How To Start Up An Import-Export Business In The UK?

When it comes to the import-export world, both motivation and careful planning are of the essence. From setting up an enterprise to taking specific managerial steps, the challenge is considerable. Should anyone wish to get their international trade company started and be self-employed, here are some of the elements best being taken into account.

set up your import-export business

England import-export market

Markets nowadays are no longer delineated by borders, as they have all widely opened to international trade, making space for import-export companies to play their part. The more well-versed they are in commercial agreement dealings and regulations, the stronger the resting pillars enabling these worldwide transactions.

Carry out a market study before diving headfirst

Thorough market research is an indispensable prerequisite to setting up an enterprise. Not only does it help get acquainted with competitors and what they have to offer but moreover lets you test the waters before launching your products.


The objective is to understand what the stakes are and to determine what market segments are the most promising. To do that, there are some questions well worth asking:

  • What difficulties are other import-export companies faced with?

  • What are the most importable or exportable types of products or concepts?

  • What are the best-suited distribution channels: wholesaling from a warehouse within an industrial zone or retailing via an internet platform?

business paperwork data analysis office worker

Analyze competition

Familiarize yourself with what the market has to offer:

  • How many operating import-export companies are there?

  • What goods do they sell?

  • Where are their products from?

  • How much profit do they generate?

  • What pricing policies do they apply?

  • How many employees have they hired?

  • Where are they located?


Have a strong market positioning

As many other specialized import-export enterprises already have, ask yourself what convincing argument could have clients work with you instead: could it be your expertise in the sector or your unbeatable price policy and product quality?


The key factor for any newcomer to break into the market is to stand out and adapt to change. What better way to do so than to showcase your passion and competence?


Map out a marketing plan


After creating a branding image that appeals to a targeted audience, a solid marketing plan must be established that features all the means at the company's disposal to gather and win future clients' loyalty.


Along with setting up a dedicated website to act as a showcasing platform and utilizing all the technological tools at hand, a starting company could, for example:

  • Distribute flyers.

  • Run an emailing campaign.

  • Start an internet advertising campaign.

digital marketing plan

Self-finance an import-export business

To launch any company, let alone an import-export one, one needs start-up capital to cover the first necessary operation expenditures: legal and fiscal enterprise statuses, business premises, initial stock creation, etc.


Look for a commercial exploitation space


Location is a determining factor. Depending on the nature of the import-export business, the kinds of goods, and the destination country they are to be sent to, looking for larger commercial exploitation space in the vicinity of an airport or road network can prove tremendously helpful in easing logistics.


Set up an import-export company’s legal structure


The choice of an enterprise's legal structure is yet another element not to be overlooked, as from it, different financial and judicial responsibilities arise that define both the company and directing board's tax system and social security scheme.


Recruit qualified import-export contributors


recruiters having job interview

In the beginning, one can always tackle the work on their own, but as for any growing company, later calling for supporting personnel - administrative, juridical, commercial, etc. - is ultimately inevitable.


Whenever the time comes, and as for anything business-related, being able to define a company's workforce needs is key to managing it efficaciously: creating vacancies, headhunting, accommodating work schedules, specifying wages, etc.


Set the right price


The most widely efficient skill is probably knowing how to set the price right, as excessive pricing usually scares away buyers. Achieving a reasonable profit margin while simultaneously ensuring constant competitiveness of the product is attained by factoring in the purchase price (import duties and taxes) and strike the right balance when defining its value.


Pros and cons of import-export business in the UK


Risks are aplenty and should therefore be attentively reviewed, with the most commonly reported being: shipping delays, product deterioration, breakage, or theft. Worth being aware of as well are overstocking occurrences following the purchase of high fixed product quotas.


Fraud on quality is another infamously common dissuasive con. The farther a company is from the production plant of origin, the harder it is to ascertain that both its quality and conformity meet the requirements. Regulations sometimes differing from one country to another, it is even more complicated to engage in judicial proceedings against the accused.


For many, however, the benefit justifies the cost. Importing goods is particularly lucrative whenever they are appealingly new and different, or when a company manages to secure a territorial exclusivity contract.


Know the customs nomenclature well


First off, know that rules may vary depending on whether you participate in:

  1. Import-export dealings within the European Union.

  2. Import-export dealings with non-EU countries. In this latter case, regulations can prove stringent.

Knowing the ins and outs of customs administrative and regulatory requirements and being attuned to the trade agreements in effect is imperative.


business people at front desk

Write down a business plan


Any well-thought-out business plan aims at satisfying two core objectives. Firstly, establishing whether or not the project in itself is viable. Then, submitted it to potential funding partners.


When presenting a well-rounded project, it is all about seducing and convincing. Counterbalancing the company's need for extra funding with promising perspectives of profit always makes for a persuasive argument.


How to get an English import-export company funded?


As we have seen above, initial capital to help cover an enterprise's first operation expenses - equipment and supplies - is every business' starting point. At this stage, self-financing, meaning the personal funds available to be invested, is a company's best and probably safest bet.


Whenever things take a turn for the better, turning to banks for a loan or getting in contact with either a business angel or a private investor can make a substantial difference and truly propel a promising company.


increasing money coin stack concept

We, at Funding Routes, specialize in providing starting companies with the most up-to-date information regarding business funding options. Let us assist you in finding the deal your business requires!


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