Once you've got your committee in place you're ready to begin the important business planning, choosing a legal structure and raising finance. At this stage, we also recommend joining us as a member. You become part of a growing network of community co-operatives who have all been through the same things as you and can offer you support and advice. We can also offer you some great benefits on key things for your co-operative like energy packages, accountancy, insurance and banking - we work closely with a range of partners on this so that we can offer you substantial savings and support. Read more about membership here. 

Selecting a legal structure

When you've decided what type of enterprise your community needs it's time to adopt a recognised legal structure to enable you to trade. Once incorporated as a legal entity the co-operative provides limited liability to those involved, taking away the risk to committee members. The majority of community co-operatives opt for the Community Benefit Society structure, but other forms include Company Limited by Guarantee and large membership Community Interest Companies, although these structures do not give you the same ability to raise finance through community share offers. You can read more about the Community Benefit Society and other legal structures in our tools and resources section below. 

Identify suitable premises

Not all communities will be able to select their premises, as they may have no other options, or they might be setting up an enterprise to save a particular asset, like a pub or a farm. But for a number of communities, finding suitable premises will be a key task. You can consider a wide range of options, such as:

  • Temporary structures like portable buildings, shipping containers or wood cabins
  • New buildings
  • Converting or extending an existing building
  • Taking over existing premises
  • Sharing space with another enterprise

Working up a business plan

A business plan is a valuable tool for setting our your aims and objectives, and will also include things like financial forecasts. We can help you with this and provide you with templates from other successful co-operatives. 

Raising finance

We encourage all communities to consider a combination of funding sources including donations, grants, loans and shares. We can help you explore all your options, including the increasingly popular community shares route. Community shares are sold through a Community Benefit Society and are an innovative way of raising the highest proportion of start-up captial needed. Co-operative pubs have used this method to raise over £6 million so far. You can read more about this in our tools below. 

Next Steps

Once you've done the planning, it's time to get ready to trade!


Useful resources