Own the Change is a short and free documentary about what worker cooperatives are and how to start them, which TESA created alongside the Laura Flanders Show. It surveys people from across the country who have started their own worker cooperatives as well as those who are generally helping to build the worker co-op movement. The interviewees discuss the real world benefits and challenges of running a cooperative as well as launching one. It’s 20 minutes and completely free, making it a great primer for getting basic ideas down and helping you figure out how to get started.
2) Take the Free “Zero to Co-op” Course
We created the Zero to Co-op program in partnership with the Carolina Common Enterprise (CCE). It is a self-directed co-op curriculum, which is completely free if you sign up for CCE’s newsletter. (Which itself is very useful!). The Zero to Co-op program is primarily designed for people starting new co-ops, though it can also be used by existing co-ops who want to strengthen their operations. Presented over three phases, the self-administered curriculum has topics ranging from “Initial Co-op Organizing Meeting” to “Developing a Meeting.” This is a great crash course resource that we’re proud to have played a part in creating!
3) Read This Worker Co-op Start-Up Guide
“Think Outside the Boss: How to Create a Worker Owned Enterprise” is a great and free manual, revised in 2016, by the Sustainable Economies Law Center. It’s a 136 page PDF, so it really goes in depth! Get your beverage of choice and favorite highlighter, because this guide excels in getting into the detail on a number of important nitty gritty topics.
4) Connect with Co-op Peers Through The Worker Co-op Clinic
Run by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (of which we are a member), the Co-op Clinic brings together a network of peer advisors—people who are members of worker-owned cooperatives—to help others launch and run worker co-ops of their own. This is an amazing resource, because it helps people who are starting a worker co-op connect directly with experts in what they are going through.
According to the USFWC Co-op Clinic:
Though we can support you in all-around small business areas, we specialize in technical assistance that cooperatives need specifically: decision-making, co-op finances, boards, bylaws and more.
Our staff and peer advisors can help you…
-Create a roadmap for starting or converting to a cooperative.
-Find the right structure and governance for your democratic workplace.
-Get training in cooperative finances.
-Become loan ready.
-Finish your business plan.
-Create policies that work for your team.
The Co-op Clinic also has many informative and free online webinar recordings covering a wide range of topics for starting and running a worker co-op.
5) Play Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives