Working up and testing the idea: Is this a co-operative?

Once you have your big idea, there are two things that you need to test at this stage:

  • Is this a viable business? [previous section]

  • Is this a co-operative? [below]

Is this a co-operative?

If this is your idea, your business and you want to keep control? Then maybe a co-operative isn't for you.

However if you are open to involving others with the same level of ownership and control, recognising that this can allow so much more for viability and accountability, then a quick run through the co-operative principles as a checklist should reassure that you're on the right track.

Further exploration

At this stage, it is useful to undertake some sort of visioning process with those involved. This has the following outcomes:

  • It ensures that the people involved have a common vision – better to find out now if not.
  • Your defined vision may be something that you will use in your marketing as part of your USP.
  • Your vision will lead to specific objects – what you will achieve and how. These will be an important part of the governing document of your legal structure.
  • Your vision, mission and objects can be linked to what you actually accomplish – your social impact. You may want to measure and report on this.

See also: Feasibility study: Define social impact

It is also useful to test your vision using some sort of group exploration of the factors affecting your proposed co-operative enterprise. There are many such exercises, but typically a SWOT analysis is used to explore the Strengths and Weaknesses of your enterprise now, the Opportunities and Threats in the future and how you are going to deal with all of the above.

This is often a useful piece of information to include in the business plan that you will create later.

See the following relevant sections for additional information and useful downloads

The above infographics have been reproduced with permission from, and originally created by, Mark Simmonds for Transition Enterprise Handbook on behalf of the Transition Network.

Updated: 15/02/2017