Starting and Running
an Import Export Business


An import export business is a type of business that can be very profitable for the entrepreneur with the right mindset and business attitude.  Whether you’re a start-up or a well established business, if you’re entertaining the idea of an export import business, then there are a few things you should know. 

First off, you could choose to focus purely on an import / export business, or you could use it as a way to expand your current business.  For the most part, the same principles would apply to either case.

Import / Export Businesses: The Basics


If you’re looking for an import export business opportunity, there are plenty to choose from. You just have to know where to look.

First it’s important to understand that there are three main types of import export businesses. An export management company, or EMC, handles exports for a domestic company trying to sell products overseas. This can be an excellent solution for small business owners who want to export but need help doing it. It’s also an easy way to automate your import / export efforts because you’re basically letting someone else manage it.

An export trading company, or ETC, tries to figure out what foreign buyers want and then looks for domestic sources for those items. Getting in touch with an ETC can also help small business owners with exporting.

An import / export merchant is essentially an international entrepreneur or free agent who goes where the money is. He doesn’t work with just one supplier or manufacturer. He looks for opportunities and follows them. This is the best choice for a small business owner who wants to get into the export / import business entirely for himself.

To make the connections necessary to get into any of the three types of import / export businesses, check with the American Association of Exporters and Importers ( or the International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations ( Consider attending events sponsored by these organizations in order to network and get your start.

Buying and Selling Import / Export Businesses

You may wish to buy import businesses for sale instead of starting your own. is one example of a good online tool that has a great system for you to learn about export businesses for sale and figure out if you would like to purchase one.

The process varies from country to country, but by going through a broker, you’ll have someone to guide you through the process. It’s similar to buying other types of businesses.

You make an offer after reviewing the company’s financial records and facilities to determine if the import / export business is really worth the price they are asking.


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