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Becoming Profitable

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Becoming Profitable

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If you want to run your own business or if you have just launched your start up this article is for you. Today we are going to go over the best ways to take your young business and make it profitable as soon as possible. What does becoming profitable mean? In short, it means that your business generates a profit rather than a loss. A profit occurs when you generate more income than you spend. So, what are the best business practices to accomplish that?

First, you’ll have to come up with your product or service. When coming up with your product or service, the best thing to choose is something that you have an interest in. You need to center your business around products or services that you truly enjoy learning about. Stay within your area of interest and understanding or ‘circle of competence’. Remember, if you can sell someone of your why you can sell any product or service.

Next, you’ll need to have a business map or strategy. You won’t be able to get where you’re going if you don’t have an outlined path. How do you get from point A to point B? This first step incorporates different scenarios so that you’re ready for any problems or conflicts that might arise on your route. Your map should include a plan for how to make a profit. What can you do today, this week, this month to start improving your business’ quality of profit ratio? That is the point of a business map.

Lastly, you’ll need to understand the financials through and through. If you want to run your own business or startup you, not someone you hire, need to understand every financial part of the business. Running a business and staying in business relies on being profitable. If you don’t know your numbers you are just setting up yourself for failure. You wouldn’t fly a plane without knowing how to read the gauges, and the same applies to business. If you can’t tell if you’re making or losing money, you don’t understand the controls. So, understand the financials so you don’t crash your business.

If you can find a product or service that drives and interests you, follow a strong business map, and understand all of the financials of your business becoming profitable won’t be an issue. Do these things and your business will be in good hands

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Assessing Your Competitive Advantage

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If you’re looking to start your own business, importing and/or exporting might be an option for you. However, before you jump the gun one thing you need to determine is what makes your business better than the competition. What is your competitive advantage? Today we are going to give you tips on how to find your competitive advantage and how to use it properly.

One of the most impactful things you can do is talk to your customers. Both your existing customers and prospective customers. Customer feedback offers a wealth of information that will help you understand your current positioning in the market and industry as a whole. They will give you insights into potential new offerings and could very well give you the answer you’re looking for: what your competitive advantage should be.

Another thing you can do is perform a competitive audit. Marketing audits track the marketing tactics your competitors use. Does your competitor publish content marketing? Do they use Google Adwords? What social media channels do they post to and are they affective? Take tactics that work and implement them into your business. The ones that don’t work, make them better and use them to your advantage.

Lastly, once you’ve found your competitive advantage, don’t make it a secret! Communicate your advantage to your customers and make sure it is backed by proven facts. This is called a value proposition and will become the defining statement of your company. The goal is to not only hook your customers on your value proposition but to also engage in a “tell me more” conversation.

Nailing your competitive advantage is only one of the critical elements in a strategic business plan but one of the most important. The competitive advantage is what can make or break your business so invest time in figuring out what the right answer is before doing anything else.

Navigating Duty Drawback

Navigating Duty Drawback

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The war in Ukraine continues to impact the global economy as changes in other countries are beginning to happen. For example, recently we have seen a global food crisis as Russia is blocking vital fertilizer exports that are needed by farmers elsewhere. This restriction then caused China and its firms to stop selling fertilizer to other countries in order to preserve supplies at home. Because China is a massive producer, consumer, and trader of thousands of essential goods across the globe (like fertilizer), the impact of such restrictions are being felt everywhere.

Steel is another example. China is a huge supplier of steel and they were once accused of generating overcapacity, with its low-priced exports forcing steelmakers out of business in the United States and Europe. Now, China is imposing export restrictions on steel which has triggered higher prices worldwide and has added more unwelcome pressures to inflation. China Steel Corp., the nation’s largest steelmaker, said at the end of Q1 that they were raising steel prices 5.83% on average for shipments in Q2 to reflect the cost hikes caused by economic sanctions against Russia.

Fertilizer and steel are only two goods where we have seen big changes. Step away from actual products and we still have problems like supply chain issues and global logistics. There are still not enough people to help unload the docs. Import and export businesses are struggling to get in and out of Russia and Ukraine. Everything from actual goods to worldwide logistics has been negatively impacted by the war.

All countries will continue to feel the lasting impact by this war and unfortunately the longer the war goes, the harder it will be to recover. For more information on the war in Ukraine stay updated here on our monthly blog.

Importing and exporting between nations is complex. It is very time-consuming and requires expertise to ensure your business maintains profit margins, complies with international regulations, and fulfills customer demands efficiently. As you may know, there are costs of customs duties. What you may not know is how to navigate what is known as duty drawback. Duty drawback is an opportunity for reimbursement on customs duties and taxes. Today we are going to go over a few of the best things you can do to navigate and maximize your duty drawback.

There are many forms that will need to be filled out to start the duty drawback process. A few examples include proof of duties paid, an entry summary, the proof of import, and the proof of export. Forms such as these can stack up and often get lost. The best thing you can do is get organized and stay organized. Maintaining organized and complete records is essential to getting your money back. If you want to apply for duty drawback and maximize the amount you get, make record-keeping your number one priority.

Another thing you should know is that legally, only the exporting company of record is entitled to receive the drawback. As an exporter, you can endorse the drawback rights back to the manufacturer if you are two separate entities.

Lastly, do not bank on getting your drawback right away. Once your drawback claim is under CBP review, it can take several years before everything is complete. You can receive money faster by getting pre-approval from the CBP through the accelerated payment program and this will allow you to get your money back in as little as a few weeks but just remember that duty drawback is not a process with a quick turnaround time.

There is so much to know about duty drawback that it can be tough to navigate. Use these tips to help get you started and if you have any more questions please reach out to the experts here at Duty Calc. We are here to help.

Impact Of The War

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Impact Of The War

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The war in Ukraine continues to impact the global economy as changes in other countries are beginning to happen. For example, recently we have seen a global food crisis as Russia is blocking vital fertilizer exports that are needed by farmers elsewhere. This restriction then caused China and its firms to stop selling fertilizer to other countries in order to preserve supplies at home. Because China is a massive producer, consumer, and trader of thousands of essential goods across the globe (like fertilizer), the impact of such restrictions are being felt everywhere.

Steel is another example. China is a huge supplier of steel and they were once accused of generating overcapacity, with its low-priced exports forcing steelmakers out of business in the United States and Europe. Now, China is imposing export restrictions on steel which has triggered higher prices worldwide and has added more unwelcome pressures to inflation. China Steel Corp., the nation’s largest steelmaker, said at the end of Q1 that they were raising steel prices 5.83% on average for shipments in Q2 to reflect the cost hikes caused by economic sanctions against Russia.

Fertilizer and steel are only two goods where we have seen big changes. Step away from actual products and we still have problems like supply chain issues and global logistics. There are still not enough people to help unload the docs. Import and export businesses are struggling to get in and out of Russia and Ukraine. Everything from actual goods to worldwide logistics has been negatively impacted by the war.

All countries will continue to feel the lasting impact by this war and unfortunately the longer the war goes, the harder it will be to recover. For more information on the war in Ukraine stay updated here on our monthly blog.

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Increasing Fuel Costs Continue

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From high tech companies like Apple and Samsung to local mom and pop shops, everyone continues to struggle with sourcing product. The COVID-19 pandemic started it and the conflicts between Ukraine and Russia only made things more difficult. Things like increased shipping costs and freight shortages play a role in the global supply chain struggle.

We have all seen the gas prices recently and unfortunately it is not looking like they will be going down any time soon. The national average for a gallon of gas is now over $4.25 according to AAA. Some experts say that we might see a slight decline after May but the national average is still expected to remain over $4 until the end of the year. Not only is it more expensive to fill up your car’s gas tank but that also means it is more expensive to fill up freight trucks and air cargo jets.

Climbing oil prices translate directly to higher diesel prices. The United States diesel prices are up significantly from last year and are expected to go higher as sanctions are mounted against Russia, the third-largest oil producer in the world. Higher fuel costs from climbing oil prices caused by the hostilities will continue to be felt by shippers across the globe. Ocean carriers who continue to serve ports in the region have introduced War Risk Surcharges for these shipments. This translates to an additional $40-$50/TEU. Similar to gasoline prices, while a temporary dip in available supply of exports could explain the slight easing in freight costs, all signs point to continued elevated volumes in the coming months.

Expect prices to continue to increase and when they do decrease it will be very minimal. Hopefully by the beginning of next year we will see prices return back to what they once were.

International Trade With Russia

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Russia invaded Ukraine about a month ago and since then the U.S. and allies have pursued a series of economic sanctions against Russia in retaliation for the invasion. On Friday March 11, President Biden said that the U.S. and other G-7 nations will deny Russia from a favored nation status. This meaning that the U.S. and allies will revoke Russia’s most-favored nation trade status. How will this impact the U.S.? Today we will break down some of the numbers.

According to the Census Bureau, Russia was the U.S.’ 23rd largest trading partner, totaling $36.1 billion in two-way goods trade in 2021. $29.1 billion of which account for Russian products into the U.S.

60% of what the U.S. imports from Russia is in energy, including oil, coal, and natural. In 2021 the U.S. imported an average of 209,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Russia. Russian oil accounts for about 3% of what the U.S. imports each year, but that is still enough of a jump to drive up gasoline prices for all of us.

Energy aside, other goods imported from Russia will see an increase as well if they have not already. The move to revoke Russia’s most-favored nation trade status will cause the U.S. tariff rate on Russia caviar to jump from 15% to 30% and levies on plywood will increase from 0 to 30%, according to the Wall Street Journal. Vodka will also be subject to a tariff of $1.78 per liter.

As the war continues the U.S. and allies will continue to do what they can to support Ukraine, even if it is just an economic blow. However, doing so will likely lead to more inflation not just in the U.S. but globally.

For more information on import and export news please stay tuned here on our monthly blog.

Expedited Shipping

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Expedited Shipping

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As a business one of your top priorities is to satisfy your customers, right? You want to keep them happy so they keep doing business with you (aka spending money). If you are an importer one of the best things you can offer your customers is expedited shipping. Sure, lead times are through the roof because of the problem at the ports, but if you can navigate around those barriers and offer quicker shipping, this can really help your business grow. Here are the benefits to offering expedited shipping.

If you offer expedited shipping, you can offer your customers more products. By this we mean, you can ship time sensitive products like perishable goods or government documents. If your business offers a product that is time sensitive, expedited shipping will allow your business to ensure that your things arrive at their ultimate destination while still viable.

Additionally, have you ever been part of an inventory or cycle count? If you have, you know that it is a massive headache if you store a lot a product. The more product you are in charge of the more likely you are to lose it. This is the last thing you want to tell your customers. Expedited shipping allows your business to maintain a lean inventory. Lean inventory reduces the number of products you store at your facility and this will reduce overall inventory costs, thus saving you money.

Lastly, the most important reason you should offer expedited shipping is because you create an improved customer service experience through decreased transit times and the transparency of delivery processes. If customers can get their products quicker they tend to be a lot happier. If they can place their order, track it, and get it in their hands in a timely manner, as consumers they will have no reason to spend their money anywhere else.

Expedited shipping is a great way to keep your customers happy and keep your business ahead of your competitors. Consider offering expedited shipping if you do not already because it can really help all parties involved.

Movement At The Ports

Movement At The Ports

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Last October the Los Angeles Harbor Commission implemented a “Container Excess Dwell Fee” that was directed at ocean carriers to improve cargo movement on container terminals. This fee charges carriers $100 a day per container left on the dock. Carriers have a maximum of nine days to move containers by truck before the fines start accruing and six days if transporting by rail. At the time of implementation, this fee was set to last until the end of January.

Since October, there has been significant improvement at both the Long Beach port and Los Angeles port. In November, Mario Cordero who is the executive director of the Port of Long Beach reported that since the announcement of the new fees both ports have seen lingering cargo containers reduce by about 33%. To date, Gene Seroka who is the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles reported that import cargo lingering nine days or more has declined by 60% at the Port of Los Angeles. There are still more containers than normal but the fee has definitely helped move things along. The ports are pleased with the progress and employees at both are hoping that this is just the start. Because of the proven success of the Container Excess Dwell Fee, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission voted 5-0 to extend the fee.

Although there has been progress in logistics at the ports, Cordero believes that there are still national supply chain issues that need to be addressed. Things like truckers, marine terminal operators, warehouses, railroads, port authorities, etc. all need to be prioritized just like the ports were. Sure, it will take time but the good news is that there is at least a conversation happening with regard to the need to have a transformational change.

Cordero is absolutely right. The fact that we are moving things at the port is great. But there needs to be changes to the entire supply chain to really make a lasting impact.

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