Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CAREER DEVELOPMENT / APR. 30, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Become a Market Trader

An age-old profession, the work of a market trader revolves around the selling of goods from a stall in a public forum of some kind. From fresh produce to clothing and wares, market traders forge a living for themselves via the most basic of business principles: buy low and sell high. Very much a frontline and customer-facing retail profession, the work of a market trader best suits those with outgoing attitudes and the ability to communicate concisely with a clientele.

The Work

Selling both products and services, market traders more or less all operate in the same capacity. The simple accumulation and distribution of merchandise/services is a process far lengthier and more multi-dimensional than most would care to imagine. The day-to-day tasks of a trader are likely to read as follows:

  • Making early morning journeys to wholesalers and stock providers
  • Visiting and communicating with suppliers and bartering on prices
  • Unloading produce and setting up the stall
  • Manning the stall and encouraging custom from the passing public
  • Taking payments, managing money, providing change
  • Packing up shop at the end of each working day
  • Stocktaking and the management/rotation of stock
  • Keeping records and accounts

On top of this, traders are required to keep on top of the delicate law surrounding their profession. Not to mention the obligations with relation to tax, given that they are essentially self-employed professionals.

Hours and Pay

Trading hours in this business are notoriously hard-going. Depending on the forum in which a trader desires to sell their stock, a working day can start as early as 5am. The collection of stock followed by the time it takes to set up shops means that an early start is always required in order to have things ready by the usual business starting time of 9am.

In terms of monetary remuneration, rates tend to vary wildly- as is all so often the case when it comes to self-employment. As a rule of thumb (if not a slightly generic snippet of advice!) the more you put in the more you are likely to take out. Whereas working just one or two days per week will see the average stall owner pocket between £5,000 and £10,000 per year, upping to three, four or even five days a week could see a drastic improvement on this.

Useful Skills and Personal Qualities

Nowadays a far cry from the wheeling and dealing chancers they are portrayed to be in just about every 1980’s British sitcom in existence, traders do still rely on many of the same attributes in order to succeed at what they do. Among these are:

  • An approachable, friendly and pleasant personality
  • Confidence and enthusiasm
  • A sense of humour and the ability to relate to people from all walks of life
  • Good negotiation skills
  • Creativity and the ability to make snap decisions
  • A keen business sense
  • Competent math skills

Professional Requirements

Whilst this vocation doesn’t require any academic qualifications, there are several requirements that must be met in order to succeed as a market trader. A base-fund to get things going is of course required to cover set-up costs, licensing via your local authority, public liability insurance and any losses that are made as the business finds it feet- on top of this you’ll need a full driving license and access to a load-bearing vehicle such as a van or flat backed truck. 

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