Overseas Manufacturing and Clearing Goods Through Customs

When importing into a country, there are a number of terms, regulations and procedures an importer should be familiar with. The following is a guide of different issues to be aware of when importing.

For first time importers, it is highly advisable to pay a customs broker to enter and clear goods through customs. Customs brokers are licensed by the countries in which they operate, and they act on behalf of the importer to file the necessary documents for products to enter a country at the port-of-entry. Depending on their relationship with their client, they may also pay customs duties and other importing expenses on their client's behalf. Finally, they advise importers about issues of which they may need to be aware such as country or origin marks and other issues importers need to be aware of.

When choosing a customs broker, the importer should first make sure they can enter goods at the arrival port. In the US, customs brokers are licensed by the US Customs and Border Protection Service.

Prior to placing an order with a manufacturer, the relevant nation's customs agency and the importer's customs broker should be consulted to avoid possible problems such as the following:

  • Any legal issues that may exist with the product in the country of import.
  • Finding out after the product arrives at port that the it is subject to import quotas.
  • Possible health, safety or other regulations which apply to the product to be imported.

One easy to avoid, but common problem encountered when importing is the failure to mark the product in compliance with country of origin regulations. To avoid this, contact the relevant customs agency of the nation where the merchandise will be imported to ensure the goods are in compliance. For example, custom laws in the US require each imported good be marked with the English name of the country of origin (eg China) as reasonably, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article permits. Furthermore, this marking must be visible to the ultimate purchaser of the product.

The tariff rate levied by customs must be paid before the importer can take possession of the goods. While tariff rates in countries like the US average around 5% for most products, they can be significantly higher for some goods, particularly those with higher labor content. Therefore, it is important to know the rate before product arrives at port.

Before the goods are shipped, ensure the packing regulations for the destination country have been adhered. For example, every box, bale or case may need to be numbered with the exact quantity in each.

Other regulations include the type of pallets that can be used.

Problems with customs clearance often center around paperwork. Different goods often require different types of documentation, but the three major types of documentation the shipper must prepare include the following:

1. A bill of lading: This document, issued by the carrier or shipper, is basically a receipt of the goods acknowledging that they have been received on the vessel for shipment. This document indicates the particular vessel on which the goods have been placed, the destination of the goods, and the terms for transporting the goods to their final destination.

2. A commercial invoice: This is used as a customs declaration by the entity that is exporting an item across international borders. This document is required by customs to determine the value of the goods to assess duties and taxes, and goods must be invoiced in a systematic manner.

3. Packing list: This document is an itemized detail of the merchandise in a particular shipment. A copy is usually attached to the outside of the shipping container or inside the container itself so the merchandise may be counted by the person opening it.

It is crucial to make sure these documents, and any others that may be needed for a particular shipment, are carefully completed and reviewed before the goods arrive.

To avoid excess storage fees, arrange for a freight forwarder or some other type of transporter to ship the goods to their final destination as soon as they have cleared customs.

Being aware of these points, as well working closely with customs and a customs broker, will make the importing process smoother and will reduce the possibility of unnecessary difficulty or expense.

How Do Chef Schools Work?

Culinary schools give aspiring chefs their best shot at making it to the big time, especially those admitted by the American Culinary Federation. Just like any other profession, many of the better hospitality establishments base their hiring practices not only upon the length of education the applicant provides, but also where that education was obtained. Tuition runs the gamut from relatively inexpensive courses offered by local community colleges all the way to the Culinary Institute of America's breathtaking $ 40,000 price tag. And what does not tuition cover? Oh, just uniforms, textbooks, cutlery, and other necessary kitchen equipment.

Curriculum different from school to school, but most of the culinary student's time is consumed in learning the ins and outs of cooking by actually doing it under close supervision. Participants not only prepare food, but also learn how to plan menus, minimize food costs, buy food and supplies in quantities, and how to appropriately choose and store food. Learning proper hygiene and local public health rules also play a large part in a culinary student's education.

Classes are sometimes offered all day, taking a complete eight hours, while at some schools, classes are broken into morning and afternoon sessions. There are usually lectures, and then demonstrations followed by hands-on practice time with students applying the techniques demonstrated earlier. Some schools even offer part-time professional classes to accomodate working cooks wanting to increase their formal education.

A number of educational seminars are available, among them:

The American Academy of Chefs Chair's Scholarship – Ten $ 1,000 scholarships awarded each year

The American Academy of Chefs Chaine des Rotisseurs Scholarship – Twenty $ 1,000 scholarships awarded annually

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) – Three annual $ 2,000 scholarships for high school seniors and undergraduate students

Because years of training and experience are needed to reach the level of executive chef in most well-paying restaurants, many students are serious about this profession beginning their training in high school through voluntary programs, then go on to a two- or four-year college or university. Apprenticeship programs offer more training afterward, and these come from individual eating establishments and are given by a personal mentor or from professional institutions and associations such as the American Culinary Federation.

Apprenticeship lasts usually about three years and is most often known as the years of "grunt work" – doing all the chopping, grating, peeling, slicing, and washing necessary to prepare the ingredients for the chefs. Even cleaning appliances, sweeping and mopping floors, and other seemingly unaffiliated "chef" work gets done by the apprentice as part of his or her learning experience. Often this "trial-by-fire" period separates the truly devoted caf├ęs-to-be from those who are merely good cooks.

It is not impossible to attain the status of executive chef without the benefit of formal education, but in today's job market, most establishments (especially the finer hotels and restaurants) now require some type of certification to work in this capacity. Like a degree of any sort, formal training in the culinary arts may not mean you are another Julia Child or Paul Prudhomme, but it does at least signify that you've got what it takes to get through the school. So stop trying to think of ways to take shortcuts, get your tuition together, and go learn what you need to attain your dream!

Internet Marketing Vs Traditional Marketing – Can I Abandon Traditional Marketing?

This is a common question raised by novices in Internet marketing. Actually, it reflects a misunderstanding of the whole concept of Internet marketing. Because of its reliably novel stage, there is a mystique attached to the concept by newcomers and so the question: If I go for Internet marketing, should I abandon traditional marketing (as if one should now exclude the other)?

My simple answer is – why would you? Internet marketing and traditional marketing should complement each other. The Internet simply allows you to extend your reach beyond the current confines of your traditional marketing system such that areas in the world that were previously beyond your reach can now be accessed through the Internet.

To better appreciate that, it would be helpful to know what Internet marketing actually is. In a nutshell, it means putting up a website where you can display the product or service you are selling, and then encouraging people to drop by your site so that you can have buyers or customers. Everything else you will encounter in Internet marketing, including what may initially appear to you as highfalutin terms – like search engine optimization, search engine submission, reciprocal linking, keyword research – are nothing more than part of Internet marketing strategies to bring people to your website so that you will have the chance of making a sale. Without people finding out your website, you will never succeed in Internet marketing.

To better visualize this, consider the example of putting up a store in the physical world. Your store is located in a vast empty prairie. How are you ever make any sale if there are no people around? No matter how good your products or services are, if you have no passers by, if people can not locate you, you're finished. You have a choice of absolutely shutting down the store – or start an aggressive marketing campaign so that people will get to know about the existence of your store. And if you are successful in enticing them, people may start flocking to you to patronize your merchandise. Your strategies may occasionally include distributing leaflets announcing your store, putting up giant air balloons where from a distance, people will spot you, advertising on mass media, an so on.

The same thing happens to a business website – your virtual store in the Internet. Much like that solitary store in the prairie, all business websites initially exist in a much much vaster cyberspace prairie where no one will find you unless you now adopt and implement the well known Internet marketing strategies. But here's the exciting part – the analogy between the physical store and the business website (your Internet store) ends when it comes to their probable reach for potential customers. In that example of a physical store, how far can you reach out physically to attract customers? Realistically, even with a massive advertising campaign, you will most likely attract only people who are living within your immediate locality. Maybe a radius of fifty kilometers is good enough. Beyond that distance, people will find it impractical to still go to your store to buy anything. But not so in the Internet marketing model. You can be in the middle of the Sahara but your website can be found and access by anyone all over the world where you have Internet connection and where people will need your product or service! That's how massive you can get in Internet marketing!

Now, going back to the question – should you then abandon traditional marketing? That question sounds to me like coming from someone who's using a cellphone for the first time and who, in excitement about the power of the new gadget requests – will I now abandon face to face encounters and just talk with everyone through my cellphone? Of course not! Use your cellphone to get in touch with people who are not physically in your vicinity. But for people who are around you, there is nothing wrong with talking with them directly in person. In fact, that might even be preferred.

Instead of abandoning one system in favor of another, I suggest you combine Internet marketing with your traditional marketing skills. You could build an awesome marketing network that way!

Business Coaching: Why Partnering With a Coach Makes Sense Now

As an entrepreneur, you want a lot: to grow your business in a way that feels authentic, to serve the right customers with the right products, to create a positive impact, while at the same time enjoying a meaningful and fulfilling life outside of your business. This can often feel quite daunting. You may find that you are spending countless hours doing, doing, doing without getting the results that you want and deserve. Business coaching is a business growth tool that is well worth your consideration. Let’s take a look at what it is and why it works.

A coach starts by getting to know and understand both you and your business. He or she will help you be very clear in defining what success looks like from your vantage point and then work with you to develop the vision, strategies, projects, goals, and timelines that-assuming you take action-will lead you to that success.

Business coaching is neither therapy nor pure consulting. The therapy model assumes that someone is broken and needs to be “fixed,” while a consultant may hand you a set of instructions that any generic business owner might follow. Coaching on the other hand is very personal and is relationship-based. Your coach will likely use a blend of encouragement, persuasion, and inspiration to keep you in action while you begin creating the results that you want.

Coaching works well when you are open to partnering with someone trained in helping business owners be their best. Professional coaches are particularly skilled in listening, strategizing, supporting, and keeping you on track with your tasks, projects, goals, vision, and dreams. And they do this without judgment of you and (importantly) without having a personal stake in the outcome. In this sense, your coach does what a spouse, business partner, or best friend can often have trouble doing: he or she is a completely objective third party who is 100% on your side.

The title of this article suggests that business coaching makes sense “now.” What do we mean by that? As a business coach, I naturally am predisposed to advocating coaching as a practical and effective tool under most circumstances. And yet, there is something happening right now in the autumn of 2010 that is in my opinion making coaching an even more compelling choice. Over the past month, I have been noticing that we are in a time of what I call congruent manifestation. That is simply a fancy way of saying that a lot of my coaching clients (and other people I know) are hearing “yes” over and over again. We seem to collectively be in a period of time during which it is easier to create the success that is possible when we are clear about what we want and take action aligned with that desire. From media deals to new jobs, to graduate school acceptance, to artists being awarded public grants, I am seeing people consistently hearing a big, resonant “yes!” to those outcomes that they are longing for and working towards.

So how about it? Are you ready to finally create the success that even now is out there waiting for you? It is my deep desire–whether you take advantage of what business coaching has to offer or not-that you will create a business and a life of deep fulfillment, service, and joy.