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Your step by step guide to becoming a market trader


Your step by step guide to becoming a market trader

Have you ever considered starting your own business? A stall on your local market is a flexible platform to test and launch a lean business. Read the attached Market Trader Start-Up Guide produced by the National Market Traders Federation

Your step by step guide to becoming a market trader

Why market trading?

The opportunity to build your business — As a start-up it may be difficult to secure funding, especially to afford a lease for a shop. With cheaper rent and possible rent incentives for new traders (depending on market), market trading gives you the opportunity to start small and grow.

Staying flexible — You don’t have to stay at one particular market; if you want you can trade on a number of markets on any number of days. If you have a niche product, there may be specific markets that will suit your business. Get your ear to the ground and visit your local markets!

Develop your business skills — Being your own boss is a great way to develop entrepreneurial skills, including skills in business management such as marketing, sales, logistics and accounting. You will also develop personal qualities, such as self-discipline, time management and effective communications.

Making connections — In order to succeed it is important for a market trader to interact and build a network of customers, to gain genuine feedback and learn which products sell. There is a sense of community with fellow traders and it is a great opportunity to learn from others on the market.

Support for your start-up — The NMTF offers practical guidance and business support to all members, including guides and courses. Membership includes comprehensive liability protection, legal and financial helplines, discounts from leading suppliers and an online members area.

Step 1: Research your product, customer, and market

Who is your competition? Not just on the market or in the local area but also online — market traders need to think ‘multichannel’ in today’s retail sector. What makes you and your products different?

Find out your customers’ needs — if there is no demand for your product or service, then why sell it? Gather opinions from speaking with strangers in the street armed with a clip board and a questionnaire.

Check what people are saying online about a particular market, product or service (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Read through the complaints and the praise.

Get to know how your customers want to shop, how do they want to buy from you? Discover how much they are willing to pay, how they want to make payment and how often they will buy from you.

Pull all this together using a SWOT analysis for the business idea. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Be honest with yourself and make decisions based on facts and figures.

Step 2: Develop your business plan

A three to five year business plan is a must. Entrepreneurs with realistic and robust business plans are more likely to succeed in their first year of trading on markets or market-type events.

Your business plan must answer the following questions: Where am I now? Where do I want to be? How might we get there? Which way is best? How can we ensure we get there?

Consider thinking through the marketing mix: Product, Price, Place, Promotion (including advertising, direct marketing and public relations), People, Processes and Physical Evidence.

What funds do you currently have? Do you need to apply for a business loan? Where and how are you going to apply for additional funding? Consider Start Up Loans UK.

It is essential to see your business plan as a work in progress — amend and review any details that you think you need to work on.

The NMTF offers business support guide, NMTF First, to new traders looking for tips on developing a business plan. Join the NMTF and read this for free in the members area

Step 3: Finance and funding

Research the type and amount of funding you are looking for — a variety of market operators now offer rent incentives for new businesses on their market, so see if the markets you are interested in do this. Use the NMTF’s database of markets to find contacts:

The NMTF endorses government backed, Start Up Loans UK: Other sources of finance are available. Consider contacting the NMTF’s sponsor, FinancemyBusinessonline:

Most market managers ask traders for proof of public and product liability insurance. Employers’ liability is a legal requirement. Make sure you are protected! Members of the NMTF are covered under an umbrella public, products and employers’ liability policy:

When sourcing and buying products from wholesalers, research which suppliers are reputable and recommended. Make sure you get invoices and receipts for every purchase, ensuring they are compliant with trading standards legislation:

Register as sole trader with HM Revenue and Customs — this means you are self-employed. You can keep all your business profits after tax is paid on them. Get up to speed with tax returns, national insurance contributions, registering for self assessment and record keeping:

Step 4: Keeping track of growth and development

Make sure all your sales, spending and ordering are kept up to date with regular checks and logging all incomings and outgoings using clear lists and spreadsheets.

Do you have a website or are you on social media? Monitor any Facebook posts or tweets to see what is proving most popular. Which products are selling well? Which aren’t? Make sure your findings are recorded.

Your first year is the most valuable to seeing what works for your business and what doesn’t — keep open to new opportunities, test different products and services and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

Useful links — Extensive and detailed information on starting your business from self-assessments to getting your business off the ground. — Find governmentbacked support and finance for business, including grants, finance and loans. – Latest facts and figures on markets in the UK, plus market traders share their start-up stories. — The NMTF is the only national body for market and street traders, events retailers and mobile caterers in the UK. Join us today!

For any enquiries about the information provided, please contact the the NMTF on 01226 749021 or email