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Demand for the cooperative's products or services must generate enough revenue to cover the costs of operating the business, and to offset the risks of member equity investment.

How Do You Start a Cooperative?

Starting a cooperative presents a unique opportunity for a group of people to meet a common economic need or opportunity.

A group may be able to better provide the required skills and financial resources, as well as the support and persistence, to get a new business up and running. And working together to meet a common challenge can provide the intangible but meaningful rewards that come from contributing to a larger common good.

Cooperative businesses are subject to the same market forces and economic conditions that other businesses face. Demand for the cooperative’s products or services must generate profit levels that offset both the costs of operating the business, and the risks associated with investing in a new enterprise.

As with any new business venture, starting a cooperative requires good ideas, many kinds of expertise, time, energy and money. Typically, it takes from six months to two years or longer for a new co-op to go from initial concept to beginning operations.

Depending on the scale of the project, outside experts in cooperative organization, financing and business knowledge may be critical.

Starting a cooperative can present challenges, too. People will bring many different perspectives to the cooperative development process. The common interest that runs through these differences must be identified, and developed into a single vision and direction through effective communications and effectively working together as a group.

The effectiveness of future decision-making about the cooperative’s priorities and direction will be influenced by how clearly the co-op identifies its goals and the specific benefits its members will receive.

Steps for Start-ups

Start-up Resources

Factors for Success