International Business Questions And Answers

Import Export Business Question:

We are to Norwegian export agents based in Vancouver, Canada,
who would like to find potential buyers in Norway for Canadian
and American companies. Even though one of us has a bachelor
degree in International marketing & export, we still have some
questions about how things really work in the real world.

Due to our limited resources, we have just started a home-based

export business, and we think we have everything in its place now.
However, we are a little bit unsecured if we as agent need to be
responsible for the shipping of the goods and custom declaration?

Could some companies require this?

Import Export Business Answer

Even though you have a degree, I would still suggest you get a copy of
our Exporters Master Training package since it contains "real world"
information, not just theory - you may review details at:

I will attempt to answer your question below, but you should also take
several hours and visit our import export business blog at:
*** look on the right side - down a bit - to find the dated archived posts -
not all will be of interest but the majority are questions and answers
that we have received and answered over the years which will be
beneficial to you.

Now to your question - working as an agent/broker can involve you doing
everything that is part of the exporting process from taking care of the
shipping, customs, financing, etc. if that is what you agree to do or
what your client requires in order to do business.

You can also work the business (again subject to your negotiated
agreement with the supplier/manufacturer) in a manner like I do where all
I do is generate or identify potential buyers for manufacturers and pass
those qualified leads on to the supplier - upon completion of a sale to
the parties I introduce them to, I get paid a commission which is far
less than the one I could earn if I wanted to handle all the follow up
details as you have described.

Some purists would say I am a finder, some would say I am nothing
more than a lead generator and I would respond, call me what you will
but as long as they have my name or my company's name spelled
correctly on their checks, I could care less what anyone else wishes
to call me.

So bottom line, it comes down to you and the supplier and what
involvement you wish to have in the process - the more involvement,
the more you can demand in payment, the less involvement and the
you can expect to be paid less - you have to weigh the offset of the
time you spend on a deal versus what you will get paid for that time.

Hope this helps and again, I strongly recommend you and your
partners get the Exporters Master training package - it is something
you all may use and continue to use if and when you hire any employees
or take on any new partners in your business.

Good luck and I wish you success!

Ron Coble


Family owned and controlled businesses face challenges because of difficulties in passing firms on to succeeding generations of the family. Tax issues are a common problem, but the biggest challenges involve finding effective managers among the family and the needs for new capital that diminishes family control.

How family members view the company over time create problems for sustainability. Individuals who establish firms tend to view it as a business enterprise; their children tend to see it as supporting the family; and multigenerational family businesses tend see it has providing status in the community. These latter priorities can interfere with profit and reinvestment objectives and endanger long-term sustainability.

As a consequence of these kinds of factors, only about 30% of family firms are passed to a second generation and only 13% reach a third generation.

This brings us to the challenges facing media firms. Three big companies—News Corp., Viacom, and New York Times Co.— all are struggling with succession and control issues.

Rupert Murdoch, who built the News Corp. global empire after inheriting the firm from his father, is now 77 and having difficultly convincing an heir to take over. The oldest son, Lachlan, left the company three years ago and his other children, James and Elizabeth, recently declined to become his number 2. James still runs the company’s European and Asian operations, but Elizabeth prefers to run her own independent TV production company. Whether the company can remain family run in the coming years is unclear.

Sumner Redstone—who is 75 and has had strategic disagreements with many managers at Viacom—turned to his daughter Shari Redstone to help manage National Amusements, Viacom and CBS. She proved quite adept and by 2005 it was assumed that she would succeed Sumner as head of the company. The two had a serious falling out two years ago over succession and governance, however, and it is now uncertain who will lead the firm in the future. Certainly it won’t be Sumner’s son Brent, who sued him over disputes about his portion of the family business.

The Sulzberger family is struggling to maintain control over the strategic direction and operation of New York Times Co., despite the greater influence they have because of that companies preferential share structure. They increasingly have to go outside the company for capital—such as making the deal with Mexican mogul Carlos Slim—and they are continuing struggling with other major investors who are demanding more influence on company management. The family is slowly losing the automony it once had in running the company.

If solutions to succession and family control issues are not found, it is likely that these firms may have to turn to outside managers. History has show that when that occurs, family members become detached from the firm and are more likely to sell their shares and leave the business altogether.

Why We Won't Pay for News

I recently forged my way the myriad of news reports on networks, papers, and web sites and discovered lots of attention-grabbing stories:
  • Reuters had a story about the death of Mickey Rourke’ 18-year-old pet chihuahua.
  • CBS News reported on cart that transforms into a sleeping tent for the homeless.
  • Associated Press told me that Twitter was limiting message length and intending to start testing ways to make money.
  • The New York Times informed me about people walking and running in stairwells as a means of keeping fit.
  • CNN reported that Lance Armstrong’s stolen bicycle had been recovered.
  • The Los Angeles Times reported on a city council candidate criticizing a rival for being defense attorney that represented a client who was accused of shooting a sea lion four years ago.
  • ABC News carried a story on its website about efforts to produce cola containing cow urine in India.
  • MSNBC reported that Starbucks is increasing the products its offers in offers as part of an effort to improve its performance.

Interesting? Yes. Significant? Hardly. Economically valuable enough to get people to pay for the news? Never.

Therein lies the problem. Most news organizations are still stuck in the get-the-attention-of-audiences, entertain-them-with-some-news-in-hopes-they-will-attend-to-serious-news-that advertisers-pay-for mode. They complain about declining audiences and use of news, but they are doing little to add value that makes it worth consumers paying for it themselves or spending time with it.

News as commodity; news for the masses; news that is fleeting; news that doesn’t provide significant intrinsic and extrinsic value will never induce readers, viewers, and listeners to pay for it. We are already paying what it is worth—little or nothing.

Import Export Business Questions & Answers

The following is a list of Questions from someone who was considering the Import and Export business and my answers to those questions (NOTE: the questions are numbered and my answers are preceded by several asteriks)- one point of reference - I refer to "absolutes" quite a bit - giving an an "absolute" is an impossibility when it comes to starting and succeeding in a business:

AS i'm doing my due diligence search i have some questions about the import and export Business.

1. Between import and export, which one will give me a quicker result? I understand it might be up to my speed and learning ability, but give me an average: which one of the two gives better and quicker result, i know i cannot do both at the same time, i'm trying to see which one of the two that i should try first.

**** Your first absolute which I cannot provide - each business is different - each person entering these two businesses are different and bring with them different personalities, backgrounds, abilities, and resources. Personally, I feel (not an absolute) that there are more opportunities within the exporting business, especially right now with the US dollar being at historic lows - this makes our (USA) goods less expensive to buy by foreign importers.

The exporting business also offers (in my opinion) more opportunities to work it indirectly, i.e., without buying the product with your own funds or legal financial obligations. Both the course publisher and I recommend that you start out working as an export agent or broker where you match buyers to sellers, after you have an agreement with the seller to pay you a commission. In my many (almost 20) years in this business, I have not seen many (if any) similar opportunities to work the importing business as an agent or broker.

Most often in importing, you have to put money out for the goods and be totally responsible for their shipment, then the marketing, sale and shipping of those products.

2. Once i order the import or the export package for the price listed on websites, is there any other money that will come out of my pocket soon or later. I'm trying to keep up with my budget, i don't want to order either package, then later i find out that i cannot keep up with the business because i'm short on cash.

**** There is only one other resource that we offer that I recommend - a subscription to the online Export Leads service as described here:

I think you should have a dedicated fax number but that does not mean you need an extra phone line - as a bonus when you order the Exporters Master Package - I send you some agreement formats, a letterhead format and some information on resources I use in my own business, such as a dedicated fax number that emails me my faxes and only costs $34 a year (not month, a year). Beyond that would be your phone bill and I can give you the name of my long distance service if you like - I have been with them for about 8 or 9 years now because they have the best domestic and international rates I have found.

3. i'll be willing to do whatever it takes for that business to work, i have tried so many other online businesses, they were not working for me, but this one will: That's why i'm doing all the possible research before i get deeper to it. Would you tell me about how much time i will need to spend on the business (weekly).

**** Another absolute - sorry but I simply cannot give you an answer - no one can and if they do, get it in writing, signed and dated.

4. how guarantee is the business for everybody who do what they suppose to do, including research and all that. Does this Business requires for you to have luck.

**** Another word for guarantee - absolute - patience, persistence, perseverance, tenacity - all go into your ability to succeed in this business or any business - I am quite frank here, if you are looking for guarantees and absolutes, then you probably should never go into business for yourself.

5. How many transactions can you hit in a month after you get used to the business? Can you do more than one transactions at the same time?

**** Working the business as an agent or broker, I would encourage you to be working on several possible deals (if you have the time) not every (for that matter, not most) deal will come to fruition. I live in the Pennsylvania dutch area and they have a saying around here - "dont put all of your eggs in one basket" - the same goes for starting out and building your business - dont get so focused on one deal that you ignore other potentials, but by the same token, don't get spread too thin by trying to do too many. How many is too many, when you do not have time to follow up with what you need to do to see even one come to fruition.

6. is it going to take me 3 to 6 months to learn the material or is ti going to take me 3 to 6 months before i make my first cash.

**** Sorry, another absolute - too many variables are in play - you, the marketplace(s) you choose to pursue, your ability to communicate, whether over the phone or in writing or possibly in person. How can I be a judge of that? Sorry, but I will say that minimally, if you were successful on your very first deal, you would still be looking at 3-6 months before you would collect your commission from the manufacturer - simply, it takes that long for everything to process through, i.e., shipping, negotiation, customs, payment by the buyer, etc..

7. I know i'm going to have to reinvest some of my profits into the business, how would i be able to do that?

**** Working the export business as an agent or broker really does not require a lot of reinvestment - a phone, fax (which you can do with software in your computer) , fast internet connection, these are the basic tools, except for maybe this - I do recommend that if you get a manufacturer to sign you on as their export agent/broker (one of the hardest parts of the business actually) - then I recommend that you use every means possible to promote the manufacturer's products, but in a generic manner so the potential buyer(s) have to come through you to learn more. I strongly recommend you develop a web site that promotes these various products in a generic manner, under your name or your business name and use either search engine optimization or pay per click advertising to promote their products. Most manufacturers allow you to use their product pictures, etc on your web site since you are helping to promote their products, even though generically.

Hope the above Q & A's will help you make a more informed decision about the Import Export business and whether you are ready to make the investment of time and money required to get started.

Ron Coble
Coble International Business Services