Zero to Co-op program

Welcome to the Zero to Co-op program! Below you will find the self-directed co-op curriculum. This curriculum was designed in a partnership between CCE and the TESA Collective. The Zero to Co-op program is designed for start-up co-ops, and it can also be utilized by existing co-ops looking to improve their operations and governance. Each workshop and activity is editable and customizable. While they all provide guidance around timing, learning goals, and objectives, these are suggestions, and you should feel free to adjust the content and structure to fit your needs. Enjoy the curriculum, and please reach out if you have any questions or need further assistance.

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Zero to Co-op

Phase I

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Initial Co-op Organizing Meeting

This agenda is designed to help prepare your group for an initial meeting of potential co-op members. The goal of this initial meeting is to both get to know each other, discuss co-ops and cooperative structures, while also organizing folks into different committees and work groups.

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Get Co-op Committees Worksheet

Values Workshop

This agenda is designed to help your group develop a shared understanding of what values you all bring as individuals, and how you want your co-op to embody those values. The goal of this meeting is to both get to know more about each other’s values, and discuss how the co-op could reflect and live up to those values.

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Get Co-op Values Breakout Group Discussion Guide Worksheet

Conducting Key Individual Interviews

This activity is designed to support your group in developing and executing key individual interviews in your community. Interviewing community members can build trust and awareness in your community. Furthermore, these interviews are a way to map out key resources, stakeholders, and start evaluating the feasibility of your business. Whether your group is still adding potential members in this exploratory phase, or you are a closed group with a defined purpose and vision, discussing the different stakeholder groups in your industry and community is an essential process.

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Get Interview Scenarios Worksheet

Business Model Canvas Workshop

This activity is designed to support your group in starting a business model canvas. A business model canvas is an excellent tool to help your group identify and explore the different elements and practices of your business, and see them all on one page. Filling out the business model canvas is an iterative process, you will keep revising, adding, and changing the canvas as you learn more about your co-op’s different value propositions. The business model canvas is a great first step towards developing a more comprehensive business plan, and is often a tool that funders or developers want to see.

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Get Worksheet: Business Model Canvas for Cooperatives

Get Worksheet: Business Model Canvas for Cooperatives – Questions

Zero to Co-op

Phase II

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Finances I: Mapping out Expenses

This agenda is designed to help your group explore the costs of starting your business, and to discuss how to meet those costs as a cooperative group. This workshop is designed to follow the initial meeting(s) with your group, the forming of committees, and the completion of Key Individual Surveys. The committees your co-op has formed will be central to this workshop, and their work will guide this workshop. Some questions this workshop will cover: what are the costs of starting this? What do we need to buy? How can these costs be fairly spread among the members? Can we cover these costs with outside funds or creative resources? This workshop provides an opportunity for members to build financial literacy as a whole group, and to plan how to carry this work forward through the Finance Committee or other group process.

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Get Committee Budget Focus Areas Worksheet

Finances II: Revenue and Expenses

This agenda is designed to help your group identify and explore revenue streams and projections. This workshop is designed to follow the first Finance Workshop (Finances I: Getting Started with Expenses), so it will be important to complete the committee work on start-up costs and expenses before starting this workshop – the committees your co-op has formed will be central to this workshop, and their work will guide this process. Some questions this workshop will cover: what are our revenue streams? Who are our customers? What assumptions are we making? How much revenue do we project and why? How can we make accurate projections? How does our revenue compare with our expenses? This workshop provides an opportunity for members to build financial literacy as a whole group, and to plan how to carry this work forward through the Finance Committee or other group process.

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Get Identifying Revenue Streams Worksheet

Get Identifying Revenue Streams Worksheet

Sales Funnel Activity

This activity is designed to guide you through the process of completing a sales funnel for your co-op. A sales funnel is a tool that allows you to create a visual representation of the customer development process. The widest part of the funnel represents the period when potential customers first learn about your product or service, and the funnel narrows to represent the moment when a potential customer makes a purchase to when they become a repeat customer. The sales funnel uses language for a business providing services, and it can be easily modified for a product focus as well. This tool will help you develop your marketing strategy, and more effectively analyze your client/sales conversion process. The sales funnel image below is borrowed from the Worcester Roots Co-op Academy Program, with graphic design by the TESA Collective. Before starting this activity, your co-op group should complete the Finance and Marketing Workshops.

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COGs Activity

Finances III: Developing a Budget

This agenda is designed to help your group begin to develop a budget for your co-op. This workshop is designed to follow the first two Finance Workshop (Finances I: Getting Started with Expenses and Finances II: Revenue and Expenses), so it will be important to complete the committee work on start-up costs, expenses and revenue projections before starting this workshop – the committees your co-op has formed will be central to this workshop, and their work will guide this process. Some questions this workshop will cover: What assumptions are we making? How does our revenue compare with our expenses? What is a budget? Why is it important to develop a budget? What does an initial budget for our co-op look like? This workshop provides an opportunity for members to build financial literacy as a whole group, and to plan how to carry this work forward through the Finance Committee or other group process.

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Get Co-op Monthly Budget + Cash Flow Template: How Can We Make More Money? A Values Based Finance Education Kit

Zero to Co-op

Phase III

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Marketing Workshop I

This activity is designed to guide your group through the process of analyzing your market, and developing a plan for how to effectively reach and communicate with your customers. This is part 1 of a 2 part workshop series on marketing. In this workshop, your group will develop marketing goals, conduct a SWOT analysis, and explore the who, what, when, and where about your customers. The outcomes of this workshop can be used to complete a marketing plan.

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Get Customer Profile Worksheet

Get Analyzing Your Competition Worksheet

Marketing Workshop II

This activity is designed to guide your group through the process of analyzing your market, and developing a plan for how to effectively reach and communicate with your customers. This is part 2 of a 2 part workshop series on marketing. In this workshop, your group will begin to develop a plan to achieve your marketing goals, with a specific focus on communication strategies and digital marketing. The outcomes of this workshop can be used to complete a marketing plan.

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Get Digital Marketing Worksheet

Pro Forma Activity

This activity is designed to guide you through the process of developing a Pro-Forma for your co-op. A Pro-Forma is a tool that allows you to create short and long-term projections for your co-op based on the work you have already done on your market research and financial calculations. Much like a budget, a Pro-Forma uses your financial calculations and assumptions to develop financial projections and is a powerful tool in business development. Furthermore, a Pro-Forma is often requested by lenders, so it is also a tool that will most likely be necessary if you are thinking about borrowing money. You will notice that this Pro-Forma template is designed for a retail co-op, but it can easily be adjusted for different business types or industry sectors. Before starting this activity, your co-op group should complete the Finance and Marketing Workshops. The Pro-Forma being used here was developed by the Democracy at Work Institute in 2015.

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Get Pro Forma Template

Business Plan Workshop

This agenda is designed to help your group develop a business plan for your co-op. The business plan is a culmination of your work so far in the Zero to Co-op program, and will incorporate a wide range of the work you have done so far, ranging from financial projections and pro-forma, to your interviews and market research. You will be using a business model template developed by BCCO for the Worcester Roots Academy. This business plan is available via cultivate.coop.

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Get Business Plan Template

Zero to Co-op

Additional Resources