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Things to think about before starting a co-operative
Remember, a co-operative is a business. Before you spend too much time energy and money on your co-operative idea, and certainly before you involve business advisors, you need to have considered the following questions:
Questions about the people involved:
- Who will be involved and how?
- Particularly who will own and control the co-operative?
- Do you need to involve more people now?
- Do these people exist?
- Why are they involved?
- What is their motivation?
- Does everyone want exactly the same thing, and if not is this a problem?
Answers to these questions will give you and anyone who helps you a good idea as to what the structure of your co-operative will be.
Questions about your business idea:
- What is the co-operative going to do?
- What is the need, product or service?
- Is there a demand for it?
- Is anyone else already doing it?
- Can you supply the need, product or service competitively?
- Have you thought about how you are going to finance the start-up?
Answers to these questions will allow you to see whether there may be a workable business idea here and whether it is worth putting more work into the idea. You may need to refine the idea or even return back to the drawing board. You may also discover at this point that what you intend to do would be more suited to a voluntary or community group, which whilst it could be run co-operatively would not be a co-operative business.