So you are thinking of starting up your business as a market trader? You possibly know what you are going to sell, so maybe in your mind that is it. You just need to find an appropriate market, rent the space, buy some stock and hey presto – you’re in business. Enthusiasm is great and is a must when you start in business. Good advice is paramount and the first piece of advice that I will give you is to be hungry for information. Listen to what other people tell you and read as much as you can that relates to what you want to do. You will, I am sure, later decide that some of the information is best ignored or is just not helpful, but at least if you have listened to everything and read as much as you can, then you stand a good chance of finding out something that is useful.
That’s enough of the general stuff. I will now try to give you something that I hope you will decide is good advice.
The first thing that I would ask you to do is prepare a personal month on month budget. You need to know this before you start. When you have completed your business plan you need to know that ultimately it will be capable of financing your life. We all need to live somewhere, we all need to eat, we may have dependents and we need money to pay for their needs. Include any other sources of household income and from this deduct your expenses. This will include all of your property expenses: your mortgage or rent, the rates and water rates, electricity and gas bills, etc., plus at some point you may have to finance some repairs, so do budget for this. Once you have detailed the property expenses you then need to think of other items like food for you and your family, clothes, private travel, holidays and anything else that you can think of. At this stage I would advise that you include everything, even the things that you know you are going to sacrifice in pursuit of your dream. Later, after you have prepared your business plan, you can remove them if required.
The next step is to start putting down on paper what you want your business to look like at the beginning, at the end of the first year, and where you hope you are in, say, five or ten years, and ultimately how long you intend to run the business. I am not advocating that you should only go in to business if your intention is to be a millionaire, but rather you must make sure that the business of running a market stall satisfies your personal needs. There is an old saying that you may have heard before, but it is one that is very important and goes as follows: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Whatever you do in the future, please remember this – it is probably the best bit of advice I have been given.
Before you open your stall and after you have prepared your personal budget you should prepare your business plan. This is a detailed plan which should start with explaining where the idea came from. Then it should show more detail, what are you going to sell, and where you plan to sell it. Next, what you are doing, or why you think that what you are doing, will work. Finally, your plan should explain your exit strategy or the end game.
At this point you may be thinking, “I am only just starting. Why should I be thinking of my exit strategy? That seems a bit odd.” This could be nothing more than saying, “I will do this until I retire,” but whether you are looking to have a business that you can sell or one you just retire from, it does not matter. At least think about the end game because decisions you make at the start could affect the final outcome.
I will now try to give you a bit more detail as to what should be in your business plan.
Detailed information should be given for a minimum of 12 months and there should also be a two to five-year plan covering the following: