How to set up a trade association

The first thing you need to consider is whether a trade association already exists.

The first thing you need to consider is whether a trade association already exists. As trade associations do not need to be registered with any official body this may be a difficult task.

A useful tool is the Trading Association Directory Search provided by the Trade Association Forum at www.taforum.org. The Trade Association Forum is a Trade Association for Trade Associations and is supported by the Confederation of British Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry.

“If no trade association exists, contact others within the field in the UK to establish whether there is significant interest in establishing a trade association for wedding consultants, as only with the support of a representative section of the industry will the trade association be able to establish its reputation,” explains Paul Chiappe, partner at commercial law firm Joelson Wilson.

You will also need to consider how you will finance the association. As Chiappe adds, the start-up costs are minimal, but contributions will need to be sought from initial members for such expenses as advertising and distribution costs.

“However, to be viable the general running costs of the trade association must fall comfortably within subscription income. Initial research on the expected take-up rate and a subscription level acceptable to the industry must be carried out,” advises Chiappe.

Barry Franklin, a business adviser for Business Link For London, believes it is a good idea to draw up a business plan with a marketing emphasis. Think about what other income can be generated to cover the cost of running the association, such as using advertising in the association’s newsletter or journal, events or sponsorship.

“You will have to sell the idea – if there isn’t an association set up, then find out why. You will also need to consider the structure but this is a straightforward process. A trade association should be seen as an independent body. Company limited by guarantee may be the best option, as sole trader, partnershjp or company limited by shares may be perceived as a personal interest,” comments Franklin.

If demand for a trade association exists, Chiappe offers the following tips for how to proceed.

– A steering committee with an elected secretary and chairman should be established

– The committee needs to consider matters such as: the objectives of the association, how it will be financed (for example, the level of subscription)

– Decide how the trade association will be controlled. For example, draft a constitution outlining the procedure for AGMs, and the roles of the executive committee, president and director general.

See also: List of small business associations and networking groups.

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