Creating a More ‘Cooperative’ Business

Cooperative retail businesses (such as natural foods co-ops) have fared reasonably well through recent economic troubles. One reason for this relative immunity could be that the very nature of a cooperative is to provide a desired service or product in the community where it resides. Cooperatives are born because people in the community come together to start one.
There is a symbiotic relationship between a cooperatively-run business and its customers, and it is precisely this that enables the business to flourish, even in the worst of times. So, how does this information relate to an entrepreneur and his or her desire to start or grow a business? To demonstrate, it might be helpful to look at some of the key ingredients that make a cooperative work.
A co-op focuses on people rather than on profit.
The bottom line for a co-op is to serve its member-owners (equity-holding customers) and the general community. Profit is important to maintain and grow the business, but decisions are focused on how they will affect the members of the co-op and the surrounding community rather than how they will make the business more profitable.
To apply this to your own business, think about the decisions that you make. Your business has a tight budget, and the economy is still on shaky ground. You think of reducing staff hours or eliminating a position, simply because this seems to solve your problem. But, if you are focusing on people rather than profit, could an amenity or non-essential be cut instead of directly affecting the employee’s income? Perhaps allowing staff to telecommute would allow for reducing costly office space. It is in ways like this that innovative, unconventional thinking can help maintain profitability while keeping the community happily employed.
Natural foods cooperatives are focused on the “buy local, support local” concept.
They do this to support local producers and to stimulate their community. There are several reasons why re-directing your efforts locally is a good idea for your Business Tips Of The Day. First, when you utilize local vendors, you are pumping cash into your own community. Second, you help employ more people in the area, making the community a much happier, safer place to reside. You ensure a better economic future for your family, friends, and neighbors.
If you are in the planning stages of your business, consider locating in a rural and/or impoverished area. You will stimulate the local economy no matter how small you are. Not only would you create jobs as you grow, you might be entitled to incentives from local and federal government programs. If you commit to green practices, there are even more opportunities for your business.
A co-op is a “jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” A�
Another cooperative concept your business can learn from is ownership. Although your company is beholden to its investors, certain practices can be democratically shared. Whole Foods Market does a fine job of bridging the co-op model with a traditional approach. Employees are team members, and everyone gets a chance to have their voice heard. They even offer a pseudo-form of ownership through profit-sharing. Employees are motivated to work harder and more effectively for their company because they can get a share of company profit. It’s another way your company can give back to the community, and it’s a great way to ensure staff loyalty.
Profit can have many meanings.
Placing the people in your organization and in the local community above profit doesn’t mean disregarding the importance of profit. It means that whatever profit you make has come as a reward for being part of a socially responsible Efinancialcareers News. When your business becomes the means of bringing greater purpose to you and the people you work and live with, isn’t that the most rewarding form of profit?
A� From the International Co-operative Alliance identity statement.

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