The first step is to decide your business purpose, which will help you to understand whether a co-operative is right for your idea.
Co-ops are businesses that create value to share among their members. In a co-op, ownership and control is shared equally amongst members who use their co-op. Members of a co-op are people, other businesses, employees or other community stakeholders who work together to achieve a common purpose or outcome.
In broad terms, a successful co-operative harnesses the interests of its members to drive its performance.
Sometimes people feel that a co-operative structure is a good thing in itself, and that by adopting a co-operative structure an enterprise gains an immediate advantage of some kind. It’s important to make the right choice at the outset.
Australia has a proud tradition of agricultural producer co-operatives, and we can point to many excellent examples. In a successful producer co-operative the voice which producers have enables them to shape and improve the co-op’s performance and the ownership they have encourages them to think about the way they use what the co-op offers.
First, you will need to develop and refine your idea. In working out whether the business idea is feasible, be sure to consider who the potential members of the business will be, as well as what products or services the business will deliver.
Next, you will need to consider carefully whether a co-operative model is right for you.
It’s a good idea to consider the financial base of your planned organisation: Will the co-operative be for profit or not for profit? Does it need capital investment?
Getting these matters settled before launching your co-operative is essential.