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Hi. I am a shipping company director, transport academic, author, family man and all round nice guy. I have worked as shipbroker, shipowner, freight trader and bulk charterer, in senior positions, with some of the largest and most disrespected (joke) companies in the world. Ask my advice on all things shipping and you will receive my blunt and always honest answer. Hang around to learn more about chartering and ship broker salaries, chartering and ship broker jobs, chartering and shipbroker recruitment agencies, cheap freight, maritime education, chartering and ship broker qualifications, become a ship broker, tips on how to be a successful bulk shipping executive, philosophy, Zen and the art of shipbroking, and much more. Yours The Virtual Shipbroker (recently proclaimed the guru of shipbroking) Copyright © 2009-17 by Virtualshipbroker

Monday, April 20, 2009

An insightful post from a new reader

I just thought I would publish this post from David (a new reader of the blog)

He has some very good insights useful for anyone wanting to start their own business.

I have a few points to add though.

Apart from the publically listed shipbroker companies and some with active private investors - which make up 5-10 percent of the industry, I would guess that with the vast majority of players you would be very hard pressed to find even 10 percent that have any plan whatsoever - be that a business plan, a marketing plan, a strategic plan, budgets etc etc....strange but true.

Historicall speaking the modus operandi is as follows - Am broker, have customers, want my own business, register company, start making phone calls, fingers crossed, fix first ship....

This method has been extremely successful for many but also presents some problems for the unprepared. I think the major highlight of Davids post below is that their is lots of room in this industry to do things in new ways. Many ways to skin a cat as they say.. (also revealing that in shipbroking a PLAN is considered a new way of thinking)

I think the most important thing is to have somesort of real 'plan'. It might not necessarily look like a formal business plan but you need to be sure of your goals and how you intend to go about achieving them.

Anyway enjoy the post


I think being an entrepeneur may be time consuming, frustrating and risky sometimes but is also rewarding. When you fail is your fault but when you have sucess is product of your effort too, so having your own company is not just about earning more money but to grow personally as your company does it. I agree totally that being a former employee in a larger company than your start up may be a good way or even the best to have sucess.

This way you will have not just the technical knowledge of the industry but also knowledge about how a company is organized inside. Sometimes small companies or sole traders tend to minimize the importance for them of writing a well organized business plan prior to start operations or quality management. A lot of people think those things are just for large companies, but all the companies whether big or not need to have an strategy finding its own place in the market and need to apply quality in its services to satisfy clients to have sucess.

I agree that outsourcing is very powerful and even desirable for the entrepeneur when starting. This way you can have your costs under control on an on-demand basis. You always have time later to hire skilled employees if demand for your services grow.

Best regards,David


Thanks for the contribution David!



  1. Thanks, just my 2 cents, from the perspective of a young entrepeneur with zero experience in shipping. As you say, wherever is a business there has been and there is plan, as well as wherever exist client relationships and/or a reputation there has been and there is some kind of quality management system applied to services. Both may be non-compliance with ISO standards, but that doesn't mean they are not valid and useful for you. Whenever you sell peanuts or act as a broker for sure you ask yourself some questions prior to starting:

    -Which services are going to be offered by my company?(chartering and/or s&p,etc)
    -Who are going to be my clients and suppliers?(knowing not just names but also their characteristics and what value added services could be offered to them, how should I communicate with them)
    -How/where may I find new clients and suppliers?
    -Who are going to be my competitors in my activities?(where can I and where can't I compete with them)
    -What resources do I need to carry out my activities?(staff, phone lines,outsourcing of services...)
    -What costs both monthly and annual are associated to those resources needed?
    -What unexpected problems may arise and what can be done to prevent them and solve them(global crisis, bankruptcy of your main client...)
    -What objectives do I have in the first year, in a short term and in the long run?(size of the company, income, expand activities...)
    -How and when should I measure if I am achieving my objectives?

    This is a business plan. The smaller the company the simple the business plan. Obviously for a professional shipbroker with clients the response to those questions is straight forward and he can start working inmediately. But for someone starting in shipping there is a lot of homework to do, that is why I visit this blog and other resources trying to learn as much as possible from professionals.

    Best regards,


  2. Hi David

    Thanks again. Over the last 3 weeks a number of people have asked me about opening their own shipbroking business hence the recent 3 posts on this topic.

    I have already started with pen to paper on a e-book covering the process and how to go about it. So keep an eye out over the next few weeks and if there is anything you would like specifically addressed in the book then let me know.

    Best regards

  3. For sure that ebook will be an invaluable resource, count on me to purchase it!

    I have not read yet your ebooks and the books from ICS so maybe some of my doubts can be solved there but mostly are related with the second question of my previous post, choosing your target clients and suppliers and your relations with them.

    For example, should I focus on small clients or large merchants and ship owners would be willing to work with me too considering they may have their own chartering/brokering department? Oil brokers are in daily contact with large traders and suppliers, this way they can act as a broadcasting service of supply and demand info in their area of activity. Should I understand that is also usual in shipping and desirable even for large clients? Where to place your office and which markets can you cover from there?

    Best regards,