Starting a business is something many people find terrifying, and they would have a pretty valid point.
I’ve watched friends launch a few projects of varying size, and each brings with it a unique set of problems. One that seems to stand out from the bunch is the business of importing and exporting, because with so much red tape to leap through, who really knows what’s cracking?
Some estimates say that 70% of startup businesses in South Africa will fail in the first year, and that often has much to do with a lack of understanding of something as important as freight logistics.
Let’s look at a list of the three biggest mistakes companies make, which is essential reading if you’re starting out in the game.
Mistiming an import or export
Properly timing a shipment can be tricky for the inexperienced. This is why mistiming an import or export is a common international shipping mistake, especially for first time shippers.
A common situation new shippers find themselves in is getting a freight rate quote, waiting, and then trying to set up the shipment only to find their freight rate quote has expired.
Failing to properly insure goods
Damaged or stolen goods happen. Ships crash, modern piracy exists and is quite strong in some waters, temperatures can go up into triple digits and fall below freezing on the same voyage, cargo gets jostled, falls overboard…
Stuff happens. That’s why cargo insurance is important.
I remember Seth telling us about his Malawi Cane business. He uses Berry & Donaldson for his shipping and if it wasn’t for their advice and insurance insistence, he would have had quite a problem in Morocco.
Apparently a full container of Malawi Cane chairs was dropped into the ocean by a crane in Casablanca. Berry & Donaldson didn’t blink, and next thing you know Seth was sending another container full of chairs – with the whole process handled by his freight forwarding partners.
Going with the cheapest freight rate possible
This is a mistake that really gets people.
Whether you’re a businessperson out to make the best profit you can, or a frugal person shipping your household goods to another country so you shop around, don’t just pick the lowest freight rate you can find and go with that.
The rate, while important, is not the most important thing when choosing a freight forwarder or international shipping company.
According to Seth:
When you dive into the import / export game, it’s not just about wrapping furniture or making sure it gets there in one piece, you’re dealing with a myriad of laws and processes, unique to every country. There are some countries that won’t allow our Malawi Chairs in, unless they’re fumigated. Make no mistake, our chairs are fumigated, but Berry & Donaldson make sure they’re OFFICIALLY fumigated (with certificates) to make sure there’s no drama getting into the likes of Australia. Imagine the pain of your goods being stopped at the final destination and never getting to the client?
One thing I’ve learnt about import / export over the last three years is shit happens, WAY more often than you would think. Not partnering with a very good freight forwarding company is the biggest mistake any entrepreneur in this game could make.
These guys have been in the business for more than 50 years, so when it comes to negotiating the best rates with contractors (and all those other steps) they’re in the know.
Seth has long been raving about Berry & Donaldson’s complete handling of the freight logistics process, including these steps listed below:
That’s why we’re so happy to welcome them on board as partners here at 2OV, and why we’re keen to help out local businesses looking for that extra edge in our competitive market.
To be the best use the best – simple as that.
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