How to start an import export company

Starting a new import export company, or expanding your existing hustle, can be daunting.

The best way to tackle the task is with a step-by-step progress plan.

We’ve made tracking your progress to international trade success easier by creating a to-do list of big and small tasks you can tick off and celebrate along the way.

Concept phase

Research phase

  • Test samples

  • Get honest feedback from a wide variety of people.

  • Do competitor analysis and identify your unique selling point (USP)

  • Double check that your brand concept and USP resonate with your target market.

  • Research labelling requirements, regulations and taxes on the product

    To determine the import-export regulations and taxes on your product, you will need its tariff code.

    With this you can identify import duties and export duties that may affect you.

    Read up on regulated imports and exports that require special permits.

    Regulations on medical, health, nutraceutical and veterinary products are particularly strict. Consult our regulatory services page for more information on what your product requires.

  • Do costings to calculate selling price, potential profits, and viability

    Use our landed cost calculator to ensure you factor in all expenses.

  • Identify service providers for shipping, customs clearance, label printing, marketing, distribution etc

    We can assist with connecting you to freight services at competitive rates.

Action phase

About the author

Frieda-Marié de Jager

With a degree in design from CPUT, Frieda-Marié started her career in digital and content marketing in 2013. Since joining Import Export License in 2019, she’s created several e-books, guides, blog posts, and newsletters on international trade. On weekends you can find her building Lego with the family, walking her beagle, or whipping up a storm in the kitchen.