First steps to trading

Before a trading idea can be developed it can prove useful to discuss the following within your organisation. This should help to formulate ideas and structure your approach to trading. 

Why do you want to trade?

You must be clear from the beginning why you want to trade. Deciding on why you trade will influence all your future activities. Consider whether you will be trading to further your organisation's mission or simply to make money. Will trading help subsidise other non-financing activities? Can trading be incorporated into core services or is there a need to develop a new service?

Or is the way or working more important, for instance creating employment for disadvantaged groups, such as setting up a social firm?Social firms are organisations whose aim is to create real employment or training opportunities for people marginalised from the labour market. For further information visit

What are you selling now?

What assets do you have? This could be people, property or skills. Can these assets be traded? What levels of income could be achieved? Think laterally to get the real value from your assets. 

What can you sell?

Assets are not always visible or tangible. Consider also the skills, knowledge and intellectual property within your organisation. Intellectual property includes copyrighted materials, trade secrets, and know-how, in addition to four types of industrial properties - patents, utility models, designs, and trademarks. Can these assets be traded? 

What do you want to sell?

It is not always possible to develop every idea that is generated. The skills, finance and capacity of your organisation to deliver trading must be considered. 

Who will your customers be?

They maybe your users, such as in the case of'cost recovery'where you charge users a minimal fee or membership simply to cover costs. Alternatively your customers may be a third party from the public or private sector. It is extremely important to identify who your customers are, what their requirements are and how best to meet those needs effectively. 

How much will you charge?

Any trading activity should at least cover costs but ideally should be self-financing and ideally generate a surplus to support your organisation. You should ensure that your organisation does not have to subsidise a trading activity. Adopting a full cost recovery approach to finances should help to manage. For further details on full cost recovery, visit the Full Cost Recovery website

Who can you work with?

Formingrelationshipswith potential partners can help to bring in new skills and funding and can assist trading activity on a much larger scale. 

Who will your competition be?

Is your product or service currently offered by another service provider in the community? If so, how can your product or service compete, how is it unique, better quality or more competitively priced? 

How are you going to sell?

Investing in new skills such as marketing and communication is vital to the success of a trading venture.Some organisations are oftenunwilling to get involved in promotional activity, but as well as helping you to market goods and services, developing the right marketing skills can reap tremendous benefits for your organisation. 

Marketing is an essential skill that can help demonstrate your worth to funders, promote goods or services to users and help raise your profile in the community. Thus investing in marketing skills and resources can deliver real benefits as well as generating valuable income for your organisation.

WCVA and many county voluntary councils (CVCs) host training and workshops in marketing skills or can direct you to other local providers. You must ensure that as many potential customers as possible know about your product and service and how they can access it.