Go to main content

Start a cooperative

Start a cooperative

If you are a group of people who wish to start a company together, you can start a cooperative. In a cooperative, you share ownership and responsibility.

A cooperative is not a form of business like a limited company, a trading partnership or an economic association, but a way of organising and running a business. A cooperative can be owned by individuals, companies and associations in different combinations.

Different types of cooperatives

Values

Cooperatives are based on the values of self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, democracy, equality, fairness and solidarity. Ethical values are also important in the cooperative. The cooperative principles are guidelines for how a cooperative can put values into action.

Economic association most common

A cooperative can be run in any business form, but the most common is the economic association. In an economic association, at least three people, companies and/or associations are co-owners/members. The business form is designed to suit cooperatives. It allows the number of co-owners/members to grow and shrink quickly and easily. An economic association also allows all co-owners/members of the company to have equal influence.

Shared responsibility in good times and bad

In a cooperative, all co-owners/members have an equal say, and should benefit equally from being involved. The strength of the cooperative is that more people share the responsibilities and difficulties as well as the successes. No one can gain an advantage by investing more. 

Getting started

The idea behind the cooperative should be formulated as a business concept and a budget should be drawn up. You should also think about how to handle the financing and in which channels the marketing should take place.

Get free advice on cooperatives from Coompanion

In the cooperative, you and the other co-owners/members jointly make decisions regarding the company, with all your combined experience and knowledge. Of course, this increases your involvement, but it also requires participation and openness in the start-up process.

Joint planning

Owning a business together has the advantage that you can benefit from each other's skills and experience. Together you also have a larger network than anyone could create on their own. In order to make the most of what everyone has to offer, it is important to plan carefully together at the start-up stage. Ask questions such as: What tasks exist in the company? Who should do what? What needs to be done and when? Allocate work and responsibilities, and describe to each other how you want to make decisions.

Partnership agreement

A partnership agreement may be useful, depending on the business activities and what form of business you choose. The agreement is tailored to your business and sets out how you will act when unexpected events occur that may affect your operations. The partnership agreement sets out how wages are paid, how decisions are made and what happens if someone leaves the company.

  • Which parties are involved?
  • What are the short-term and long-term objectives of the partnership?
  • How much equity should be involved? Will the co-owners take a salary at start-up?
  • How should profits and savings be handled?
  • What requirements should be placed on each other in the event of a crisis?
  • How should decisions be made, and on what basis?
  • How should management be organised? How, for example, are the CEO/senior executives appointed?