More Network readers lately ask questions about business overseas; we hear below from an exporter and an importer. While their concerns are sometimes unique, often they are as universal as finding a market. This month's queries:
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French Connection My company sells computer systems to small businesses in the United States. We have just contracted with a French company to purchase floppy drives, hard drives, and computer chips here and ship them to France; and we are looking into other international deals. We know all the procedures, and we've spoken with the Department of Commerce and other agencies, but we don't feel prepared for every eventuality. For instance, military action in Gabon recently left us incommunicado with a representative there.
We need firsthand advice. Have any Network readers handled international deals before? Can they advise us about traps to avoid and logistical problems to watch out for?
Master Link Computers Inc.
Buyers Be Where? For the past year I have been trying to set up a mail-order company, but to no avail. I have been importing religious icons from the Holy Land. I get a good price on the items, and I've placed advertisements in religious publications around the United States. The ads are eye-catching and reach a large audience. My prices are competitive and my guarantees impeccable. Yet response has been poor to nil. What am I doing wrong?
I can't believe there is no market for my product. Can someone provide a checklist of issues, so I'll know if I've addressed them all? Why is The Franklin Mint so successful?
Holy Land Collection
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Program Trading Our company rebuilds software from obsolete computers to run on standard 286- and 386-model hardware. The increased power of the new machines allows us to add many features, and we know that there are computer users out there who would switch to more modern equipment -- and pay for our service -- if we could find them. But finding users of outdated computers has proven difficult. Can your readers suggest ways to reach them?
Daniel B. Grunberg
Jackson Hewitt Systems Corp.
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Group Protection I have just started a company handling mergers and acquisitions, and I have been looking into "errors and omissions" insurance coverage. My broker tells me it will be expensive to open a new policy but that I can save money if I join a group that already has such coverage. Now I'm wondering if other insurance -- medical or homeowners, for instance -- would be cheaper for me as part of a group plan. The problem is, I don't belong to any group. What can I join inexpensively to qualify for low group rates?