My opinion is that you should keep your eyes on the market first and look for the product which you might deal with in the future. Most importantly, you should have enough information of the factories before looking for customers.
Why not start out small first. there is no better way to get the feel and experience of trading than to start selling small on an auction site! This is where you build up experience in the real world very cheaply.
As with everything it is sometimes better to find like minded people who can walk you through the processes.
Try looking at a group like http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WholesaleBuyers, who are small retailers split buying at bulk prices from wholesalers, this should give you an edge, they have research, they have hot product lists and they are real auction site sellers....get some experience on a small scale like this first!
I see this 'yahoo' group are everywhere.... : )
Import/export are among the easiest business to start with, since you need no capital (maybe a little for the hardwares), more like a SOHO.
BUT, you have to have really good local contacts first before you going to import/export, sure, finding a manufacturers, wholesalers and sell them to the market you are in sounds easy in Alibaba, but you got to know your resources, your channels and how much you need to invest when situations requires you to hold stocks.
My suggestions is, like everybody said up there, get to know your market, see only price and market when you saw a product, always try to buy your 'things' through a wholesaler around you, not just walk into several shop and think you got the best prices, then you are almost there.
Becoming an export/import agent sound all very rosy where you become agent for companies. Get them export orders and get a nice commission pie.
Never try to become a commission agent as after years of experience you will find the problems of sampling, marketing costs, bad delivery by supplier coming on to your head and costing much much more than the commissions you are calculating now.
Something like you choose bosses for whom you will work like an export manager job 24X7 and make losses out of it.
The best way to do it to charge a nominal monthly retainer fee to cover all your costs and a nominal commission towards your profits.
I am sharing the same sense with the writer that i am on the brink of setting up an international trade company on agricultural products since i've been living in Turkey where half of the population is involved in agricultural sector.As known that here are uncountable oppurtunuties for trading of agricultural products.What i would like to say is that i have some connections with growers and a good comments of agriculture sector in Turkey but do not have trade experience!I can contact with the writer or other relevant persons by depending on his/her position in the sector.
Quoting from [Rohit]:
I want to start Import/Export commission agency business. can you pls advise how to start.
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I personally think that all agents should come under one roof and form one association for better trade better. If " Paid Agents/Paid Reps" and "Marketing Consultants" are interested in forming a trade union, they can email. Free trade agents who work on only "Commission Basis" to kindly excuse.