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Import Specialist Business Idea

Your fascination with all things international can lead you to a great home business as an import specialist.

The U.S. Department of Commerce says that we import a staggering $1.2 trillion in goods each year.


Usually imports fall into one of three categories: products we can’t produce locally, goods that can be made more cheaply elsewhere and items that are special by their actual international quality (think Swiss chocolates).

What Is An Import Specialist?

An import specialist is a matchmaker of sorts, who works with wholesalers in foreign countries and arranges for their goods to come into the U.S. to be sold. The specialist receives a commission for making the match and arranging for the transfer to go smoothly.

If you are persistent and enjoy the sales quality of the work, this could be an excellent career, and even a home based business, because it requires minimal overhead or inventory. You will have to develop trade leads by finding businesses in other countries that have products you believe will sell well in yours.

You’ll court them and try to establish a relationship, which will hopefully lead to them agreeing to export their goods to you.

You will also have to find a buyer who is equally excited about acquiring these goods to sell.

Exporting goods is also big business, and as you become more experienced, you can learn how to start an import export business. Americans export $772 billion in products, the Commerce Department reported. Surprisingly, the majority of exporters were smaller businesses.

If you find businesses that are interested in branching out internationally, you can use your expertise to help seal the deal.

How to Get Started with Your Import Specialist Business

Experts agree that it certainly helps if you have previous import/export experience. An international business background and foreign language ability are also extremely helpful. Although certification is not necessary for this field, it may be helpful to look for classes in schools or online for international merchants.

The U.S. Department of Commerce also has information under the International Trade Administration ( website.

There are two critical first steps to take that will get you started:

First, start to network with everyone you can. You are trying to develop trade leads, and you will need to develop as many contacts as possible. You’ll need to find businesses that suit your needs on both ends, and you’ll need to find freight forwarder to handle your shipments. Consider using online networking sites such as to build your contact list.

Second, find out as much about international business as you can. Once you’ve focused on the countries that you want to import from or export to, follow news about them closely.

As you develop contacts, you will need to do a significant amount of correspondence to introduce yourself and your proposal to foreign businesses. Be sure to understand their culture and business etiquette.

Continue to build your foundation, and before long, you’ll need to start a consulting business to help other people achieve success as well.

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