Monday, May 26, 2008

International Trade Questions And Answers

Question:

I have read through you info on this site and found it very informative.

In regards to due diligence as well as doing the checks by cold calling and checking their website, is there a pack which I should put together to ensure the least risk possible.

Any pointers in the right direction would be much appreciated as these people can seem very trustworthy and I myself or employees of mine can have a set procedure in place to make sure we have covered ourselves as well as we possibly could.

Answer:

I am not aware of a 'package' of details that you can check, except for the resources we have compiled on our company page at: http://www.importexporthelp.com/company.htm which you and your employees are free to use any time - just scroll down the page until you see the "Due Diligence" sub-title.

These are not all that are available, I am sure, but if you follow that list you should be able to find any negative details on someone, if there are any on record.

I am not sure if you are in the USA or not, but the US has a program through their embassies that you can pay a couple of hundred dollars to have the embassy rep do a background check on the potential importer.

Another thing you can do is ask for references of other businesses they have dealt with and then actually contact those references. I know of one supplement manufacturer who would not even bother following up a lead if they would not provide them with at least one reference.

You will want to cross reference the reference also to make sure you aren't calling the guys brother or brother in law who is in on the deal with him.

Last, confirmed letters of credit (LOC) are about the safest way to go when it comes to payment, but they are often very difficult to get and much more expensive than regular LOC's.

Ultimately there are no guarantees of keeping you from getting ripped off. I have personally talked with several exporters and importers who had worked for some time with their buyers/sellersin smaller quantity orders. Then a larger order comes in and they end up never getting paid for it or if they are the importer, they send the money and never receive the merchandise.

This last type of deal is the old confidence game where they use small orders to gain your confidence, pay for them up front or shipthem right away and then hit you with a big order which is never paid for and you can never seem to find the person in their office at any time.

It is an unfortunate fact of business life (and personal) that you have to approach every transaction as if it is a fraudulent one and be very firm in your requirements of the other party.

Fraudsters are everywhere - in every country - unfortunately much of the scams come from the very countries that need legitimate trade the most and they are in Africa.

Many (not all) people have come to realize Africa is the main origin for the fraudulent activities so many of the fraudsters have now resorted to faking emails and other correspondence with actual names of legitimate companies in China or India.

The fraudsters will use the actual graphics or letterhead from a legitimate company but place their (the fraudster's) email or phone number (which is usually forwarded) in the correspondence.

Another fraudster technique is to use a color copier to duplicate an actual money order or cashiers check from a legitimate bank. Looks legit, you deposit it, have the goods shipped only to find out about 3-4 weeks later when you get a call from the bank telling you it has been returned. Guess what - it isn't the bank's responsibility and they will take you to court, if necessary, to get the funds from you.

Your qualification requirements have to be so firm that most fraudsters will consider them not worth the effort and crawl back under the rock from which they came - these strict requirements may cost you a real transaction from time to time but it is better to walk away.

Fraudsters know most companies and individuals are desperate to make a sale and they use this against you. If a deal seems too good to be real - it is. If you ever run into a deal that you just can not seem to resist but would like my input, feel free to call me and tell me the details without revealing who the party is and I will be happy to give you my opinion.

In most instances, you will probably not like my recommendation but you always have the final decision.

Hope this has helped and I wish you the best.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

International Trade Questions And Answers

Question 1:

In your import course do you offer a CD so we can modify forms like letters, invoices, etc with our own company name?

Answer 1:

The import course materials do not.

We, Coble International and ImportExportHelp.com, do provide an unadvertised Bonus that will be sent to you via email after you advise us that you have received your course - these bonus resources include Word formatted, easily modifiable agreements, letterhead and some recommendations on business resources that can save you up to $500-$600 a year (actual resources we use in our business).

Microsoft Word contains Invoice formats, it is of little use taking up valuable CD Rom data space putting something on it that your computer most likely already has available within programs like Word or other word processing program.

If you do not have Microsoft Word on your PC, I strongly urge you to get it - best word processing program around.

Question 2:

Do you offer any money back gurantee in case we are not 100% satisfied with your products?

Answer 2:

I could go into a "long" dissertation about why we do not offer refunds but I will try to keep it short.

1. We outline "exactly" what you are getting with our materials, when you make a purchase from our web site, you have already made a conscious decision that you are happy with what is listed there.

2. We have experienced well over $350,000 in fraudulent orders in the last 7 years - I got tired of keeping inventory on hand and dealing with the credit card companies and about 3-4 years ago decided to take "less" money and let our publishers deal with the credit card company issues. Our publishers do not offer refunds, therefore, we cannot, and do not offer refunds.

3. Last, I will close out my reply by providing you with the comments from one of the oldest marketing experts that I have known now for nearly 20 years and his response to the question of a money back guarantee or option - his name is Jim Straw and with over 40 years of business experience under his belt, I firmly believe and agree with his stated case against offering refunds:

Here is Jim Straw's Comments on refunds:

Since I sell "information" ... not "opportunities" ... nowhere in any of our sales material do we offer any kind of Money-Back option.

Why? ? -- Because...

(1) We are not a lending library. -- If you want to borrow a book, we recommend a visit to your local public library. We do not lend our publications.

(2) We cannot erase your memory. -- Once you have read and made mental note of the information provided in our publications, there is no way you can return it to us. Even if you return the printed material; or delete the PDF file from your hard drive, you still have the information in your memory for your ultimate use.

By not including a Money-Back option; of any kind, in our sales material, we intentionally discourage people who are seeking a ‘guaranteed’ existence from buying our publications.

Over the past 40 years, I have literally made millions, upon millions, of dollars "doing" the things I have written about - and - other people have made millions, upon millions, of dollars doing what I teach in my materials.

May I suggest that you "use" the information in the materials you purchased to achieve the success you have been seeking ... and ... I am always here to assist you in your efforts anytime you run into a situation you don't understand. -- REMEMBER, I have done it ... not just written about it ... so I can steer you in the right direction.

If I were to give you a refund, I would only allow you an excuse to quit ... delaying your success, again.

*** end of Jim Straw's comments on refunds ***

In closing, you now know why we do not offer a money back option and if that keeps you from ordering, well, so be it. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Import And Export Business Q&A Continued

Question:

Can you guide me as to where I could find more information on regulations for export to Mexico? We are a US company that would be shipping within the U.S. The product would then be sold in Mexico by the customer.

Answer:

We do not provide consulting of the nature you have requested. My suggestion for either you and/or your customer is that they get our course on exporting - it will guide you/them through all the processes and provide details on which public/private organizations you need to contact with regards to specific products for the specific regulationsand requirements regarding those items - you may review details of the course here and feel free to forward this message to your client:
http://www.importexporthelp.com/trdspm1.htm

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Question:

I know you don't need a certificate to start a business but regarding the commission fees, is there a difference regarding the income of an agent compared to a broker on the same transaction(connecting seller to buyer) or is it just a title difference? Are there certain income the broker can make that the agent can't just because one has the license? I'm seriously thinking of starting the business, but I just need to do a bit of research according to your advice on the blog.

Answer:

In regards to the "title" - that is all the difference there is - whatever you choose to call yourself. I have been referred to in agreements as the International Sales Coordinator, International Marketing Consultant, Export Agent, International Business Broker - bottom line is, I don't care what they call me as long as they have my name or my business name spelled correctly on their checks.
You also refer to the term "license" - the only licensed individuals in import export are "Customs Brokers" and they are not working as agents/brokers for the manufacturer and earning a commission, they get paid to make sure all the i's are dotted, t's are crossed on any documentation and sometimes provide other shipping related assistance. Our course will teach you who you need to work with to get the deals done without trying to do it all yourself.


Follow Up Question From The Same Person:

Thank you for your clear explanations. I was probably confused between a broker and a Custom Broker.

I have one last question and I hope you don't see it as being too straight forward. Can you tell me why I should choose your product over other Starter Kits($400 range), classes plus support, books/notebooks (Entrepreneur.com), e-books, import/export coaching, CD-roms, DVDs and etc.?

Answer to Follow Up Question:

There are a lot of good materials on the market and I have probably purchased or reviewed most of them over my 20 years in this business. First off, I would be very, very wary of any "coaching" programs or those that offer what I call hand holding "support" - I have written enough about these type of programs on my import export business blog that I will defer you to go find them and read why.

In most instances, the "support"/"coaching"/"hand holding" personnel will be doing nothing more than reading from the same hand book they supply you with and in most instances these hand holding sessions can be quite expensiveright up front to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Our course provides you with all the information, much of it proprietary from our publisher, that you will need to follow in order to start and succeed in your own import or export business. Do we guarantee you will succeed - absolutely NOT!

I did not start this business to sell information products or training, I started it because in the late 80's the Internet was not readily available - yes, AOL was and I was one of their first 100,000 customers. I started it because I spent hundreds of hours visiting the library, visiting with actual importers and exporters, visiting with international bankers, department of commerce personnel, buying various materials that turned out to be such a waste of time and money it was unbelievable.

In getting started I found some very unique and incredibly helpful information and thought I wonder if others would be interested in saving all the time I spent if I would put this information together in the form of a couple of reports. Low and behold, they were.

I found this course in the early 90's (it has been updated about every 2 years since but still includes some very valuable proprietary info like the one video that was co-sponsored by the US Dept. of Commerce - it still is one of the best resources around).

I have been sent books, CD's, access to web sites and more in those subsequent 15 years and in regards to actual training programs, the "only" change I have made is the addition of the China Trading program about 18 months ago. I did so because it is not competitive with the import export training course and is a uniquely different niche within the international trade business.

I do not want to sway you from the direction you are headed to the China trading program, I am just making you aware of what and why I only offer a very narrow, targeted group of materials.
I also have become good friends with the publisher of the import export courses over these years because I know he has integrity. An example of which was with a recent customer. Their course was just shipped to them about 2 weeks ago and one of the ebooks was updated just a few days ago - he emailed them a copy of the new version since they had just purchased the course a few weeks ago.


Additionally, there are a "few" bonus items I send you when you get certain packages through our web site - the publisher has encouraged me to publish these items as an ebook and try to sell them but I decided to keep them special and only give them to people who get either our Importers Master package, Exporters Master Package or the combo of these two, the Import Export Toolkit. I feel anyone purchasing these complete packages are far more serious and I would rather have my information in their hands rather than everyone's.

So the bottom line is this, yes, there are a few good resources on the market and you don't need to 2nd mortgage your home to get started in this business and in most instances you will not be getting answers from someone who is doing what you hope to do as you are getting this correspondence from me.

One of the reasons I am working so late is because I just signed on a new manufacturer today and I am compiling some leads to send them over the weekend.

I guess a lot of what you have to base your decision on is that gut feeling of who do you trust - I have put my life out there on the web site and blog, my information is "easily" verifiable, is theirs?

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Ron Coble
International Trade B2B Help Center

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Import Export Business Questions-Answers Continued

QUESTION:

I am writing to confirm that I have gone through all your letters. They're really enriching. I didn't know where I would have gotten all these info. Thanks a million.

Let me be frank with you. I am an industrious person who has been in China for the last four years. I've seen a great deal of business. I've understood that the best way to 'cut my own share of the international money' is getting into trading business. However, I got a big problem. That problem of kick-starting a company on my own. You know; the protocol and finances needed to own my own licences etc.

I need your expertise advice here. I have got the money to subsribe as a paid member to your site. I understand that after subscription I wouldn't be able to count the number of customers knocking on my door. Now, without all necessary paperworks such as licence. How can I go about this business? Or is it the only way?

ANSWER:

First, I cannot advise you on what or how to operate a business in China.

My advice would be, since you write very good English, that you hire yourself
out to Chinese companies to help promote their products as an Export Agent/Broker
but also get yourself on payroll (to help carry you over until commissions start coming in) to
translate or prepare their correspondence, advertising, etc..

I know there is great difficulty in interpreting correspondence to English and many Chinese
companies use online translation programs that are next to worthless.

In regards to the services we offer, we really do not have a membership site. The export leads service may be of some benefit but it too is run by one of the many publishers we deal with.

I am not sure this has provided you with any assistance, but I hope it does and I wish you the best in whatever you decide to pursue.

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QUESTION:

Finding your website and customer service assistance has been very helpful in getting me in the right direction to how I will consider starting up my business. I want to import products from china through an import service, although I am skeptical about how much profit do the importing companies makes off of me and is it more or less then me importing the goods myself? Do the import companies get the products for cheaper then I could? In the world of business its all about knowing people and having this opportunity to ask you questions is very much appreciated as well as the access to your website.

ANSWER:

A couple of things I would really recommend to you, if you are just getting started with Importing goods.

1) Do market research on the products you are considering - just because you like something does not mean others will like it or wish to buy it from you at a price that allows you to make a profit. There is a market research tool that is built into a program I will recommend to you later that is very well regarded as being one of the best, if not the best, market research programs available.

2) If the price an importing company or company that has already imported the product is reasonable enough for you to make a decent profit, then why concern yourself with how much market they are making? Especially in the beginning. They have family's to feed and bills to pay like we all do and are going to mark up what they import at a rate the market will bear.

When you are educated and prepared to take on the responsibilities of importing the goods yourself and at the much higher quantities they most likely have to buy, then do so, but the importers serve a much needed purpose for which they deserve to profit for their time and efforts and most of all "risk".

3) Once you have decided to buy and import products on your own, you should really get a copy of our Importing business course. Don't do like so many people do who end up calling after they have got themselves into a mess because they did not invest in a "real" course that teaches them the processes and acts as a resource library for them to refer to during their entire business career.

Here is the link to our Importing Business Course

4) Now, as an alternative to getting started and working with verified importers and being able to perform the market research you need to be successful, I am recommending you start with this service and only "after" you have established a market for products should you consider getting our importing course and trying to import on your own.

Visit the following web site, take in all the videos and information they have there and do some searches as a guest for the products you are considering. See the verified Importers they have who make these products available and then decide if you wish to subscribe to gain direct access to them and their unique marketing research tools: http://www.importexporthelp.com/redir/odssd.htm

I hope the above suggestions will help you.

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The above questions and answers represent actual emails received at our Import Export Help Center web site. You are encouraged to read the Archived posts to this blog as there are many Questions and Answers. We will continue to post until all Q and A's are published here and all new ones will then be posted shortly after the actual exchange.

Ron Coble
International Business Marketing Services

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

More Import Export Business Questions & Answers

Question: Where can I find products for resale on eBay?


Answer: It's pretty easy to find suppliers on the Internet. The trick is finding RELIABLE suppliers. One site I like is called ThomasNet.com - this is the online or Internet version of the BIG GREEN directories that most major libraries have in their reference sections. It is Free to use the online version at your PC or call your library and ask if they have a Thomas Register in their reference section and then go visit and see how massive it is and recall that this is all I was able to use when I started because there were so few resources on the Internet at that time (yes, I am that old)

Another resource you may consider is found at: http://imexhelp.worldbid.com/index.htm - you may review their system at no cost but if you decide that there are suppliers you wish to contact, you will have to subscribe.

There are also many country-specific sites where you can identify suppliers of inexpensive products you can market on eBay and elsewhere. In addition to trade directories on our web site, we also offer a how-to product that includes an extensive listing of resources and contacts for anyone wanting to import.


Question: Is it hard to import products?


Answer: These days it seems the entire world is a market full of people and companies buying and selling products. And thanks to the Internet, it's easier than ever. Frankly, the belief that importing is difficult can cut down on your competition for these inexpensive products. It's true, there are a few more steps involved when importing but the returns can be pretty impressive. What you really need to do it right is a good how-to road map. There are many books that explain how to import and we offer a very comprehensive computer (CD Rom) based training package for entrepreneurs who want to be importers at our web site.


Question: What kind of imports seem to sell well on eBay?


Answer: Make sure you're not selling junk. For instance, you
can get some great bargains on inexpensive luggage from China and Southeast Asia but the simple fact is that name- brand products seem to sell better on eBay than generic anything.

It's also important -- and this is especially important in all aspects of international trade -- to do your research. Let's say you've found some adorable teddy bears you think would be very attractive on eBay. Okay. Do a search on teddy bears and see what you find.

You'll probably learn fairly quickly that there are an awful lot of items for sale that include the words "teddy bear" but have nothing to do with the bears themselves. Many of the most popular teddy bears are antiques or collectibles but there are niches across the board in terms of price and quality. This applies to everything from teddy bears to socket wrench kits. You've got to do the research to know for sure.

By the way, exporters -- that is, people who sell products from the U.S. to other countries -- can also take advantage of eBay. Exporters use eBay this way: They simply include a link to one of their eBay auctions at their website or in an email to their list of overseas buyers. Some exporters buy low-cost imports at eBay auctions and resell them in foreign markets. Just make sure of your market and its interest in your product before making a major buy. I offer a how-to package on exporting that is very popular and can show you some other ways to trade in exports.

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