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SpecialistMichael
SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 508
Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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Hi. I have an opportunity to import marble and other stones

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Hi. I have an opportunity to import marble and other stones to the UK from a European (non-EU)country in massive quantities really cheap. Where do I start to look for customers and what kind?
I would prefer the big guys, companies that build luxury houses, shopping centers, wholesalers for marble (and other stones too)..I can get this directly from a quarry abroad and at very low prices due to a "connection". What would you suggest to someone who would like to start a business?

Also I would need guidance on import duty rules.
Thanks
Nigel,

My name isXXXXX you for using JustAnswer. When I am not assisting customers part time on JustAnswer I am the owner and operator of a very niche specialized business in my area based around the automotive trade, non mechanical. I would like to give you my perspective of small business and what I learned over a decade of what worked in what was considered a "tough" part of a trade to earn in.

The very first thing I would do is become familiarized with the tax classifications of the different types of business in your area(LTD vs DBA vs S-corp etc...) to ensure that when you do make the move to add this to your life that you are at an advantage tax-wise. Nothing is worse than having to pay out tons of money on taxes as a part-time job

The next thing I would STRONGLY recommend doing is to thoroughly research your competition, examine your skills and decide whether you are going to be able to offer something your competition can't and a price that will be competitive. If you are the only one in your area doing this, than that already puts you at a huge advantage.
I will start the next part with this line - keep it in your head.

You might have the best prices in the UK, but if nobody knows about them or you have no accounts built, then your lights are off.

Its really important to have a solid customer base, by this, unless people are desperate, you will need to have patience in building your business, especially if you decide you would prefer to do this full time. Any small business owner will tell you building a solid customer base takes time and patience. Its very unrealistic to decide you want to do this overnight, quit a full time job and not be in trouble financially UNLESS you already had enough customer support.

You can do things like direct mail for marketing, but these cost. The easiest thing to do would be to "pound the pavement" and "hit the phones", hard. Meeting and talking to people whether through the phone. Spend a day making calls, leaving messages and even driving over to those close to you to talk to people. Prepare to write notes, these will be the details you should follow up on. You will need to follow up, sometimes aggressively. I got some of my best customers by being incredibly persistent, to learn they wanted someone to be aggressive with them in searching for patronage - which was well rewarded. This is a feeler type thing from person to person so I would recommend not being pushy, but calling, introducing yourself, explaining briefly your skills and capabilities and explaining your mobility for the services.

You should search "Elevator Speech" and perhaps try to form your 1 to 2 minutes per phone call on getting in the information that is the most applicable.
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Nigel I have some more for you to consider - you need a business plan regardless of if this is something you end up pursuing or not.

**You need a business plan not only so you can show other people what you are doing and your goals, but more importantly so you can have everything laid out in front of you, so you can see the flow as you build and grow and more importantly so you can see and assign value to the various parts, making sure that all the goals and progression to those goals is reasonable both in terms of magnitude but also over the appropriate course of time.**

I would really recommend formulating your business plan or build a new business plan for the simple reason that a bank, money loaner, or investor would probably need significant convincing and a reasonable outline of your "new venture" before giving additional money without solid reasonable proof that you would be able to produce results and thus financial success.

The other reason for doing this is so you can really narrow down, to the last dime why things are currently tough for you. It dire in small niche businesses, especially in a non-traditional area(for that business) to know exactly where the marketing, spending and incomes are coming from and going. Without a serious outline, as well as a reasonably conservative plan for moving forward you might find yourself still struggling, so the point of this is to be slow and methodical and move at a steady, safe pace with "checkpoints"(if we get, then we do). You don't want to get involved with something or someone and end up in a financial stretch.


Take some time and sit down and write out what you think is reasonable. Most areas have an SBA, a small business association that allows people to go in and get started many times with the help of advisers who can point out the unreasonable.
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