HOW TO START AND OPERATE YOUR OWN PROFITABLE
IMPORT BUSINESS FROM HOME WITH LITTLE OR NO COST.
What are the two or three products most in demand? Consider their methods of
distribution. If you are importing goods, you will need to find distributors that can
handle the quantity of goods at a high enough price for you to profit by. A single
retail outlet or two is not enough to make your time worthwhile. Look into how
buyer work and make contacts in the large retail chains if you have retail
Take a look at the household items and equipment you have in your home. Made
in West Germany, made in Japan, made in Korea. You may have clothing from
India, shoes from Brazil, a leather wallet from Italy. Your car may be an importer,
your stereo equipment may be manufactured elsewhere. There are hundreds and
hundreds of items manufactured all over the world, now being used by the
Nigeria consumer. The market is huge. And there are many Nigeria firms looking
for foreign-made merchandise to distribute. Some items are less expensive; some
are better made; some imported because they are made in a country now
fashionable with the designers.
What can you tap into? Maybe you have contacts in Nigeria, distributors looking
for certain goods. And you have already made contacts in the foreign countries
that produce these goods. Follow through and get yourself an exclusive
distribution agreement w3ith those manufacturers. Importing requires the same
diligence and follow-up. You will need a signed contact with the manufacturer to
be the sole agent distributing to Nigeria. You will also need to obtain firm price
quotes from the manufacturer in the quantities your distributor requests. These
quotes should be converted into the appropriate dollar figures representing the
Investigate the reputation of the manufacturer and the reliability of the goods. If
you import something like electronic components, check into the other
distribution market the manufacturer has to assure the quality of merchandise.
Your commission will come through from the foreign manufacturer. Have your
bank investigate the solvency of that company and the reputation of living up to
agreements. Since it’s on foreign territory you’d have more trouble in any legal
suit, even in light of the many international laws. Prepare the price quotation. It is
easiest if you request terms of delivery merchandise from that port, overseas, and
through domestic customs. Follow through with all the details of shipment. Be
sure to include any insurance, dock fees, storage rates, and shipping overland.
Overlook noting so you price quotation to the Nigerian distributor accurate.
Itemize the quotation and give it to the Nigerian distributor. Upon receipt of an
authorized order, double check prices and follow through on delivery. The letter
of credit will go from the Nigerian distributor to the bank of the manufacturer. All
terms and agreements regarding prices, freight and insurance will be defined. The
manufacturer’s representative will confirm receipt of the letter of credit, which
will release the goods for shipment. Have your freight forwarder follow up on the
shipment of goods. They may have to be freighted from the factory to the docks.
Arrangements for shipping need to be carried out. Customs duties and unloading
need to be followed through from the Nigerian port. Then, the goods may need to
be freighted overland to the final destination. As soon as the goods have arrived
at the proper assigned destination, papers have to be documented and presented
to the bank that holds the letter of credit. Then, all carriers and agents need to be
paid, and you collect your commission.
After you have completed a few sales transactions to establish yourself, you will
need to promote your importer business to get more clients. The first
transactions give you the experience to learn the ropes of the business, and to
establish contacts and agents both here and abroad. Join organizations of
commerce and foreign trade associations to develop more contacts and extend
your territory. Talk to everybody you contact about importing and exporting,
learning from their mistakes and successes.
Advertise in the print media for distributors and for goods. Manufacturers don’t
know how to make the contacts for foreign distribution. Show them your
credentials and pick them up on exclusive contacts. With a little experience, you
can market almost anything anywhere.
EXPANDING THE BUSINESS
The profit of the import business is in the quantity of the goods traded. The
higher the cost of the merchandise, the higher the profit from your percentage.
Since you need to go through all the steps for each transaction, having more sales
on a continual basis simply adds to profit. Send constant mailings to your original
of contacts and follow-up leads.
You might develop a sales approach. As you develop more clients, you can
convince the bigger companies of your reputation. Contact as many
manufacturers and distributors as you canon both sides of the ocean. And solidify
these contacts. You may be able to work out an arrangement with someone to
work in a certain country for a commission.
Or you might want to take a business trip here to personally meet with the
various companies. Get in- depth information on the products now selling. Why
are certain products successful? Maybe you can get into the same market with a
more competitive product. Investigate ways to sell more. Do the products need to
be better made? Do they sell better at a reduce price? Know what sells and where
to get it.
MAKING IT WORK
The import business is a high profit enterprise. Because of the low overhead,
most of the money you make on commission is your. But building a truly
profitable business requires dedication and a good knowledge of the business.
You need numerous contacts who know you, respect you, and can recommend
your work. You need to have good agent both here and abroad to help you follow
through on the delivery of the goods. You need a good working relationship with
you own bank and possibly the others that letter of credit come into as branch
transfers from foreign offices. Don’t be hasty for order. Investigate the
manufacturers and the distributors to be sure the products and sales methods are
reputable . Check out the particulars of shipping and manufacturing from the
foreign country. Each culture works in a specific manner. Get to know how to
work with those people. The import business is for everyone. But it is personal
operation that you can run yourself- you don’t have to answer to anybody. The
rewards of negotiating in a foreign country are excitement, a touch of the exotic,
and the great profit potentials.
When you make the proper contacts and follow through completely with
reputable manufacturers, reliable shipping companies, and responsible
distributors, you have it made. If you are ready to put in the time, sell yourself.
Start making inquiries and contacts. Try it on for size. Does it feel good? Then
make it succeed.
IMPORT/EXPORT BUSINESS. WHERE DO I START?
I often receive inquiries from workshop/seminar participants, my importers club
members, clients, and visitors asking, “Where do I start?”
There are many aspects of international trade to learn. I have been studying and
practicing in this field for years, and I can honestly tell you there is no quick way
through all of the information. It's a matter of persistence and patience. In
addition, every single venture is different and presents unique challenges. But it
can be done, and if you pursue it further than the next person, then you win. So
hang in there. You can do it!
With that said, here are my suggestions: These are the 4 main points to
1. Learn the import export basics, but don't let yourself get too bogged down. As
I always discuss in my popular import export workshops, there are 7 main areas to
- Product or Service
- Trade Barriers
- Market Research
- International Marketing
- Legal Issues
- Financial Aspects
Keep in mind, that international trade is not a light or quick subject to learn. It’s
not something you can learn completely in a 4 hour seminar. However, we have
designed an importers training club for my clients and seminar graduates/
participants that will help get them started and remain on the right track.
2. Research, research, research! If you think about research as just making a lot
of phone calls, looking up and collecting important information, and reading
market reports, government statistics, and trade magazines. Research helps you
to make important decisions about your business, such as how to market your
products in a certain country. Most importantly, research will reveal whether an
import export venture is worthy of going forward or not.
I always say, "Increase your research to decrease your risk"
3. You must write a business plan (if it is a start-up) or an international marketing
plan (if you are expanding into new markets with your existing business) in order
to attract investors, bankers, or small business government funding programs.
You may find this a shocking statement, but guess what: no one else can do it for
you. The business plan is where you express you vision and idea for the business,
and compile all of your research.
4. Make the right contacts. Relationships are the key to a successful international
In addition, unless you are on you way to getting an extensive education in the
field, then the best thing to do is to hire an international trade consultant who
does have the education and experience to assist you. Having knowledgeable
input will dramatically increase your chances of success. As I said earlier, you
should gain a basic understanding of import export, but you must rely on experts
around you to provide the needed information to make important decisions.
My experience holding public import export seminars and working with
thousands of entrepreneurs around the world, has lead me to understand that
most start-up companies cannot afford the expensive fees of a consultant. That is
why I created affordable options for my clients, participants, and website visitors.
On my Import Export discounts, you can find all the low cost options I wrote to
help import entrepreneurs like yourself:
You can also sign up for my import training forum, which provides import export
business start up information, links, resources, free training/mentorship support
and articles. By becoming a subscriber, you will gain direct access to my advice,
suggestions, online resources, and special offers.
I know you can achieve your dreams through your own import export venture.
International trade is one of the hot industries of the new millennium. But it’s not
new. Think Marco Polo. Think the great caravans of the biblical age with their
cargoes of silks and spices. Think even further back to prehistoric man trading
shells and salt with distant tribes. Trade exists because one group or country has a
supply of some commodity or merchandise that is in demand by another. And as
the world becomes more and more technologically advanced, as we shift in subtle
and not so subtle ways toward one-world modes of thought, international trade
becomes more and more rewarding, both in terms of profit and personal
This explores the flourishing business of international trade from both the import
and export sides of the fence. Think of an investigative report—like those TV news
magazine shows but without the commercials. We’ll delve into the steadily rising
economic success of the field and dip into the secrets of the world’s,
THE INTERNATIONAL ADVENTURER/IMPORTER
Importing is not just for those lone footloose adventurer types who survive by
their wits and the skin of their teeth. It’s big business these days—to the tune of
an annual $1.2 trillion in goods,. Exporting is just as big. In one year alone,
American companies exported $772 billion in merchandise to more than 150
foreign countries. Everything from beverages to commodes—and a staggering list
of other products you might never imagine as global merchandise—are fair game
for the savvy trader. And these products are bought, sold, represented and
distributed somewhere in the world on a daily basis.
But the import/export field is not the sole purview of the conglomerate corporate
trader. While large companies exported 70 percent of the value of all exports, the
big guys make up only about 4 percent of all exporters. Which means that the
other 96 percent of exporters—the lion’s share—are small outfits like yours will
be—when you’re new, at least.
Why is import business such a big deal?
Why are imports such big business around the world? There are lots of reasons,
but the three main ones boil down to:
Availability: There are some things you just can’t grow or make in your home
Cachet: A lot of things, if they’re imported rather than home-grown. Think
Scandinavian furniture, German beer, French perfume, Nigerian, Senegalese and
Ghanaian fabrics, Egyptian cotton. Even when you can make it at home, it all
seems classier when it comes from distant shores.
Price: Some products are cheaper when brought in from out of the country.
Korean toys, Taiwanese electronics and Mexican clothing, to rattle off a few, can
often be manufactured or assembled in foreign factories for far less money than if
they were made on the domestic front.
Aside from cachet items, countries typically export goods and services that they
can produce inexpensively and import those that are produced more efficiently
somewhere else. What makes one product less expensive for a nation to
manufacture than another? Two factors: resources and technology.
Resources means natural products, such as timber and minerals, as well as
human ones, like low-cost labor and highly skilled workers.
Technology is the knowledge and tools to process raw resources into finished
products. A country with extensive oil resources and the technology of a refinery,
for example, will export oil but may need to import clothing.
OK, you may be thinking, sounds good. But what exactly does an international
trader do? In the simplest terms, he or she is a salesperson, but instead of
peddling domestically manufactured products on his or her home turf, a trader
deals in more exotic merchandise, materials that are foreign to somebody on
some far shore. The importer / exporter also acts as a sort of international
matchmaker, pairing up buyers and sellers of products in different countries. He
can operate as a middleman, purchasing merchandise directly from the
manufacturer and selling to retailers or wholesalers in another country. Or he
may have his own network of retail distribution representatives selling on
commission. As a third permutation, he might hire an outside company to find
sales for him. And as a fourth version, he might serve as a consultant for foreign
countries that want to export their products but don’t know how.
Let’s back up a little and take this one step at a time. When you’re wearing your
import hat, you’ll be bringing goods into these countries. When you’ve got on
your export cap, you’ll be shipping things out of the country, into foreign markets.
Let’s say, for example, that you’ve decided to import handcrafts. You might have
spotted them at an outdoor market while you were traveling through West Africa,
or maybe you became involved by answering a trade lead, a “want ad” placed by
a local artisan group desperately seeking local/foreign representation. In either
case, you swing into action. You get hold of a price list and some samples and
then, you ferry the samples around to wholesalers or retailers, generate interest
through your top-notch salesmanship, and book orders. Once you’ve made a
predetermined number of sales, you purchase the handcrafts from the artisans,
have them shipped to your buyers, and then those buyers pay you.
This may sound complicated, with you busily purchasing merchandise and having
it sent on to third parties who haven’t yet coughed up a dime, but there are ways
to protect yourself that you’ll learn as we go along in this book. And this won’t be
the only way you’ll structure deals. You might, for example, work off a
commission as a representative, negotiating payments directly between artisans
and buyers, so that you don’t put up any money yourself. But we’ll discuss all this
later, too. For now, let’s say that you’ll learn how to make it work.
You’ll also learn how to export merchandise. You may have seen the
manufacturer’s advertisement seeking a sales or distribution representative. But
in this instance, let’s say you came up with this an idea on your own after spotting
the sporty items in a local store and figuring that the product would give it a
certain “imported” cachet in the target country. You approach the manufacturer,
who may very well be astounded by the idea of exporting her product—this is still
a novel idea to most companies. All you need is a price list, some samples and
figures on what quantities you can order, and how long it will take her to fill your
The manufacturer agrees and you’re off and running, with your first tasks being to
determine just how to generate sales and how to price the items ice chests to
cover expenses (including shipping costs, taxes and tariffs) and still make a profit.
Next, you find a foreign partner to distribute your product in your target country
Siberia. You send him some samples and a price list, and he gets busy selling.
As you predicted, the American products ice chests are a smash hit. Your sales
representative generates oodles of sales from Foreign Siberian retailers and sends
the orders to you along with letters of credit from the buyers. (A letter of credit is
an agreement from the buyer’s bank to release the buyer’s funds into your local
bank account.( More on this later.) So with your orders and letter of credit in
hand, you purchase enough American products ice chests to fill the orders and
have them picked up by the shipping company directly from the manufacturer.
Then you take the shipping documents—showing that you’ve fulfilled your part of
the deal by sending out the merchandise—and the letters of credit to your bank
and—bingo! The money goes into your account. As a final step, you send your
overseas Siberian sales representative his commission.
And that’s—in a very basic way—how the international trade business works. It
can appear daunting, with convoluted components like customs, trade barriers
and tariffs, currency fluctuations, exclusive/nonexclusive distribution rights, and
packing and shipping plights—not to mention cultural and communication
twists—but it can also be exciting, rewarding and profitable. And not at all
daunting once you’ve done your homework.
Back To The Future
It’s no wonder that international trade is a hot field today. We’re living in a brave
new world. The enthusiastic emergence of free market ideas around the globe
have created an unprecedented bounty of international trade opportunities.
Markets that didn’t even exist a few short years ago now devour imported goods
with startlingly voracious appetites.
If you picture the globe as a world market map and the international trader as a
jet-setting country-hopper (like in those B-movies where a dotted line shows the
trail of the hero’s plane), you’d be hard-pressed to find a spot where you couldn’t
deal in imports or exports. The “Seven Tigers” and other nations of the Asian
Pacific Rim are booming, with China representing the single largest market
opportunity in the world. On the other side of the International Date Line, Mexico
has emerged as one of the United States’ biggest trading partners. The passage of
the North American Free Trade Agreement. Across the Atlantic, Europe has
emerged from a crippling recession into a new era of economic expansion.
Former Soviet countries—the “stans”—are developing quickly and eager to trade
with wealthy nations. And in Africa, traditionally isolated countries are beginning
to follow South Africa’s successful example in using economic development to
facilitate social and political reform.
As a budding import/export entrepreneur, you couldn’t wish for a better setup.
The world is your oyster, the globe your market. Opportunities abound whether
you want to import foreign goods into Africa or export our own products to
Counting Your Coconuts
What can you expect to make as an international trader? The amount’s entirely
up to you, depending only on how serious you are and how willing you are to
expand. Annual gross revenues for the industry range from $30,000 to $200,000
and beyond, with an average of about $75,000. Some traders work from home,
supplementing 9-to-5 incomes with their trading expertise. Others have launched
thriving full-time businesses that demand constant care, attention and feeding.
“There’s tons and tons of opportunity for *export+ trade’’ testimonials from
manufacturers that are at least 10 years behind the clock in exporting.” So the
potential for growth is entirely up to you—as long as you’re willing to put in the
Be prepared to work long hours.
You have to try with all your energy and Just keep doing your best he counsels.
Work on it all the time.
Do not expect immediate or short-term success. “Be willing to work around the
international clock, if you will, accept discourtesies, both foreign and domestic, in
stride, maintain the highest standard of personal and business ethics in dealing
with your principal and buyer, learn from your mistakes, and keep a supply of
One of the catch-22s of being in business for yourself is that you need money to
make money—in other words, you need start-up funds. These costs range
from$500 to more than $25,000 for the import/export business. You can start out
home based, which means you won’t need to worry about leasing office space.
You don’t need to purchase a lot of inventory, and you probably won’t need
employees for a start.
Your basic necessities will be a computer, printer, fax machine or email address
and modem. If you already have these items, then you’re off and running. Several
of the traders we talked with started from ground zero. “We started from
nothing, but patience, determination, hard work, excellent customer care service
and prayers, that was all it took.
A friend of mine started a trading company from a similar financial position. “We
had very little money in the bank,” he says. What they did have was a carefully
built relationship with suppliers, and with this valuable asset the company was
able to get up and running.
The level of risk and stability
In addition to profits and start-up costs, two other important aspects to consider
are risk and stability . In import/export, the stability factors are as strong as you
are. The world isn’t going anywhere (we hope), and neither is the need and desire
for international trade.
The key to longevity in import/export, is in maintaining a consistent performance.
“There are a lot of opportunists who have come into this business, They’ve got a
fax [machine] in their house, they make a couple thousand dollars and disappear.
They’re here today, gone tomorrow. To prove yourself as a consistent [trader]
who can keep the clients and businesses alive on a day-in, day-out basis, that’s
The risk factor is relatively low, providing you’re willing to work for your rewards,
an international trade consultant in Daugendorf, Germany, advises: “Look at the
markets, the pricing, the trends. Look to your customers’ wishes, target your
market, and you will never, ever fail, so long as you do all this thoroughly and
The Right Stuff
So you’ve decided that running an import/export business is potentially profitable
for you. You’re willing to invest not only the money but also the time to learn the
ropes and become established as a pro. What else should you consider?
Not everybody is cut out to be an international trader. This is not, for example, a
career for the sales-phobic. If you’re one of those people who would rather work
on a chain gang than sell Girl Scout cookies, or if you blanch at the thought of
making a sales pitch, then you don’t want to be in import/export. This is also not a
career for the organizationally challenged. If you’re one of those let-the-devil-
handle-the-details types whose idea of follow-up is waiting to see what happens
next, you should think twice about international trading.
If, on the other hand, you’re an enthusiastic salesperson, a dynamo at tracking
things like invoices and shipping receipts, and your idea of heaven is seeing where
new ideas and new products will take you and then getting them there, and if, to
top it off, you love the excitement of dealing with people from different cultures,
then this is the career for you.
Prior knowledge is an added advantage.
It also helps if you already have a background in import/export. Most of the
traders we talked with were well-versed in the industry before launching their
own businesses. Peter P., who founded a trading company, segued directly from
his college major in international business to an operations position with an
international frozen-meat trading company in Atlanta, which landed him in the
right place at the right time.
The Trade Bug
Michael R., the German trade consultant, let his enchantment with the world be
his entrée into the industry. “I was simply interested in the worldwide markets
and their cultural and personal relationships,” he explains, “and I started from
being an apprentice—right from the beginning—mostly in investment and
construction goods and projects.” Now, 32 years later, Michael is still in the
business—and still enjoying it.
For Jan H., an importer/exporter in Belgium, just living in Western Europe was
enough to open the door to international trade. So how’d he get started? “I don’t
really know,” he says. “It’s an instinct. Belgium is such a small country that one
has to look around. And I love to travel the world, especially warm countries.”
Dan S., who lives and works in New Jersey, fell in love with the world of
international trade on the assembly line at a plant where Chanel cosmetics were
packaged for export. Fueled by a goal to deal in import/export, he worked his way
up various corporate ladders to a job with AT&T, exporting connectors and fiber
cable to Asia. From there he moved on to his present position in Lucent
Technology’s wireless division.
Dan’s new company sells products he knows intimately—cables of every
description, as well as software solutions. “I have more than 10 years of
experience in import/export and technology,” Dan says. “I caught the
[international trade] bug and decided to venture off on my own.”
Overnight From Nothing
Wahib W., a native of Egypt, started out as a mechanical engineer for Caterpillar,
the earthmover people, working overseas. In 1985, he arrived in the United
States, where he promptly started in on both an MBA degree and a position with
a company that sold runway lights and navigational aids for airports. When the
company became too heavily involved in domestic sales to handle the
international work, Wahib formed a company to take up the slack. The new
company also began selling other types of construction projects, from wooden
telephone-pole installation to railroads, supplying materials or construction
services or both, and soon business was so good that Wahib was able to buy out
his former employer.
Wahib stresses that his success developed from his prior experience in the field.
“Nobody becomes an exporter overnight from nothing,” Wahib says. “You have to
be coming from somewhere.”
Take John L., an international business services provider in São Paulo, Brazil. John
learned the ins and outs of import/export as an international purchasing manager
for a large company before striking out on his own in 1994.
And in Florida, Lloyd D. worked in the operations sector of international banking
before making the move to his own company. “I decided to expand into export
management and export trading,” he explains, “relying on my previous
experience in an international environment to support my new endeavors.”
Here You Are
Bruno C., who makes his home in Derchigny Graincourt, France, studied
international trade at universities in France and Spain and completed his
schooling in South America by teaching import and export strategy and
techniques to others. He then went on to the college of real life. “One of my first
jobs after my studies was in one of the first three major French supermarket
groups as an import assistant,” Bruno says. “I can say that in four months *there+,
I learned much more than in four years of studies.”
But that wasn’t enough to get him a job in international trade. Despite a year of
teaching, he lacked hands-on training. “Therefore,” Bruno continues, “because I
was not considered to have enough experience to work in the [international
trade] department of a medium-sized company, I decided to create my own
business. And here I am.”
Here, too, are you—on the brink of an exciting new course of action, starting your
own import/export business. As you can see, there are many paths you can take
toward your own niche in the field, many roads that lead to success. Keep in
mind, however, that they all require dedication, hard work and, especially for
those who are newbies in the field, a great deal of learning.
If you are still reading, we assume you have decided to take the plunge and forge
ahead with your new career. There is, however, one more thing to take into
consideration: the industry prognosis. Will international trading be around for the
next 100 years and beyond?
The answer is optimistic. As we saw at the start of the write up, there’s a great big
beautiful tomorrow for the import/export industry. they would probably bring
with them greater opportunities for trade—of the intergalactic kind.
It is always possible, of course, that another world war will sweep across our little
planet yet again, and that the faces of our economic allies will fade and no others
will take their place, or that some incredible natural disaster will occur, like a
meteor obliterating our planet (in which case you won’t need to worry about your
career anyway). But barring these calamitous events, the future of international
trade is bright.
So fasten your seatbelt, bring your tray table to the upright position, and let’s
start your learning curve. Welcome.
How to Start an Export Business
Trading goods and services allows small businesses around the world to compete
on a global basis with their larger competitors.
In the past, it was very costly to acquire the commercial intelligence needed to
play in the global market place.
Now, armed with the internet we can access valuable market information and
find foreign buyers and local suppliers, anywhere, anytime.
One of the most common questions I receive is how to start an import export
business. So, I've prepared a list of my favorite import export business start-up
resources and tools.
First, start by learning a little more about import and export. See our website on
www.bbicnigeria.com They are an excellent alternative for those who are unable
to access our corporate training packages and consulting sessions directly. You
can also attend free training programs offered by business builders importers club
(. B. B.I. C ) and . S. A. D. C.
When you are convinced of the vast opportunities that the field of import export
offers, you need to register your business with the government, get trained and
Remember, contact Foreign consulates and embassies in your city for assistance
with your IMPORT business and finding suppliers and manufacturers.
The next step is to find out about any export finance programs, federal export
programs, market reports and trade regulations that your government may
As an International Trade Consultant, here is one of the most important tips I can
To obtain funding or apply for a government program you will need a Business
Plan. Developing a strategic Marketing or Business Plan is the key to succeeding
in any business. Research and planning are especially important for global
ventures. It allows you to identify your opportunities and risks.
HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU NEED TO START YOUR OWN IMPORT BUSINESS?
You need money to start a new import business-but how much exactly? Here are
seven easy ways to do the math. Think you are ready to start your import
business? Not so fast.
Before you take off, you need to know how much money it will cost to get
started. You may have a ballpark estimate, but that’s not detailed enough to
create a viable business plan and actually get your business off the ground.
Whether your start- up cost total #70, 000, or 5;000,000, you will need solid
numbers. The challenge is finding information that’s credible and reliable. The
good new: You can get hard data, plus valuable insight, from a variety of sources.
Here are seven places to explore:
People in the business, Entrepreneurs who are in the line of import business
similar to the one you intend to start are a superb resource for start-up cost
information , Your future competitors probably won’t want to assist you, of
course, but consultants are often more than willing to help.
Sources of supplies
Suppliers are another excellent resource for researching start-up costs. “get on
the phone and tell the person you are looking for cost in a particular area because
you are planning to start A business. Usually, they are very forthcoming because
they are looking for business (from you) themselves, However, l warn prospective
investors against relying too heavily on the first few suppliers about equipment
leasing, bulk- buying discounts, credit terms, start-up inventory packages and
other options that might lower your upfront costs.
Like business owners and suppliers, trade associations are “an excellent source
because you are dealing directly with (your) particular market niche, Depending
on the industry, trade associations might give you sample start-up cast
worksheets and financial statements, names of established business owners and
suppliers in the industry, market research data and other useful information.
Suppliers’ associations are good resources, too.
Business start-up guides
How-to start- up guides are available from several independent publishing
companies and some trade associations. These guides can be good resources for
researching start-up cost, especially in well- established industries. Make sure the
guide isn’t outdated, and keep in mind that some costs vary widely throughout
the country. As you read, be on he lookout for trips can help you lower your start-
If you are thinking about buying a franchise, the franchiser will give you lots of
data about start-up costs. Don’t view these numbers as absolutes, however,
because costs can vary depending on your location. “Test the conclusions the
franchiser (gives you) by crunching the numbers on your own”, suggests Bates.
Call existing franchisees and ask them how closely the franchiser’s projections
matched their actual start-up expenditures.
Business start-up articles
Newspaper and magazine articles rarely give item-by-item start-up-cost estimates
for a particular business in a specialized area like import/export business.
Nonetheless, these write-ups can offer ballpark estimates of overall start-up costs
and help you come up with itemized lists of the costs you will need to research.
Always use credible sources. Don’t forget to check trade magazine for information
about suppliers, cost, and trends in your line of trade.
Import Business consultants
A well- qualified import business consultant can offer excellent advice about start-
up cost-and even do a lot of the research for you. A consultant can also help you
organize your own research into useful financial projections and scenarios The
advantages of hiring an expert are that costly/deadly and time washing blonder
will be eradicated. If you do decide to work with a consultant, find someone
who’s knowledgeable and has experience with import business that can take you
by the hand and assist flyover all the hurdles on the way to success in the import
business. But a determined effort to research these costs will turn up the
numbers you are seeking. I suggest that you use a process/system called”
triangulation”, which involves getting three points of view for each number.” You
weigh the value of those (three) numbers and come up with a number you think
Good research can tell you whether your business idea is financially viable and
suggest ways to boost your chances of success. Once you have investigated the
start-up cost and developed a sound business plan based on those numbers, you
will be ready for anything…
This section outlines the formalities to be observed by importers and other
parties in Nigeria wishing to import and/or pay for goods into the country.
All persons intending to import physical goods into Nigeria are required in the
first instance to process their Form "M" through any bank irrespective of the
value and whether payment is involved or not.
Consignments shall bear name of products, country of origin, specifications, date
of manufacture, batch or lot number, standard(s) to which they were produced
(e.g. BS, DIN, ISO/IEC, NIS etc.)
Foodstuffs (including drinks), pharmaceuticals and chemicals should carry expiry
dates and/or shelf life and specify active ingredients where applicable on their
packaging. The expiry date should be at least half the shelf life as at the time of
All electronic equipment/items and instruments MUST carry INSTRUCTIONAL
MANUAL and not diagrams and notation on the containers
All electronic equipment/items and instruments MUST carry SAFETY information
and/or safety signs.
All electronic equipment/items and other items where applicable MUST carry a
GUARANTY/WARRANTY of at least six months.
Computer hardware and software must be year 2000 compliant
Plant materials, whether for planting, consumption of industry shall be covered
with phytosanitary certificate of the country of export, certifying that the plant
material was inspected and found free from pests and that some treatment has
been made where applicable in line with the International Plant Protection
Convention of FAO.
Every manufactured item including components and spare parts shall be branded
and bear manufacturers' names.
Electrical appliances (fluorescent lamps, electric bulbs. electric irons, kettles etc)
are required to carry information about their life performance whilst cables must
carry information on their rating.
Misrepresentation of product specifications will result in delays and/or seizure.
Supply of wrong information with an intention to cheat will also result in delays
and/or impoundment/seizure with attendant consequences.
Blank products will be automatically seized and destroyed.
All goods imported into the country shall be labelled in English in addition to any
other language or render themselves liable to confiscation.
Manufactured goods arid materials are subject to Standard Organization of
Nigeria's (SON) certification in accordance with the provision of its enabling law.
Form "M" and Clean Report of Inspection Procedure
From September 1, 1999 all goods except personal effects, used motor vehicles
and perishables i.e. day-old-chicks, human eyes, human remains, vaccines, yeast,
periodicals/magazines imported into the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be
subject to Pre-shipment Inspection in the country of supply. However, used motor
vehicles and perishables though exempted from pre-shipment inspection shall
require the completion of Form "M".
Any person importing goods into Nigeria shall process Form "M" through any
authorized commercial/merchant bank. The authorized banks shall be responsible
for delivering all Forms "M" (including those for imports excluded from
inspection) to the appointed inspection agents liaison offices in Nigeria.
The Form "M" and supporting documents submitted to the inspection companies
through the .authorized dealers shall be clearly marked "Valid for Forex" or "Not
Valid for Forex" depending upon whether or not foreign exchange remittance
would be involved.
The Form "M" and relevant profoma invoice must contain a proper description of
the goods to be imported, including relevant specifications, etc.
Form "M" shall be In centuplicate of which three copies shall be sent to the Pre-
shipment Inspection Agents and one each to the Importer's biro the Nigeria
Customs Service and NMA.
Form "M" is obtainable from ail the offices of the Pre- shipment Inspection
Agents, Nigerian Embassies, Local Banks, branches of Nigerian Banks overseas and
their correspondent batiks
The completed Form "M" (Not Valid for Foreign Exchange) originating , from
abroad will be returned through the appropriate Pre-shipment Inspection agents
abroad to any of the designated banks or any bank of importer's choice in Nigeria.
Issuance of the CRI or a Discrepancy Report shall be mandatory for all imports
except those exempted from inspection and those expressly exempted by the
Honourable Minister of Finance, provided approval would
have been obtained before shipment of goods.
The seller of the goods (i.e. the party with whom the Nigerian importer has a
contractual relationship) shall be required to arrange for the physical inspection
of goods with the appointed inspection company in the country of supply. The
pre-shipment inspection agent shall be given at least three working days notice
prior to the expected date of inspection.
The seller shall make the necessary arrangements for handling and presentation,
of the goods for the purpose of inspection and any expenses incurred therefore
shall be for his account. In the event that the seller has called in the Company
without having prepared the goods for inspection, or in the event that the goods
have been inspected and are found not to be up to requirements or
specifications, the expenses of any additional intervention by the Company shall
be borne by the seller.
The seller shall provide the appointed inspection agent with a copy of the packing
list, final invoice and any other document as would be requested by the
The importer shall advise his supplier on the need to submit after the completion
of inspection, the final or commercial invoice within 72 hours to the Inspection
Agent to facilitate the issuance of the Clean Report of Inspection (CRI).
Importers of cargoes in excess of the declaration on the manifest will continue to
be penalized according to the provisions of the law.
Import Duty Payment and Clearance of Goods
It shall be the duty of the importer's bank or the bank which processed the Form
"M" to issue a bank draft in respect of the amount stated on the CRI to the
customer who shall pay same to any of the designated banks.
All commercial imports into Nigeria shall be accompanied by a final invoice
bearing the CRI number with adequate description of the goods, packing list,
transportation document (B/L, AWB/Way Bill), and manufacturers' certificate of
analysis (where applicable).
The CRI number shall be stated on the Bill of Lading and also written against each
item on the cargo manifest.
The relevant inspection agent shall affix a security label on the final invoice
submitted by the seller attesting the fact that pre-shipment inspection as been
successfully performed. The final invoice will confirm, in L/C transactions to the
negotiating bank overseas, that the goods have been inspected in accordance
with the import requirement of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Final Invoice
shall bear the CRI Number and the certified value.
Goods imported through neighboring countries must be accompanied by relevant
Importers shall pay a CISS Administrative charge of 1% of Free On Board (F.O.B)
value of all imports assessed Argentina on the average rate of exchange prevailing
at the time of inspection of the goods as submitted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
All imports shall be assessed for duty at the average rate of exchange prevailing at
the time of issuance of CRI of the goods as submitted to the agents by the Central
Bank of Nigeria.
The Nigeria Customs Service shall inform the appointed pre-shipment Inspection
agents through the issuance of Form C 101 A in the event of a discrepancy on
duty assessed on the CRI and duty assessed by the NCS.
Payments for Customs Duties and CISS Administrative charge shall be Argentina
on the Clean Report of Inspection (CRI) without any amendment. However, the
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may with the prior permission of the Minister of
Finance assess additional duties if it is found that the duty on the CRI is not
correct. In such a case, the goods will be cleared on the assessment on the CRI
upon a guarantee for the value of the difference issued by a designated bank.
Additional duty may be imposed, therefore only after clearance with the
Honorable Minister of Finance.
The issuance of bank draft by the customer's bank and the payment thereof into
the designated bank shall be done and cleared and receipt issued by the
designated bank before the counterpart original CRI for customs purpose is
released to the importer for clearance of goods.
The bank draft for import duties must be paid to the designated banks and receipt
issued with the number of the SGD Form stated thereon before goods are
All designated banks are to open branch offices at the ports where customs duties
shall be paid.
Where the guidelines are satisfactorily implemented by importers, the Nigeria
Customs Service shall release the goods within 48 hours.