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  • 24 Aug 2011

Importing goods from abroad can save your business a lot of money – and similarly, exporting British made goods (to places with an healthy appetite for them!) can make an excellent profit.

But if the prospect of researching the how/who/what of the import/export business seems daunting, don't worry – it’s simpler than it seems! Have a look at these top tips for successful international trading.

I'm buying! So I'll need to:

1. Do a thorough check

You need to make sure the company you're buying from is legitimate. How? Use this checklist:

- Do a reverse telephone look-ups to check the company's details against their telephone number

- Avoid companies that only use mobile numbers or free email addresses as contact information (or a dodgy looking website)

- Ask the company for bank information or business certificates

- Request references from other clients

- Get in touch with your embassy in that country – they should have access to a list of registered businesses

2. Be specific about the goods

Send diagrams, sketches or photographs of exactly what you want to buy and get them to send you samples - even if you have to pay a small amount, it's worth it. Your supplier needs to understand precisely what you expect and how they can meet your needs.

3. Safe payments

Don't send money directly to the supplier. Always use a safe international payment system that will offer you some protection if there's a dispute over the goods.

I'm selling! So I'll need to:

1. Consider the cash flow

It's likely to take longer to see your money if you're exporting your products abroad - so do consider the time it takes for the product to be shipped to its destination, and plan your budget accordingly.

2. Taxes and Excise

You are responsible for ensuring that you pay the correct duties, taxes and excise on anything you export. Find out what you need to pay before you begin trading and make sure these costs are factored into your pricing.

3. Grants and Funding

There are a number of enterprises which offer funding and grants to companies who export so take some time to do some research into what might be available to you.

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