If you feel like this co-op stuff sounds pretty good, but you’re not sure where to start, this is the page for you. Here, you’ll find very short videos, very long videos, and all points in between. Both the dynamics of workplace democracy and the mechanics of running a business are addressed, as well as some of the more elusive aspects, like business growth. There’s no need to watch these in order — choose the ones that fit your need at the moment. Note the separate sections for start-ups and conversions.
We’re creating this video library in large part as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you like it, or if there are changes or additions you’d like to see to it, we would really appreciate your feedback. In coming months, we hope to be able to connect you with local experts over live videoconferencing so you can ask very specific questions.
We begin with our own Co-ops 101 video, created by Charity Schmidt. This is a great overview of worker co-ops, with a focus on Madison.
- Co-op 101: Starting a Worker Cooperative with the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC) 42:12. Charity gives an intro to what worker co-ops are, discusses lots of local examples, and explains how MCDC can help you start one.
The UW Center for Cooperatives has a very useful series of recorded webinars on co-ops in general.
- Co op Directors 101 Cooperative Finance 101 1:02:21. The UW Center for Cooperatives gives an overview of cooperative finance including defining terms, reading financial statements, questions boards should ask and tools for monitoring financial performance including reports and key indicators.Co op Directors 101
- Webinar: Tools for an Effective Board 1:01:07. The UW Center for Cooperatives’ presentation on strategies for developing an efficient board including meeting agendas and facilitation, committees, and maintaining a healthy board culture. We will review key elements of effective decision-making.
- Co-op Directors 101 Webinar: Roles and Responsibilities 1:01:12. The UW Center for Cooperatives’ presentation on the different functions performed by directors including fiduciary and oversight responsibilities. We will review the relationships between the board, management, and members.
There are many other useful videos out there, as well. Most of these are specifically about worker co-ops, but a few are about start-up businesses in general.
- Brief introductions to worker co-ops
- Worker co-ops in more detail
- Nut and bolts of running a co-op
- Starting and expanding a business
- Converting an existing business to a worker co-op
Brief introductions to worker co-ops
- What is a Workers’ Co-operative? 5:37. Unemployed and underemployed people start a co-op in the tourist town of Stradford, Ontario. A good explanation of why and how.
- How Worker Cooperatives Work 7:25. A more theoretical explanation of the advantages of a worker co-op. There is no sound.
- What research says about the benefits and challenges of worker cooperatives 2:48. This is a very short outtake of a longer video. Spoiler alert! The benefits far outweigh the challenges.
- The 7 Principles of Co operation 4:05. A quick but helpful summary. This cartoon video is from Ireland, because the Co-op Principles are global.
- 7 Cooperative Principles 2:26. An even shorter overview, using a real-world example from Flint, MI.
- The Mondragon Cooperatives 2:40. A very quick intro to the world’s largest community of worker co-ops.
- THIS WAY OUT: A Step By Step Guide To Starting A Workers Cooperative 6:11. Testimonials from worker-owners. This is the opening scene of a movie-length documentary, so the steps are not actually given.
- Could Worker Co-ops Fix Our Broken Economy? 6:28. A spicy and honest intro from the UK.
- Worker Co-Ops Give Employees Power 6:46. Are worker co-ops utopian?
Worker co-ops in more detail
- How to stop poverty: start a worker-owned cooperative | Jim Brown | TEDxTuscaloosa 17:40. This is a different approach to explaining worker co-ops, involving a personal testimony. The last third is quite insightful — for example, he addresses the question, “If worker co-ops are so great, why aren’t there more of them?”
- Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time 22:11. A great intro to worker co-ops, using testimonials from real-world worker-owners, including several in Madison.
- USFWC Member Orientation – Nov 25, 2019 1:01:10. A lengthy introduction to the US Federation of Worker Co-ops, the national organization of worker co-ops.
- 2019 State of the Worker Co-op Sector 53:06. A detailed description of the growth of worker co-ops from 2013 to 2018.
- Worker Ownership as a Small Business Solution during Coronavirus 52:21. Instructions on converting a business to a worker co-op, with a special focus on businesses struggling during the pandemic.
- The Mondragon Corporation: Employee Ownership as Strategy 47:32. A detailed look at Mondragon, presented by a US citizen who works there.
Nut and bolts of running a co-op
- Access to Capital Borrowing Options for Worker Co ops 1:23:52. Most of these funding options are available nationwide.
- Project Management for Workplace Democracy (ECWD 2015) 1:22:39. If your co-op is project-based, this video is highly recommended. Every time this presentation is given at a conference, the room is packed. Contact us for the Powerpoint and other materials.
Starting and expanding a business
- Business Plan for Small Businesses | How to Write a Business Plan 12:21. Why a business plan is important, and what decisions you need to make.
- Understanding Financial Statements and Accounting: Crash Course Entrepreneurship #15 12:43. The basics of financial documents.
- DO’S AND DON’TS OF STARTING AN ONLINE BUSINESS! | LIFE OF AN ENTREPRENEUR EP. 7 17:42. Simple, practical tips for people who are very early in the process.
- How to Grow a Small Business: growth marketing for startups (Part I) 11:01 (Part 2) 9:00. Very useful advice, especially for those early in the process.
Converting an existing business to a worker co-op
- Cooperatives & Business Succession Strategies 57:45. MCDC’s own Courtney Berner presents co-ops as a business success strategy, complete with a real-life example.
- Worker Control as a Solution to COVID-19 45:08. Practical, detailed, and timely information for workers considering taking over a struggling business.
- Converting businesses to worker cooperatives: real world lessons learned 1:30:02. A lengthy and detailed look at several case studies.
- Selling a Small Business to a Worker Co-op: the Basics 52:36. Useful information, especially for getting the owner and workers on the same page.
- Worker Co-ops. Another way to exit a business? 27:50. Oriented to business owners.
- Jasmin joins me to discuss her experience helping to finance worker co-op conversions 27:39. The funding of a conversion, as seen by a funder.
- Converting to Worker Co-op A Slice of New York 2017 48:38. The former sole owner of a pizza shop in California talks frankly about how his business became a co-op.
- Conversion of Businesses to Cooperatives or ESOPs 1:04:40. A talk on converting a business to a co-op. Also includes a comparison of co-ops and ESOPs.
- Worker Co-op Conversion: Tools Available and the Resources in Place – Roy Messing 18:48. Conversion to a worker co-op is a really good choice for business succession, but it takes considerable preparation.