Wondering how to start an imported foods business? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Imported Food Business Essentials
More than ever before, good food is good business. American consumers can't seem to get enough of their favorite dishes and delicacies, even if it means importing them from halfway around the world.
That's good news for entrepreneurs who are interested in an imported food business startup. In theory, imported food offers several benefits for consumers and entrepreneurs. Many food items need to be imported because they simply aren't available from domestic sources. Consumers are willing to pay more for Imported food items and since international prices are typically less expensive for importers, the profit margins would appear to be astronomical.
But first-time food importers are surprised how quickly their profit margins are consumed by the unique requirements associated with imported food. In addition to tariffs and import fees, there is a high potential for spoilage, damage, and loss – not to mention the time and hassle it takes to navigate FDA requirements for imported consumables.
The key to success in the imported food business is to carefully structure both sides of the transaction. On the front end of the deal, importers need to identify sources for international food items and lay the groundwork for transporting them to the U.S. For beginners, contacting export management companies (or similar organizations) is a smart move. These firms represent international producers and facilitate the product export process.
The back end of the transaction is the recruitment of food buyers in the U.S. Wholesale distributors, independent grocery stores, restaurants, and chains represent the bulk of your buyer base. The trick is to work the back end of the deal before you work the front end. In other words, don't commit to a purchase until you have an agreement with a U.S. buyer, especially when you are importing food products with a limited shelf life.
The U.S. government has a vested interest in promoting global trade and offers several resources to enable the process. Check with the U.S. Embassies Commercial section for assistance with the import process. You should also plan to attend food-based tradeshows in the U.S. and abroad.
How to Create a Winning Imported Foods Company Business Plan
You've heard that a quality business plan is the first step toward a successful imported foods business.
Although it might seem like an unnecessary formality, your imported foods company's business plan is a document that will shape your goals and strategies on a go-forward basis.
If that's not enough, consider that business plans inoculate your business from common startup mistakes. Lacking a solid business plan, many startups find themselves rudderless and incapable of executing consistent decision making processes, while committed business planners rely on their plans to guide all of their decision making and short-term planning efforts.
Review the Competition
Well in advance of opening an imported foods business within your community, it's a good idea to find out how strong the competition is. We've provided the link below to help you get a list of local competitors in your area. Complete the form by entering your city, state and zip code to get a list of imported foods businesses that are close by.
How are you going to successfully complete with existing firms? It's important that you never underestimate the competition.
Find Good Remote Business Advice
Once you've finished assessing the competion, it's essential that you learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. If you think owners of nearby imported foods businesses will give you advice, think again. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
On the other hand, an individual who has an imported foods business outside of your community may be more than happy to give you a few tips, given that you don't compete with them in their area. Indeed, many experienced entrepreneurs enjoy offering advice to startup entrepreneurs. If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.
Do you know how to find an imported foods business entrepreneur in another community?
Simply, try our helpful link below, type in a random city/state or zipcode, and start calling.
Acquisitions vs. Startups
Unfortunately, many inexperienced imported foods business entrepreneurs approach ownership with the mistaken idea that a startup is their only option when they could also pursue a business acquisition.
Except for scenarios that require extreme innovation or highly unique value propositions, it's usually less risky to buy an existing imported foods business.
An acquired imported foods business is a known quantity; a startup is less certain because its forecasts depend on estimated outcomes. If you're diligent about finding the right acquisition prospect, you may be able to leverage a business buying strategy to rapidly propel yourself into a position of industry leadership.
Is Franchising the Right Option?
If you want to minimize your chances of failing, you ought to check into the pros and cons of franchising.
If you are thinking about opening an imported foods business, you ought to assess whether buying a franchise could alleviate your startup process.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you currently own an imported foods business, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to imported foods businesses, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
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