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Up and Running
For Boards of Directors Templates for Boards How to issue dividends Sample Co-op Equity Statement A Guide to Co-operative Insurance How to Read Financial Statements Keeping track of members in a co-op Everything you need to know about managing records Board Governance Tips for Indigenous Co-operatives Sample Bookkeeper Contract How to write a Board of Directors’ Code of Conduct  Write a compliance checklist Member Engagement and Onboarding Guidelines for co-operative elections Filing your Annual Return Co-operative Annual General Meetings Ongoing Capitalization How to allocate your co-op’s profits

Creating an action plan

So you’ve formed a steering committee. Now what? Figuring out where to start can be overwhelming.

A big group project, like forming a co-operative, often requires some legwork and outreach. However, making an action plan and delegating tasks can help the committee coordinate the first phase of a co-op start-up and navigate any hurdles.

To help make this process a little clearer, here’s a list of possible tasks to get you started.

First, compile a toolkit to help you along. Consider including the following:

  • Between three and 10 dedicated leaders
  • Somewhere to store files for everyone to share (like Notion or Google Docs, for example)
  • A scanner or scanning app on your phone (we like CamScanner)
  • At least one laptop and projector
  • 1-2 vigorous notetakers
  • 1 Co-operatives First team member
  • Possibly a flipchart or two
  • Pens and paper
  • Lots of coffee
  • The best of intentions

Next, sit down as a team and decide how to work through the following action items.

(Once you’re ready to begin incorporating the co-op, check out our incorporation service.

Or, if you prefer to do it yourself, try one of our work plans for the province you are incorporating in:





To incorporate federally, try this one here.)




  • Conduct a survey
  • Present findings
  • Clarify a purpose
It’s a good idea to seek feedback on your business idea to gauge interest. Create a survey and check in with potential members. With the results, you can host a meeting to get more feedback. Work towards distilling the discussion to a clear purpose that the business will help achieve.
Budget Planning

  • Identify start-up costs
  • Create a member equity plan
  • Begin searching for grants
Crunch the numbers. Begin compiling a list of start-up costs and potential sources of revenue. If you need help with a business plan or feasibility study, consider applying for support from us.

  • Identify ways of raising the capital required to start the co-operative.
  • List entities that might provide investment, loans, or other fundraising opportunities.
After you know how much money you need to raise to get up and running, it’s time to figure out how to raise those funds. There are many options, from loans to investment equity and member shares to donations, but not all are relevant to every venture. So, choose wisely. If you need help with a business plan or feasibility study, consider applying for support from us.
Governance Planning

  • Identify ownership group
  • Draft an org chart
  • Present for feedback
Identify who the co-op’s members should be and begin creating an organizational chart. To learn more about governance, consider taking our governance course. Or try our governance tool.
Business Planning   

  • Early market research
  • Identify consultant/support
  • Begin business planning
This step is a bit challenging but entirely doable with the right people and support. Hiring a third-party consultant to help is a good idea. Consider applying for support from us or start your own using our online business planning tool
Choose a Name

  • Compile legal framework
  • Engage potential members
  • Select the best option

Task a committee member to organize a process for naming the co-op. They can check provincial regulations to find out what has to be in the co-op’s name and then check in with potential members to get some suggestions. Have the committee vote on their favourite using a dotmocracy exercise.


  • Reserve a name
  • File articles
  • Draft bylaws
Begin drafting articles of incorporation. Reserve the name with your government’s corporate registry and begin thinking about other processes that need to be captured in the co-op’s bylaws. Search “bylaws” and the province you’re incorporating in to find a guide to writing bylaws. Or have us do the heaving lifting for you and try our incorporation service.

Take a moment to celebrate the co-op’s incorporation.


Membership Start-up

Set up an e-mail account and put together a member registry. Once there’s a system in place for accepting payment for memberships, the co-op can begin selling membership shares.
Finance Start-up

  • Set up a bank account
  • Incorporators deposit
  • Compile a list of funders
Set up a bank account and collect membership fees from incorporating members. Then, monitor the new memberships the co-op issues. Now is also the time to start applying for loans, pitching investors, or soliciting donations.


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