Making sure you have everything ready is the first part to be a successful Market trader

Lesson 12: Devil in the Details

The one thing that trips everyone up is the paperwork and the small admin jobs that are required for every business. Whether you are a small producer or a large conglomerate, there is always admin.

Now the easiest advice I can give is, hire someone else to do it for you, but that will prevent you from learning some very important business lessons.

The final lesson of the third module for How to Start a Market Stall, I want to look at the admin you should be keeping as a matter of course. From a record keeping to business cards, floats to packing up, this is a brief overview of the admin you ought to be doing!

A Matter of Finance

Finance is an umbrella term for everything you are going to be doing with your accounts. You could also say accounts and you may in time employ a book keeper or accountant for your business, but for now, it is vital you understand a few basic concepts about your financial status.

You will have to put money into your business, and you will have to pay money out of your business.

There, that was easy, wasn’t it?

The basis of finance and your book keeping rests on this simple premise:

You will need to keep records of where you get money and where you pay money. The rest is just details.

In Module 4, we will be looking at different types of financial reports and ways you can keep a handle on your business, so you can be certain about your money situation any time of the month.

(I’ll back link the details once the posts are complete.)

For now, buy an A4 book, and begin writing in what you are buying and what you are selling for each day. Add up and check the figures and do it again tomorrow.

At the end of the month, ‘Close’ (to use an accounting term) the month by adding every thing up into a “What I spent figure” and a “What I earned figure”, then start the next month.

Simple accounting to get you started!

Business Cards

Okay, who needs them, we all have phones!

My answer would obviously be “Yes, we do” but the business card goes a little further than a phone. It is tangible, it has the details right there. People associate the card with the location they bought it in. There is a connection with your stall and your card.

Now you could spend hundreds on each card or you could simply make some from your own or a friends printer. “It ain’t hard!”

Something you want to make sure you always have on the card though is your Name, the Stall Name, Your phone number, Facebook Page and email address, at the very least!

To learn how to make the Facebook page, join my newsletter and receive the free social media guide right there. Here is where you can sign up for the Newsletter (Opens in a new tab).

If you have a website, you can add it and any other social media ways someone can contact you. But…

BUT – DO NOT CROWD the business card. Better to have a Facebook address that points to your Instagram and Twitter feeds, than not be able to read your business card because the writing is so small!


If you really want to be a little different, buy some cardboard, or fabric and cut into a shape that represents your stall. Then hand write your details on there. It will be a little different to everyone else and you will stand out and be remembered!

Take a Pen and Paper

If you had forgotten about the pen and paper, put it in the bag now. In fact, put three or four pens in the bag and have a pad with you.

This is going to come in handy for:

  • taking contact details of potential customers
  • website addresses for your networking contacts
  • small to do lists for your stall, and
  • an ideas page for new ideas for creating products for your stall

Do not think for a second your phone will do. When it is busy the last thing you will want to be doing is looking at a screen. You can pass people a page and they can write their details as you talk with other customers.

It’s quick to write down notes. You can always type them into your phone later on in the day or on your way home when things are a little quieter.

Make the most of your sales technique. Technology is great but one screen and lots of people doesn’t make it easier to sell!


Have at the very least one poster!

Let it say a stall name, an image that describes what it is you are selling, and a contact detail for people to get in touch with.

Don’t write a long email address unless that is all you have. Use a username like the @marketnosh for my Facebook page or the @marketnosh for my Twitter page. Keep it simple for people to see.

When people take photos your poster may be in the picture and that is free advertising for you. Make it count!

The Float

Whenever you start off you will be completely baffled by the float. Don’t worry!

A float is where you have some change to give money back to folks who don’t have the correct change. Note, unless you deal in round numbers and note sizes you will forever be dealing with change!

Take a 20, and go to your bank and ask for change. Go to your piggy bank on the book shelf and use all the change for your float.

Only I suggest for your financial records I wrote about earlier, make sure you know what you are taking.

The next issue is where to keep it. Some market stall traders have a bag that you put round your waist so you always know you have your money with you and no-one is going to grab it and run off with it.

If it has compartments great, keep notes in one part and small change in another.


Since we are talking about a bag for your cash, you may also wish to have a bag for your necessary stuff like your pens, paper and lunch, drinks etc.

This should be easy to walk around with, and you may need to take it with you when you visit the bathroom. Being organised with a good quality bag is going to make your day so much better.

Organise it each evening so it doesn’t fill up with clutter and left over bags of crisps!

If you are carrying valuable items like laptops or items that will break, invest in something durable. Paying for something cheap will only end with your precious stuff broken or damaged and cost you in the long run!

Leaving the Market

The reason I suggested in the last lesson, Lesson 11: Packing and Setting Up to get used to setting up your stall and packing it away was so you could be comfortable at the market.

You have rehearsed this, you know which box has which items, and you can easily put things in the right place.

You can also do your checklist now as you put everything away. Make a quick note of items you need to replace when you get home and cut down your time later on.

Again, be organised here. Make sure you have everything and you are not walking out with jackets wrapped around your neck and boxes without lids. You’ll lose stuff and that will cost you money!

Lost money is lost income from all those hours you were at the market!

Make sure you say goodbye to folks on your way out and be sure to remember their names and what they are selling. This goes a long way to you becoming an integral part of the stall traders network.


The market place really is the easy part if you have done all your prep work before you get there. There are some things which are going to make your time so much easier to manage if you just prepare for the day.

Get your finances in order, take paper and pens and get organised. You are now the face of your business and you want to make this succeed.

If you are interested in listening to stall traders right from the market stall, get ideas for your stall or hear about stories from the market place, then listen to The Market Nosh Show podcast. You can download it from Soundcloud or iTunes or you could just visit The Market Nosh Show page right here and listen to it now.

It is always great to have feedback, so have a look at the Market Nosh Facebook page or become a part of the Market Nosh Costers group on Facebook where you and other traders can ask questions and help others with their market stall lives.

Quick Quiz

  1. What two parts make up financial record keeping?
  2. How could a poster help you with free advertising?
  3. Name one item a pen and paper is useful on your stall.

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