I’m wanting to start a cooperative and I know you have done it many times over as stated in your posts. Where is a good point to start and what advice could you give on starting and maintaining one?

Cooperatives can take many forms and adopt many start-up methods, from collective funding, to traditional bank loans.

My advice on the front end is solid documentation and record keeping; and make sure your core co-op members are properly vetted, and down for the long haul.  Don’t allow your eagerness and enthusiasm to cause you to make mistake.  Even though you are developing a cooperative enterprise you still have to operative in and navigate a “capitalistic” economic environment.  It’s not really capitalist, but that’s what we’ve all agreed to call the US economy, so will run with that. 

You will need to to the research in the particular business you are starting, is it wholesale or retail, will you be producing, or buying you products, where will you source your materials, how long will you have to fund the operation before it turns a profit and how will the profits be reinvested or distributed to the co-op members? Will you hire employees or will the co-op be fully staffed by co-op members? 

Most of the requirements of a co-op are the same as any other enterprise except co-ops have a larger social justice component to their enterprise and they are owned and governed communally. 

Most of my experience has been in being a member of a food cooperative, my ventures into owning a cooperatively owned and operated martial arts studio were not successfully but I gained a wellspring of insights and experiences; the most important thing I learned is make sure you co-op members understand ownership vs. employment, which some of our core members didn’t understand and it cause the co-op to be disbanded prematurely. 

I’m sorry I can’t give more spicific advice, but I don’t want to steer you wrong, and not knowing what type of enterprise your cooperative will be engaged in, or the particular from your co-op will take, I can’t really offer you more….hell, even if I did I don’t know if I could.  LoL.

I do encourage you to move forward with your ambitions tho, cooperatives will be essential in establishing economic power for the underclass that have been deemed unemployable by the corporatist.

Co-ops are the future of local and regional economies, mark my words.