For many years, many people around the world have used co-operatives as a way of combining their energy, skills, and resources to reach shared goals and fullfil common needs. Some reasons why people form coops include:
(a) Lower the cost of business supplies and consumer goods. Because business service co-ops and consumer supply co-ops buy in bulk, members benefit from lower costs on everything from food to fertilizers.
(b) Start their own businesses and create their own jobs. Worker co-ops are enterprises owned and operated by their employees. Worker co-ops can be formed for any business purpose, from carpentry to film production.
(c) Get better prices for products and services. By forming marketing or producer co-ops, people can earn more from their products and services by selling directly to the public. These co-ops also help producers lower their marketing and distribution costs.
(d) Obtain convenient, reasonably priced services such as child care and social support services.
No matter what kind of co-op your group is starting, a solid business plan will help you reach your goals. Working on a plan is an opportunity for your group to think carefully about the most efficient way in which your co-op can produce and deliver its products and services.
Who will buy your co-op’s products or use its services? To answer this question, you will have to research your market and decide how to attract that market’s interest. More specifically:
(a) What products or services is your co-op’s market now buying or using?
(b) How can your co-op improve on the products or services already available?
(c) What is the size, site, and potential growth of the market for your co-op’s goods or services?
(d) How can your co-op increase demand for its products and services?
What does your co-op need to produce its goods and services, such as land, buildings, and equipment, projected bills for electricity, water, and heat,
Will your co-op need to hire management and staff? Do your members have the necessary skills?
The financial part of your co-op’s business plan estimates the amount of money needed to operate. Most of the figures you need to make these estimates are in the other parts of your co-op’s plan. This also includes do you plan to raise equity.
Who will your members be?
Do you have the right mix?
Do the members know the rights and obligations of cooperatives, including the cooperative principles?
The Cooperative statute is the rule book of your organisation. You need to start preparing for one.