Running an import/export business can be an exciting and profitable way to capitalize on national and international demand. To ensure your business is successful, you need to develop a tailored strategy and have an inclusive understanding of the industry. Here are some essential import/export business ideas to consider for your small business.

1. Become a Customs Broker

Becoming a customs broker requires having a thorough understanding of both international trade and the regulations imposed by US Customs & Border Protection (CBP). As a customs broker, you’ll provide services such as facilitating the transportation and filing of documents for individuals and businesses importing goods into the US.

2. Offer Contracting Services

Contracting services involve providing businesses with a range of services related to compliance and documentation required for an import/export business. Services may include consulting, filing paperwork, shipping logistics, and providing legal advice on taxes, tariffs, and other regulatory requirements.

3. Become a Courier Service

Courier services are used by individuals and companies to send documents or shipments between countries. As a courier service, you’ll provide shipping and tracking services.

4. Become an e-commerce Executive

E-commerce executives are responsible for connecting buyers and sellers around the world. You’ll consult with and advise clients on the necessary compliance and documentation for international trade.

5. Create Online marketing Strategies

Create an online marketing strategy to promote your import/export business. This may include:

  • Developing a website to showcase your products and services
  • Using SEO to optimize your online presence
  • Engaging in social media campaigns to reach a wide audience
  • Creating content to educate customers on import/export regulations
  • Using email marketing to nurture customer relationships and offer discounts.

6. Offer Shipping Services

Shipping services involve picking up products in one location and delivering them to another. You could offer a variety of shipping services such as air, sea, or ground shipments.

7. Become a Trade Finance and Risk Assessment Expert

Trade finance and risk assessment specialists provide services such as assessing trade and industry risk related to an import/export business. They also help to identify suitable financing options and create the required documentation.

8. Provide Logistics Support

Offer consulting services to help businesses plan their international logistics strategy. This may include identifying the best shipping routes, selecting the most cost effective carrier, and providing advice on the necessary customs paperwork.

9. Help Businesses with International Compliance

The import/export industry has a range of regulations that businesses must abide by. Offer consulting services to businesses to help them understand and comply with applicable laws.

10. Become a Cross-Border Expert

As a cross-border expert, you’ll provide advice to businesses on different aspects of international trade. This may include negotiating freight rates, assessing international tax implications, and helping clients to understand the regulations and procedures involved in importing and exporting goods.


Running an import/export business can be an exciting and profitable venture. The tips provided above will give you a starting point for developing a successful small business. Research the industry, develop your strategy, and take advantage of innovative technologies available to ensure your business is successful.