Open Letter To Import Export Business Entrepreneurs

This blog contains some of the MOST VALUABLE REAL WORLD experience regarding International Trade and Ecommerce that you will find anywhere and best of all, it is FREE.

You have been directed to this post as a means of helping you make the most informed decision possible about your interest in starting an Export and/or Import business.

Quite frankly, if you will not spend hours and maybe days reading through the posts in this blog, especially ALL of the Questions and Answer posts, you really are not ready to be in business for yourself, especially international trade.

And, if bluntness offends you, you should leave now.

Over the past 4 1/2 years most or at least many of the questions I have received by email or by phone over the past 22 years in this business. My answers to those questions are posted here because it became apparent that many (or most) of these questions were the same, only from different people.

In recent months some changes have come about in our business, website and my health. Assessing these changes, I have decided to put more emphasis on the RETIRED side of the term I normally use of "SEMI-RETIRED" when describing my level of doing business.

In doing so, I also decided that if a person called or emailed questions that I would first refer them to this blog to read everything that has been posted here since most of those questions were answered in the archived posts.

Then if they are unable to find the answer to their specific question, they may come back and ask it, BUT TOO BE VERY BLUNT here, I do not intend to provide you a summary of the import or export course by phone or email when details of the course have been outlined "very" extensively on our web pages.

Also, I am NOT here to provide free coaching, mentoring or consulting - that is why we offer the course and the main courses have a ONE YEAR EMAIL consulting services for any questions that may not be answered within the course.

Before writing this post I tried to think of an analogy for the reason most people never succeed in "any" type of business and I think one came to me.

Let's say you decided to build an addition onto your house and you purchased all of the necessary plans, materials and tools to do so.

If all those plans, materials and tools are still sitting there or the addition is only 1/2 finished after one year, are the plans, tools or materials the reason it was not finished? OR, heaven forbid, would the fault be with the fact the person who had every intention of finishing this addition in 3 months, then 6 months, then 9 and 12, simply was not motivated enough to start or finish it?

If you follow my advice and read the posts within this blog, you may do so by using the links to the archives that are located on the right sidebar area linked to by Month and Year.

Ultimately, if you decide to get the international trade course offered on our website or do not, you will hopefully benefit from the REAL WORLD experience I have put into my answers to the many questions received over the past 22 years.

I will continue to post on this blog as there are still more questions and answers in my files, but again, I am entering a more RETIRED mode of my semi-retired mode of operation.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope you will find the rest of the blog helpful.

UPDATE (24 October 2010): I realized that the Month/Year Arhive links were not showing up on this page, so just go to the MAIN page of the blog either by clicking here --> or by clicking on the header title of Import Export Business at the top of the page - the Arhived Posts are then found on the right side by Month and Year.


Ron Coble
Owner - Coble International Marketing Services

TED session 12: Waging Peace

And so to the last session - as always, it's gone so fast and the combination of TED miasma, overload and sheer fatigue creates a unique altered state that takes a day or two to subside - hence the famous 'TED crash'.

Julian Assange, Whistle blower
Julian founded and runs Wikileaks, the website that invites whistle-blowers globally to send in their stuff, check it and then publishes the classified documents. This is powerful: their activity changes the outcome of the Kenyan election. They are struggling for the resources to grow (their people have to be very well qualified). The TED audience voted him a hero rather than a villain, though clearly his organisation is walking a fine line and could cause great damage as well as do great good. He seems to have a firm hand and care about this, however.

Stefan Wolff, Ethnic conflicts scholar
Ethnic conflict and civil war has declined in frequency by 30% over the last 20 years. However ceasefires are no guarantee of peace.We must have leadership, civil society, diplomacy and also well designed institutions if we are to keep this decline happening.

If we embrace complexity and use good visualisation techniques we will discover that there is clarity and simplicity on the other side. Complexity is not complication. Patterns are the guide to understanding.

William Perrin, Community activist
He is Blair's former web advisor, and lives near Kings Cross in a rough area, and (like a growing number of local communities in the UK) is using the web as a tool for community action to improve the local environment and funnel community pressure for change to the authorities. He proposed a charter for government (still locked in a post/telephone world) about the Internet:
1 make the Internet into the primary communication medium
2 train people who don't know how to use it
3 change all the institutions to make them web-compatible
Agreed - though I was sitting next to him and he could not stop accessing Twitter on computer/smartphone throughout others' talks (which is against TED rules) so he may be a little hooked on this stuff!

Mallika Sarabhai, Dancer, actor, activist
Absolutely brilliant combination of dance, acting, poetry and political message - of woman moving into her full power and glory.

Zainab Salbi, Activitst and social entrepreneur
Quote: "War is not about sound; it's about the silence of humanity." Women understand war as well as men - if not better, since they are so often victims of it and they are primary in the healing from it, often the only way hatred can be stopped from cycling through the generations through their good influence on their children. So why are women excluded from peace negotiations? We must support women if we are to have peace.

And that's it. 700 semi-conscious TEDsters with fried brains file out to go punting and say goodbye for another year. It's been a fine TED for me: some highs and lows as always, and much to absorb over the coming days and weeks. For me right now, the mushroom replacement for styrofoam, the luminous Elif Shafak, the inspiring Jessican Jackley and Sugata Mitra and the thought-controlled computer were the standouts among many great talks. 

Now to process dozens and dozens of business cards... if only there were an iPhone app to take pictures of them and get them straight into Contacts. I gather Google has such a thing on the Android so maybe it won't be long.

So long to TED until July 2011.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

TED session 11: The Tiny Blue Dot

Good news - Caroline's superb hurdy-gurdy music (from TED-U) is now linked on the TED blog here. Get some!

This session is about the planet.

Johan Rockström, Sustainability expert
There are nine 'planetary boundaries' and we have already transgressed three of them (climate change, nitrogen, species extinction). We are squeezing the planet in four dimensions at once: human growth, climate, ecosystems and the element of surprise. Slowing growth is not going to be enough: we are going to have to bend the curves downwards. A shocking stat: 25% of rivers now don't reach the ocean because we are taking the water.

Jason Clay, Market transformer
Great quote: "You can't wake a person who'e pretending to be asleep." Population x consumption must = planetary resources, and it does not. The average American consumers 43x as much as the average African. the average European cat has a bigger environmental footprint than the average African. The key to cutting our footprint is trade. 100 companies control 25% of the trade so it's realistic to change their behaviour to using sustainable resources. 40 have signed up to this already, 40 more are about to. This make sustainability a  pre-competitive issue - asking consumers to choose green will just not work.

Rachel Sussman, Artist and photographer
Rachel photographs the world's oldest living things. A 7,000 year old tree in Japan; clone aspen that's 80,000 years old; Siberian actinobacteria that are 600,000 years old. Fascinating.

Rachel Armstrong, Senior TED Fellow
We can produce technology that produces positive outputs instead of waste products - for example buildings that absorb CO2.

Ze Frank, Humourist and web artist
A brilliant and very funny talk as always - I loved the mashups/community created music he makes. 

Dimitar Sasselov, Astronomer (and hear my AudioBoo interview with him here)
The Kepler telescope has just gone into orbit and Dimitar gives us a sneak preview of the results. They have found more than 140 Earth-sized planets already, so the conclusion is that our galaxy is rich in them - probably 100 million in total. Within a year we'll have identified Earth-type planets. The other end of the bridge is synthetic biology on Earth. 

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

TED session 10: Who's The Teacher?

Sugata Mitra, Education researcher
This was a wonderful TED talk from a charming, funny and brilliant man with a great heart. Children learn to use computers on their, given space (and no teacher) - anywhere in the world. Arthur C Clarke: "Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine, should be." Groups of children (ideally pods of 3-4 on each computer) can learn without being taught to navigate the Internet and achieve defined educational objectives. Sugata shows many inspiring examples of this in India, the UK and Italy. He is setting up SOLEs (self organising learning environments) around the world, with a Granny Cloud (!!!) because he's found that children learn especially well when they can check in with a granny figure. There aqre hundreds of grannies connecting virtually with children all over the world - wonderful stuff that rewards both ends of the link! He should run the world's educational systems IMHO!

Conrad Wolfram, Mathematician
We must change the teaching of mathematics. Why do we obsess about grinding children into tedium by teaching only the boring bit (computation) when they will never use it in life - we have machines for that. The interest bits are formulating the right question, turning it into a mathematical formulation, and then interpreting the results. Computation is a necessary evil, not the 'basics'. Do you need to understand mechanics to drive a car well? Teach children to feel the mathematics. The first country to do this well will have a big advantage.

Tom Chatfield, Gaming Theorist
We can learn lessons from computer game design that we can apply in many areas of life. For example, game designers are brilliant at motivation through exactly the right mix of risk and reward - make a game too easy and people are bored, too hard they give up. Some transferable technologies: performance bars, multiple long/short term goals, rewards for effort (as well as for achievement), rapid frequent and clear feedback, an element of uncertainty, bursts of enhanced attention, peer cooperation in self-created groups.

Chris Anderson, TED curator
We are in a period of crowd accelerated innovation, courtesy mainly of YouTube. 90% of the world's Internet traffic will be video - the most natural form of communication between human beings, as it combines sound (voice), gesture and facial expression, as well as showing action. Groups of expert learners are forming and sharing and setting new standards in all sorts of activities, from skateboarding and unicycling to dance and poetry. TED is part of this, spreading ideas faster in video that text ever could. we had a revolution with Gutenberg, and this is just as big, possibly even bigger as the whole population become net contributors instead of passive consumers. Absolutely Chris - and it's strangely satisfying to see him go through what so many TED talkers have!

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

TED session 9: The Unknown Brain

Gero Miesenböck, Optogeneticist
We don't understand the brain's code and we won't get there any time soon by trying to decode millions of neural impulses. Optogenetics uses flashes of light to change behaviour, and aims to understand the resulting brain activity. Our brains control an actor (controls actions) and a critic (learns and interprets). Using light, Gero has identified the brain region of the critic in flies and believes we can in humans.

Herbert Watzke, Computational neuroscientist
We aren't omnivores - we are coctivores: animals that eat cooked food. "I cook therefore I am." We perceive five tastes, of which three are acquisitive (sweet, umami and salt) helping us to find nutritious food, and two are protective (sour and bitter), warning us of dangerour food. We have two complete brains! Our gut has a brain connected with the limbic system that manages our complex gut - 400 sqm in area, 14 m long, with 500 million nerve cells, 20 types of neurone in the gut wall. The gut brain is autonomous, manages chemical/mechanical sensing, is responsible for feelings of satiation and hunger, and controls muscle movements.

Stefano Mancuso, Plant neurobiologist
Why were there no plants on the ark?! Plants are undervalued: they have intelligence - they sleep, they even play. Their intelligence is in their neural networks, in their roots. Each root has a few hundred cells that act like neurones, and a simple plant like rye has 14 million roots... so under the plant is a sophisticated neural network like the Internet. In future we should build plant robots (so we have androids, animaloids and plantoids) where we want to do the things plants do well.

Sebastian Seung, Computational neuroscientist
A true rockstar scientist! Each of us is a connectome - the map of all the connections between all our neurones. We have 100 billion neurones. Are memories, personality, identity held in the complexity of the connectome? Neurones look like trees, and where they touch is a synapse. The map of synapses changes all the time: just thinking probably changes your connectome. The length of the wiring in our brain is millions of miles!

Fascinating session.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

Another Import Export Business Question And Answer


Hello Ron,

Thanks for the speedy response. I was referring to both actually.
I am seriously considering ordering the "Export Master Package". I am more interested in brokering the deal between buyer and seller. However, my major concern was would I be able to do it from Japan ( I will be leaving in a month). Are there any special obstacle I should be concerned with, like telephone bills, foreign address(Japan), bank accounts? Thanks in advance.





I am of the belief that if you really want to do something in life, you will find a way of getting around the perceived obstacles.

There may be better answers out there than I have for your questions and I do not
know what your situation is, are you in the military, do you still have relatives here in the states.

Basically, for foreign phone you can get a vonage or skype account. In my bonus
materials I reveal a service that I use for my fax messages that only costs $24.95
a year after the first year of $34.95 (a 10 set up fee). Faxes come in, are translated to a PDF document and are emailed to me, I can view on screen, if needed, I can print out, if not, I can file or delete - no waste of paper or $450 a year phone line.

Foreign address - if you have a relative willing to handle your mail and forward

what is necessary (mail is used so little now) with the internet and email and fax.

Bank accounts, if you are a US citizen, I doubt you are giving up your citizenship??

Open of two bank accounts for your business before you leave, look for NO Fee
accounts - have one as your main business account with checking and the other
a small or no balance required checking account for receiving wire transfers.

Where there is a WILL there is a WAY.

I would suggest ordering the exporter master package asap as it will take 3-5 days
to ship to you - our publisher is shut down until Monday, 15 June, will begin shipping again on Tuesday 16 June - they only ship on Tuesdays and Fridays - if you wait until you are in Japan, there is an additional $25 fee for shipping.

Hope the above has answered your questions and dispelled some of the
perceived obstacles.

Irregardless of what you decide, I wish you the best.

Kindest regards,

Ron Coble
Coble International - International Marketing Services
Phone: 717-292-5763

Prof Dimitar Sasselov at #TED: small planets are abundant

TED session 8: Adventures in Fairness

Tim Jackson, Sustainability Scholar
A terrific talk. We can be prosperous without growth, the endless pursuit of novelty. Driven by anxiety (Adam Smith's 'life without shame' is what we seek) we spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about! But there is another way - like the Ecosia search engine, which saves rain forest (please use or install this!) - business built on common citizenship. A new definition of prosperity is: 'flourishing as human beings within the ecological limitations of a finite planet.'

Jessica Jackley, Microlender
This slip of a girl went to Africa, realised people needed loans to kick start their businesses, came back and launched a website called Kiva to connect Western lenders with third world entrepreneurs. That was five years ago. Last year the site flowed $150 million in loans from 200 countries, crucially connecting the lenders with the businesses - they get monthly updates - and creating dialogue and relationship. Moving, inspiring and humbling. A standing ovation for this one.

Auret van Heerden, Labour Rights Activist
This man has been imprisoned and tortured for his principles, and his integrity shines through. Chocolate needs some image therapy after this TED: not only is it full of bugs, but 80% of the cocoa using child labour in Cote d'Ivoire. Worse example: the Uzbek government shockingly closes all the schools for the cotton harvest each year and the children a forced wot work in the fields. Regulatory systems don't work: the only thing that does is the contract with the Western customer company, with checking. Auret is making this happen: 4,000 companies have signed up to be part of his Fair Labor Association.

Peter Eigen, Founder - Transparency International
A great man, responsible for turning back the tide of corruption (western companies bribing corrupt third world officials). $1 trillion was paid each year in bribes, until he perdsuaded the companies in Germany to stop bribing all at the same time. (It was tax deductible until then.) He has created the Corruption Perceptions Index, which reveals the worst offenders. Transparency International is taking on oil, gas, mining - and creatin real openness.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

TED session 7: Creatures Great And Small

Bleary eyed but game we queue from 0800 and this is what we get to enjoy...

Adrian Dolby, Organic Farmer
I breakfasted with Adrian yesterday and what a charming man - he runs a huge organic farm in the Malvern Hills called Barrington Park Estate Farms. His talk is excellent.  Half a kilo of healthy soil ("the ecstatic skin of the Earth") contains 300,000 million bacteria and 10km of fungus. Organic farming works if skilled rotation is used, based on clover (naturally created nitrates). What about weeds? "We stopped calling them weeds and started calling them biodiversity" - and they found that unweakened by chemicals the crops were able to defend themselves against attacks. Very hopeful.

A brilliant TED talk. CM followed one pig through the whole process to see if it was all used after slaughter and if so how. We meet pig early in the morning in soap and toothpaste, then frequently through the day in low fat spread, concrete, train brakes, desserts, fine bone china, paint, sandpaper, beer, wine, fruit juice, collagen and bullets. Altogether 185 products, and it is all used up. Christien says we should be treating pigs like kings.

Thomas Dolby, Electronic Music Pioneer (see my AudioBoo with Thomas here and here)
A superb set from Thomas and hid band featuring three songs from his forthcoming album Amerikana, all in American roots style but with a British twist. I was beaming all the way through, especially in Toad Lickers (!). Great playing and a supreme merger between wide-eyed roots and ironic humour. Good to have him back.

Toni Frohoff, Wildlife Biologist
I totally support the content (whale and dolphin conservation) but this was not very well written or well read, so I have to admit I zoned out. Tired after too little sleep.

Marcel Dicke, Ecological Entomologist
Awake again for this one though. 80% of the world eat insects: over 1,000 species are eaten. You may go eurgh! (we all did) until a classic TED moment - Marcel reveals that you and I already eat 500g of insects every year in tomato soup, peanut butter, chocolate etc - because bits are permitted in most packaged foods. There will simply not be enough meat to supply the demand in 10 years, so we should switch to insect meat. Locust meat can be textured, and is very efficient: 10 kg of feed will produce 1 kg of meat or 9 kg of locust. He kindly supplied us with bug cookies at the break - they were delicious!

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

Marcel Dicke at #TED on eating insects!

Sound of Music at TED! (power cut so impromptu fun)

Ed Stolman interview at #TED

Thomas Dolby interview at #TED part 2

Competitive Struggles Among Television Platforms

Since the emergence of cable and satellite television services there has been struggles among platforms to increase their attractiveness to audiences and to draw market share from terrestrial television in developed nations. These struggles have had affected content producers, broadcasters, platform operators and regulators attempting to fashion socially optimal broadcasting systems.

In the first competitive struggles between terrestrial broadcasters and cable operators, broadcasters controlled the highest quality contemporary programming and cable operators primarily competed by offering a wider variety of channels and providing premium movie channels. In many locations broadcasters actively sought regulatory policies to keep their channels from appearing on cable in order to reduce its attractiveness as a competitor.

As cable matured and satellite services emerged, the nature of the struggle shifted as greater subscription and advertising revenues allowed cable networks to offer higher quality contemporary programming. In this competitive phase, terrestrial, cable and satellite operators began struggling for exclusivity of content that would drive audiences to the platforms. Gaining exclusive rights to first broadcast runs of motion pictures, sporting, musical and other events, and high quality original programs became primary goals. In this environment, producers of content and owners of event rights sought to maximize their returns across the platforms. while platform operators sought to maximize their returns by gaining market power through exclusivity. This led to negotiations based not only on transmission rights but exclusivity rights as well, which dramatically pushed up costs of some content—especially sports rights.

As cable garnered a larger audience share, broadcasters that had previously been opposed to carriage of terrestrial signals on cable because asking regulators for ‘must carry’ rules to require cable operators to carry terrestrial channels so they could have additional access to audiences or audiences in places their terrestrial signals had not previously reached. This was especially useful for advertising supported channels, both public service and commercial.

In recent years, the widespread success of cable and satellite platforms and the shift of wealth from terrestrial to other platforms has led broadcasters to demand payments from cable and satellite platform operators for carrying their channels. The newer platforms are resistent and in some nations the struggle over payments remains on-going.

The digitalisation of terrestrial, cable, satellite, and broadband platforms has now created multiple opportunities of distribution of audiovisual materials and is creating a new environment in which additional competitive struggles are taking place among platform operators. At stake are the significant potential gains from advanced paid video-on-demand services and IPTV. Platform operators—DTT, cable, satellite, and telecommunications firms that offer broadband services—are now struggling to ensure that they are not competitively disadvantaged compared to other operators. Operators that control or have high market power over platforms, especially broadband links and systems needed for advanced services or interactive DTT services, will have significant advantages in the next generation of services. Consequently, there is a great deal of effort on the part of major platform operators to acquire access to all platforms and services through ownership, alliances and joint ventures and in many cases there are outright efforts to control those platforms and servcies.

The trajectory and outcome of this competitive struggle is particularly important because it will have significant impact on the range of services and costs for services available to the public. These developments also have significant importance for the relationship between content producers and platform operators because the means of compensation is likely to evolve from current transmission rights and exclusivity rights payments to one involving revenue and profit sharing. This has significant implications to the funding and ways that contemporary terrestrial television programming is created and role of terrestrial broadcasters in the new environment.