking a business card without studying it is considered disrespectful.

Find out the cultural and business dos and don’ts in your market, and think about how you’ll overcome cultural or language barriers.

Find other information if you need to

You can also get information from the following sources:

  • foreign government websites
  • business websites set up for specific countries
  • your local Chamber of Commerce — they might have information and seminars for members at little or no cost. They might also have networks with Chambers of Commerce all around the world.
  • the Export Library and Information Service — they offer free, up-to-date and reliable information. Find details like country profiles, foreign exchange rates and time zone information. 

New Zealand Chamber Network (external link)

Export Library & Information Service (external link) — New Zealand School of Export

Think about intellectual property if you export a service

Stopping someone from copying your ideas is always important. Be extra careful when you sell a service, a process or a unique way of working.

Check the intellectual property law in the other country when you’re choosing an export market. Also do one of these things:

  • register your patent in your overseas target market
  • apply for a patent under the Patent Co-operation Treaty. 

Applying for patents in different markets is worthwhile. The process includes searches for existing patents, so you’ll find out if you might infringe on any.

Filing international patent applications (external link) — New Zealand Intellectual Property Office

Learn more about finance and modelling

If you’d like to make better financial decisions, use our free resources to improve your understanding of finance and financial modelling.

Advanced finance: 7 key concepts

Financial models: Step-by-step guide

Get financial help

If you’re ready to export but aren’t sure you can afford it, you might be able to raise money. For example, you could:

  • get funding from angel investors
  • get investment from friends and family
  • sell a share in your company

Use the Funding Explorer to find out your options (external link)

Or you could apply for grants, vouchers (subsidies) for training, or other forms of help.

Government grants and help for your established business

New Zealand Export Credit gives trade credit insurance and financial guarantees to exporters. 

Who New Zealand Export credit is and how to apply (external link) — New Zealand Export Credit

Solutions for exporters (external link) — New Zealand Export Credit

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How to Create a Business Plan for Exporting Goods?

16 may 2023.

Global Trade Data

Regardless of whether companies have previous experience in exporting goods to other countries or are entering markets for the first time, there are risks involved in exporting goods from one international border to another. Good research, real buyer search, the best product selection, and the right country choice are major factors contributing to exporting goods globally. Let’s find out how these factors are important in achieving business goals.

                   ·          Commodity Analysis

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

Firstly, you should select a product that you want to export to the world. How to make the right search? Get trade data with full specifications of commodities and other details that will help you understand which products are more in demand around the world. You also have to study the competition level of your selected commodity.

                      ·          Country Analysis

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

Secondly, you have to decide in which countries you want to supply your commodity. For this, you have to get data and analyze bilateral trade relations between the countries. For example, if you are an exporter in Indonesia and want to supply your commodity to the international market, so you have to analyze which countries are buying your commodity from your country. And find out which countries are having great demand for your product. Finally, decide accordingly to which country you want to export your commodity.  

                  ·          Identify and Connect with Buyers

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

You have selected your commodity and country, now you have to find potential and trusted buyers in that country. There are many sources from where you can get information on importers. These include – embassies, trade promotion associations, government agencies, trade events, and so on. Get the list of importers and start contacting them to get the answers of your trade-related questions. Always consider authentic buyers and get connected with them for making the best deal.

At the same time, it is crucial for companies to do market research, set clear goals, and create an export plan. Developing an export plan is a critical step in any business market expansion efforts. An export plan will allow businesses to investigate their target market and determine how their products can successfully fit into it. Take a look at the steps of how to build an effective export plan.

                            1.     Start an Export Market Expansion Program

Build designated program leaders and export teams and summarize the baseline of the company and export history. Conduct an export benchmark assessment in order to summarize and implement significant findings. Define your business and financial objectives to expand your reach. Periodically assess progress toward accomplishing results and identify needed adjustments.

                            2.     Target High-Potential Export Markets

The next step is to make product assessments on key components like export, import, sales, and so on. Identify export promotion organizations that will help you in finding the best prospects. Collect relevant data or directly purchase data from a reliable market research company to analyze and select the highest potential markets for your product.

                            3.     Build Export Market Plans

Review, and assess market entry method options and select the most appropriate one. Analyze and determine suitable channels of distribution. Study target markets to identify competitors. Get essential data and investigate competitors’ products, market segments, and channels of distribution, price, and promotional strategies. With in-depth insights into competitors’ business, you can develop competitive positioning.

                           4.     Build an Effective Export Organization

Develop conclusive plans, policies, and processes to accommodate the accelerated export activity. Designate a company-wide export team to initiate tasks. Obtain required approvals. Identify target market, attend global trade shows & other promotional events, and get connected with potential buyers.

                           5.     Build a Successful Export Distribution Network

Assess and evaluate promotional activities and events and select preferred distribution partners. Visit the preferred distribution partner and negotiate & finalize agreements. Evaluate the degree to which the export distribution network modules were achieved.

                           6.     Build Profitable Global Export Sales

Implement sales promotional activities, respond to export sales inquiries for potential sales opportunities, and negotiate final sales terms and prices. Book shipment of orders, obtain required documents, prepare commercial and other documents and fillings, and collect cash-in-advance sales. Finally, deliver the order to the carrier. Collect letters of credit, documentary collection, and open account methods, and evaluate export sales results.

Major Points to Keep in Mind for a Smooth Export Marketing Plan

                        ·          Analyze trade scenarios of countries.

                        ·          Top economies may have great demand but can see competition.

                        ·          Select the best product.

                        ·          Be ready to make modifications to your product.

                        ·          Do a thorough study and analyze the long-term plans of your company.

In order to start an export sales plan, it is important for an exporter to have clear goals. An efficient export sale or marketing plan enables businesses to create a blueprint to sell their products across international borders without much trouble. Success in exporting goods to the world is difficult but possible when you have a clear path on how to navigate international markets. Follow these above-mentioned steps and export your product to the international market.

prepare a business plan for exporting your goods

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COMMENTS

  1. Develop your export plan

    The International Trade Hotline can help U.S. small businesses facing barriers in accessing international markets or seeking referrals to SBA and U.S. trade government programs. Discover the small business benefits of U.S. trade agreements and assistance going global. Contact the toll-free trade hotline at 855-722-4877 or reach out by email at ...

  2. Import Export Business Plan Template (2024)

    According to the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), the total value of US goods and services exports in 2022 was approximately $2.09 trillion, and the value of imports was approximately $3.0 trillion. This resulted in a trade deficit of roughly $948.1 billion for the year.

  3. Develop an Export Plan

    An export plan helps you understand the facts, constraints, and goals around your international effort. Use it to create specific objectives, decide on implementation schedules, and mark milestones of your success. It can also motivate your team to reach goals. Written plans give a clear understanding of specific steps to take to assure a ...

  4. Import Export Business Plan Template

    Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P's: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For an import-export business plan, your marketing plan should include the following: Product: In the product section, you should reiterate the type of import-export company that you documented in your Company Analysis.

  5. Guide to Starting an Import/Export Business: Step-by-Step

    Sample List of Estimated Costs to Start a New Import/Export Business in the USA (lower and upper values): Business Registration and Licensing: $500 - $1,000. Office Space (Deposit and Initial Setup): $5,000 - $10,000. Initial Inventory Purchase: $10,000 - $50,000.

  6. How to Write an Import Export Business Plan + Free Template

    1. Executive Summary. An executive summary is the first section of the business plan, usually written at the last when the whole plan is ready. It provides a high-level overview of the import-export business plan. It summarizes the key points, from business concept to financial outlook, for a quick understanding of your business.

  7. Sample Export Plan

    Sample Export Plan Completing an international business plan helps you to anticipate future goals, assemble facts, identify constraints and create an action statement. It should set forth specific objectives and implement a timetable and milestones. A strategy for entering or expanding into targeted markets is critical to your success in the global marketplace.

  8. How to Write a Business Plan for Your Import-Export Business

    Your executive summary should have: Your business concept: what you'll sell, who will purchase it, and why your business will work. Financial points: your sales, profits, cash flows, and ROI. Required finances: what capital is needed and how it will be used. Current business state: a short history of your business including key members of staff.

  9. How to Start an Import-Export Business: Complete Guide

    The Wise Business Name Generator - Import-Export can help you if you're stuck on names. 2. Undertake market research. Your business plan must also include market research and analysis to show your business will become profitable. The first step is to do an analysis on the products you're interested in importing or exporting.

  10. Import Export Business Plan Example

    Start your own import export business plan. Visigoth Imports Inc Executive Summary ... Our revenue model is based on a commission rate charged to our clients scaled on the dollar value of goods moved per order. Milestones & Metrics Milestones Table. Milestone Due Date; Q1 Review. Mar 06, 2018: Q2 Review. June 06, 2018: Q3 Review. Sept 13, 2018:

  11. Import/Export Company: get a solid business plan (example)

    Your business plan will be filled with various metrics and data. It must be well structured, to make easy to read and digest. When we built our business plan for an import/export company, we made sure to outline it properly. There are 5 main sections (Opportunity, Project, Market Research, Strategy and Finances). 1.

  12. How to write a business plan for an import-export company?

    A business plan is not a one-shot exercise as maintaining it current is the only way to keep visibility on your future cash flows. A business plan has 2 main parts: a financial forecast outlining the funding requirements of your import-export company and the expected growth, profits and cash flows for the next 3 to 5 years; and a written part ...

  13. 10 steps to the perfect export plan

    This is a core part of the Passport to Export service offering. 3. Research and prepare to visit the market. Researching markets is essential to help reduce risk and improve chance of success. This is usually a combination of desk and field research. Each business and each market is unique.

  14. A Complete Guide to Small Business Exporting

    Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) accounted for $460 billion of the known export value in 2019. Yet, e-commerce skyrocketed in 2020, providing more chances for international sales. Global growth offers many benefits. It could even give a lifeline to small businesses in rural areas.

  15. How to Create a Business Plan for Importing or Exporting Goods

    Executive Summary: Start your business plan with a concise executive summary that provides an overview of your import/export venture. Clearly define your business goals, target market, competitive advantage, and a brief description of the products or services you intend to import or export. Market Analysis: Conduct a thorough market analysis to ...

  16. Step 3

    3.2 Foundation: your business plan. A good export plan begins at home. Now is the time to review and renew your business plan if it is out of date. If you don't have one, this is definitely the time to create one. 3.3 Building on the foundation: your export plan. Once you've polished up your business plan, you can start creating your export plan.

  17. How to Start an Import Export Business in 9 Easy Steps

    Market your business. 1. Identify products to import or export. Starting a successful import-export business means determining what products or services you want to trade. You need to look into different items and industries to find out what's in demand worldwide and see if importing or exporting them is practical.

  18. Top 10 Export Business Plan Templates with Examples and ...

    The business plan ppt templates provide a structured framework for outlining your business goals, strategies, and financial projections, ensuring a smooth path to export success. With the right plan and these templates, you can capitalize on the immense opportunities the global market offers and contribute to your country's economic global ...

  19. How to Write and Present an Import/Export Business Plan

    The second step of writing your import/export business plan is to conduct a market analysis. This involves researching your target market, customers, competitors, suppliers, and industry trends.

  20. How To Start An Export Business: From Local To Global

    Starting an export business doesn't have to be difficult. With the help of Cargo Export USA, your business will be operational and earning money at a rapid pace. Let us help you unlock the door to international success. Connect with us through the site or call our team at (866) 301-0635 .

  21. 5 key questions your export plan should answer

    Here are five key questions that must be answered when you are working on your export plan. 1. What are your expansion goals? Montagner says an export plan needs clear goals and objectives. To start with, think about where you want to be in six months, in two years or in five years.

  22. Create a good export plan

    Barriers created by government policies and regulations often mean you have to: carry out administrative procedures. restrict how much you can export. license or label products a certain way. store and protect data a certain way. appoint certain types of people to your board. procure materials a certain way.

  23. How to Create a Business Plan for Exporting Goods?

    Take a look at the steps of how to build an effective export plan. 1. Start an Export Market Expansion Program. Build designated program leaders and export teams and summarize the baseline of the company and export history. Conduct an export benchmark assessment in order to summarize and implement significant findings.