If you have little or no capital but you want to do big international business; if your small business is not doing so well; or your capital is low, why don’t you turn to the Internet? The Internet is the fastest and most efficient method for the newcomer and the struggling businessperson to become an international broker of goods and services.
To start, you may order directories your trusted directory of importers; but they are not absolutely necessary: importers can be found on the business portals too.
My favourite importer’s directories are Interdata’s International Directory of Importers, and of
Agents, Distributors and Wholesalers. (Visit Interdata online: http://www.export-leads.com). Both feature firms worldwide with company information, contact person, telephone and fax numbers, email address, products handled, bank reference, and much more. With the purchase of a directory, you receive a year’s free subscription to an internet site giving you access to global export sales leads.
Since you will conduct your business on the Internet, an email address and Internet connection are a must. If you don’t yet have an email address, you can get one for free from popular sites such as hotmail (Visit Hotmail online: http://www.hotmail.com) and yahoo (Visit Yahoo online:
http://www.yahoo.com). I prefer yahoo because one gets 1 GB of storage space. That is ideal for your business considering the amount of messages and attachments you will receive. As for an
Internet connection, if you cannot afford it, libraries give you free access to theirs simply by possessing their cards. A telephone is also necessary and a fax number will be an advantage. If you can have a website, that will be a big plus.
Now to the nerve of your business: making contacts with importers, agents, distributors and wholesalers and getting suppliers on the business to business (B2B) portals. Your importer’s directories will allow you to contact prospects in your country or area. It is better to start with businesses nearby before broadening out. If your presentation is professional, you should receive positive answers. B2B portals like alibaba, indiamart, ec21 and bidmix will enable you contact suppliers worldwide. (Visit them online respectively at http://www.alibaba.com, http://www.indiamart.com, http://www.ec21.com, and [http://www.bidmix.com]). They are free to join and their marketing tools can help you promote your business online.
Let’s use alibaba to explain the system. Open the homepage http://www.alibaba.com. Click on the link Join Free and supply your details. Submit and you become a member of what Forbes Magazine and Alexa.com respectively rank as “Best of the Web” and “N° 1 B2B website.”
Do you want to buy? Then search and browse the industry category homepages for products classified into categories; contact suppliers; or post buying trade leads which will enable sellers to contact you directly.
Are you a seller? Then browse the site to find buyers in the rich database; you can also let buyers find you by publishing your product information in the Want to Sell channel; you can also send quotations direct to buyers by clicking the Send Quotation button; but at best become the first choice of buyers.
How? By paying US $349 a year, you become a TrustPass member. Your Trust Pass profile proves to potential business partners that you are authentic and credible. The service allows you to have a product showroom where you give detailes of your products. You can also have a company details page which presents an introduction to your business.
Another useful marketing tool you can use is Trade Alerts. It is efficient, fast and productive. But
be warned: offers will flood your inbox daily and you must really have the time to answer them.
Success stories abound on the B2B websites. Personally I have been able to have business partners on all the continents and have done business beyond my expectations. An Indian
manufacturer of designer wear wrote on indiamart, the gateway to the Indian market, “We regularly get emails from satisfied customers all over the world.” On alibaba we read from an American supplier: “We got 45 buyers in 3 months. The reward is many times worth the expenditure;” a broker from Mainland China raved: “I feel now that business isn’t difficult after all, why didn’t I know of this site before?;” A south American member praised: “We received regular orders from Hungary, China, Taiwan, UK. Our first order was worth US$ 160,000;” and a European businessman says he is “stunned by the 1,823 % online sales increase. The Internet is great.”
With the Internet never have business opportunities been so wide and so near: just at the click of a mouse. But beware of the dangers of doing business on the net. Some of them are phoney and unscrupulous businesspeople, scam artists who will try to defraud you, and malicious people who will cram your box with virus-infested mails. Your ability to sidestep these pitfalls will also largely determine your success on the net.
Broker: a businessperson who acts as intermediary between a seller and a buyer for a commission.
Trade Leads: a request to traders to send you offers or quotations.
Trade Alerts: a request to the website search engine to email you offers or quotations.
Tips for business success: Not all businesses succeed. But if you respect certain fundamental rules,
yours can. Among others, you must embrace your business wholeheartedly; have the will to succeed;
display perseverance, self-confidence, organizational spirit, honesty and integrity. Knowledge is
success: get help to run your business from organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce; study
with business schools in your spare time or through distance education. Also read widely on business
creation, sales, advertising, management and organization and attend training seminars.
My name is Akoli Penoukou. I was born in Lome-Togo (West Africa) in 1953. I went to school in Ghana (West Africa) up to the high school diploma level. I taught French there for one year and then returned to Lome to work. From there I went on “adventures” in Nigeria (West Africa) and Germany. Back home in 1983 I began my business career.
This began with a West German import and export company which represented major German manufacturers like Henkel cosmetics in West Africa. I started as Executive Secretary and ended up five years later as Manager. Then I founded my own company in 1987 which I ran part-time. The activities of the firm having increased dramatically in three years, I diversified into imports and exports. The brokerage business and trade representation constitute the main thrust of my buinsess now.
I have trained as a freelance writer for children and adults and have published in newspapers and magazines such as “Aim” and “Clubhouse” in America.