Manuel Becvar:Interview With A Professional Importer
An Interview With “Manuel Becvar”, A Professional Importer,
Owner Of Importdojo.com & Mandarin Gear Ltd
I first heard about Manuel when i was browsing Reddit looking for some of the unanswered questions regarding importing from china,i thought i could help this community by interacting and offering advice,but a certain user kept popping up on most posts offering solid advice and tips in the field and i was intrigued.
Turns out this user was none other than Manuel Becvar, a professional Importer currently living in Hong Kong and has been doing this for 17 years straight,i went to his website to check more about him and i found one of the greatest E-books out there about importing,forget everything you’ve read or heard about,this is the ONE.
In his e-book,he managed to compress and discuss all possible steps and processes regarding Importing From China with solid and proven record,i was even surprised to find out that some of the concepts and steps mentioned in the e-book i have similarly shared here on my blog before,and that made me 100% sure that this is a person who really knows what he is saying and not just trying to build a following,this guy did it all and knows what he is doing.
Manuel is now the owner of Importdojo.com a blog discussing topics on importing similar to what we do here,and founder of Mandarin Gear Ltd,a Hong Kong based company specializing in a wide array of products in the WiFi Multi-room speakers, Bluetooth & NFC speakers, headsets, gadgets and accessories segment which have been carefully selected in terms of design, quality and price. Check It Out HERE
A couple of emails here and there and i managed finally to get him for a magazine style interview here on the blog for all of you guys to learn and benefit from his expertise,so my advice to you is this.
- Read the interview below to get to know more about Manuel and his thoughts on Importing From China
- After You Finish , head over to his site Importdojo.com and get his e-book about importing “The Import Bible” For Free For A LIMITED TIME
- If you feel that the information was really top notch and beneficial to you,help him out by buying the book on Amazon,leave him a review and spread the word.
So here we go,brace yourselves !!!1. Can You Tell Us A Little About Yourself ?
Manuel Becvar: I was born in Austria in 1982 and grew up with my mother who was a teacher. I was a regular kid and played a lot of sports, particularly basketball in my youth. I was always fascinated with Asia and traveling so I guess I made it my destiny to work and live abroad.
2. How did you first get involved with importing in general and why did you choose this field ?
Manuel Becvar: I worked for Austria’s biggest DIY retailer as a sales person from 1998-2004 and in 2004 I got offered an assistant manager position in their import department in their headquarters. That department was handling all the import from Asia for the group. I was on the phone with people in Hong Kong on a daily business and was put in charge of presenting imported products to national buyers. I was hooked and not long after, I was offered a position as an intern in the buying office in Hong Kong. I moved to Hong Kong in 2005 and never looked back.
3. How long were you running your own business before you started paying yourself? How did you live through those first few months/years?
Manuel Becvar: I started my own company in late 2013 while still working full time at my day job. I started working full time on my own company in March 2014 and for the first few months I was living of my life savings. It wasn’t a good feeling not receiving paychecks anymore after 16 years in a 9-5 job. But that kept me going and I worked long hours the first few months. I actually still do sometimes.
4. What do you find most challenging about importing from china or Importing in general ?
Manuel Becvar: What I find most challenging is the cultural differences & the different style in working with Chinese people. What is being said or promised on the phone/chat or email is not always being followed by the factory or the supplier. Often you will find that something you said or agreed on is being done completely different. You need to have control mechanisms in place to monitor your orders. Be it inspections, checklist or regular meetings. Even then it doesn’t always go smooth but damage control is less than without the control mechanisms. Price increases and negotiations is another thing that I find most challenging. Prices are eventually always increasing so it is difficult to satisfy buyers & suppliers at the same time.
5. What networking do you do that you feel helps your importing business ?
Manuel Becvar: I am networking a lot on Reddit.com as well as Linkedin.com. If there is some local offline networking event that interests me I will try to join that as well. I also write newsletters to my buyers every 2 weeks to keep interest & communication going. That could be a new product or some market research article that I’ve written.
6. Tell us about some of the people you’ve met during your work time here.
Manuel Becvar: So many people that have influenced me in those years, I wouldn’t know where to start. Each boss or coworker or friend has influenced me in some way. Be it positive or negative, I learned from each one. My last boss was a horrible team leader and his actions made me eventually quit my “dream job” and start my own company. Nevertheless I still learned a lot from him about management and dedication to your products & job. I probably learned the most from him actually (professionally). In 2006 I met Arnold Schwarzenegger at a luncheon in Hong Kong. Jackie Chan was also there the. Arnold was still Governor of California back then and he was doing a tour to promote the Californian industry. I spoke to him briefly at that event (in Austrian of course) and he said something that inspired me to become my own boss eventually.7. Why did you get into blogging and what made you publish an e-book regarding this field ?Manuel Becvar: When I started my own company I was working with different customers than in my previous jobs. A lot of my new clients were unaware of importing procedures so I started writing a little guide for them but that quickly turned into “The Import Bible”. To get the word out about the e-book I started blogging and within a month I had nearly 500 followers. My father was also an author so maybe that’s were I inherited my writing desires 🙂
8. I’ve seen that you’ve mentioned Amazon FBA & Ebay in your e-book,do you think this is a successful business model,and If you do,how would you advise people starting out there about it ?Manuel Becvar: FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is booming right now like eBay was in the early 2000’s. But FBA is a much more profitable & less time consuming model than eBay ever was. Arbitraging products on eBay is pretty much dead these days. But importing and creating private labels is the future. I mean everyone can do it now with a little guidance. If you are starting out I recommend you to start small. Order a sample, if that’s good order 5-50 pieces on Aliexpress.com or other sites like dhgate.com. Once you see sales on that product re-order 100-300 pieces on Alibaba for better prices. Find the real manufacturers. At the same time try to enlarge your assortment. Start out with 1 product and work your way up to 10 different items. For example kitchen tools. Once you have an assortment and are placing larger orders, create your private label.
9. What has been your strategy for creating visibility for yourself and your blog ?
Manuel Becvar: I had great guidance from a friend who has been blogging and programming for over 10 years. He has run a couple of very successful projects and is very well versed in creating a buzz & visibility online. I basically started out in forums, Facebook groups and Reddit.com. To get real followers you need to give away a great deal of free information. I mean I give away a book that has 65 pages and has taking me a long time to write. And in it are the essentials that get you started with importing. There is a lot more to it of course but the book has amazing value for import newbies.10. What do you do when you are not working on the blog,to rephrase tell us about a day in your life.
Manuel Becvar: Well I get up pretty early, usually around 7 and start sitting on my laptop for half an hour or so. If there is no meeting scheduled for the day I like to start the day with a run in Kowloon Park. I then head over to the office around 9 to go trough the emails of the last few days. Its pretty much talking to suppliers about running orders or productions of mine by email/Skype/phone until lunch. I’ll probably be doing a little research after lunch on new trends & products. I start calling my customers (overseas) in the afternoon and eventually will work on new product ideas until 4:30 or so. I then work on new content for my blog for another hour . If It’s a busy day it can happen that I ll be in the office until 8 pm but I always try to leave earlier than that. I don’t believe in long working hours unless absolutely necessary to meet a deadline. I mean you are as efficient as you can be until 5 pm or so. But after that I think most people are just staying in the office “just to be there” and impress the company/boss. I believe in a strong work-life balance. I do work on weekends but usually from home and sporadically look at my emails throughout the weekend. But I will definitely try to go outdoors & socialize as much as possible after work.11. Looking out 3 to 5 years, beyond the obvious trends, what do you think will be the next big change in the industry?
Manuel Becvar: E-commerce is definitely a trend that many people try to hop on now. Looking at FBA, I mean this business model is amazing! You can practically do everything from home and Amazon does most of the sales part for you. That’s why retailers are complaining so hard about missing out on consumers in their stores. Also I see that my retail customers are placing smaller and smaller orders. Everyone shops online these days. Personally in the future I will steer away from sourcing for clients as they start doing the whole process by themselves. I will focus more on guiding & teaching those people how to source properly, safely and with more confidence than ever.12. If you had a list of the ‘best-kept secrets’ [websites, books, coaches] you’d recommend, which would you include and why?
Manuel Becvar: My absolute favorite is the “4-hour work week” by Timothy Ferris. This is a book I can recommend to everyone who has always wanted to escape the rat-race and build his/her own business or semi-retire without a lot of money. I am not completely there yet but I remind myself of “not working” too much and enjoy life a little more in my prime years.
13. Finally what would you like to say to anyone thinking about starting a business in the import field
Manuel Becvar: I’d say, do your due diligence on following strict processes that you set up for yourself and always have control mechanisms in place when dealing with manufacturers in China. And obviously read my book for guidance 🙂
Thank you Manuel For Giving us the opportunity to know more about you and what you do,and we hope that you can help the Importers community by continuing to add sources,advice,and tips for all the people out there who need help.
And to be the first to say this,i’m proud to announce that Manuel is releasing a course next week tailored to exactly what all of you importers need to know and do to make a thriving business in the Importing Field as well as other meaty secrets of the trade,to get it first,make sure to subscribe to Manuel’s Blog to receive the updates on the course as soon as they are available.
If you have any questions for Manuel,let him know by asking it down there or connect with him directly on Linkedin.