A primer for the businessperson on the go: Importing

The 2016/17 tax year was a tough year in many respects. Political and economic uncertainty loomed large in the public consciousness, and while at the end of the year predictions for future continue to vary, directors must plan for the future as best they can, says Ade Potts, from Experian SME. 

Business is about creating opportunities that weren’t there before, and opportunities are out there. For the SME with growth on their mind there are new avenues to explore to make the most of their business skills and resources. Here is a look at how a small business can boost its prospects.

Finding international suppliers

Sometimes you are searching for a particular something. Customers might want handmade paper, Italian leather, French fashion, or Spanish sausage – things that you can’t always source in the UK at the price you want. If you want to purchase any goods or services outside the UK then you will be an import business. With this come a number of advantages, such as wider choice and potentially lower prices. Of course there are also risks and considerations that you will want to look at such as managing relationships with long distance clients, which may be tricky as relationships cross borders, time zones and continents.

Finding international suppliers needn’t be any more difficult than finding suppliers in the UK. As with any key business decision, one just needs to prepare and plan carefully. Here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge into international waters…

Why will you become an importer?

First off, is to be sure you can answer the question, why do you want to import? There are a number of reasons that businesses might decide to import. Possibly for better prices, or for goods which aren’t available here. It’s important to consider the goods, place of origin and how customers perceive them both, before undertaking potentially costly deals.

Dealing with experienced suppliers can be pretty straightforward and so not take much time. However, if you want to work with less experienced clients then you may find you need to allow more time to work with them on the logistics and paperwork.

Finding suppliers

There are a number of ways to find international suppliers. One option is to attend international trade fairs and shows for your particular niche. This will allow you to network with potential suppliers and to learn more about what they do. Well known auction sites also offer similar services.

Before formalising an agreement with any international supplier, there are a number of checks and considerations you should go through. Price will often be a key factor so don’t forget to take into account any additional costs that might be incurred depending on the distance and regulations of the country you’re importing from. You should also ensure that the supplier themselves are reliable.

A good place to start is by checking their credit profile and history. Understanding the financial risk or otherwise an overseas partner could reduce your exposure to bad debt and cash flow issues.  You can proactively mitigate any concerns and make decisions with confidence – whether that’s setting appropriate credit limits or payment terms.

This article appears on freshbusinessthinking.com