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7 Essential Skills for the Cooperative Entrepreneur


The impact corona has had on businesses across Canada has made collaborative and cooperative initiatives more relevant and necessary today. A cooperative entrepreneur sees the unmet needs of their communities and reaches out to their peers and neighbours to respond to these changing needs. Cooperative entrepreneurship involves developing essential skills so that they may get back on their feet despite the crisis and make the necessary changes to overcome the challenges they face in these circumstances.

Read on to learn some essential skills cooperative entrepreneurs must develop to stay resilient in the new normal.


Effective Communication

At RedStar Strategies we view leadership as a practice based on accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve purpose under conditions of uncertainty. To navigate uncertainty and enable others to achieve purpose, cooperative entrepreneurs learn to set and communicate goals and strategies, to coach and develop others, manage team performance, but also to make space for others to be heard. Democratic decision-making in a cooperative enterprise works best when the members feel empowered to express their opinions, suggest tactical or strategic changes, and provide feedback on ways to improve worker conditions or operational efficiency.

Effective communication is thus a two-way street.


If leadership is enabling others to achieve purpose, coaching is our preferred way of enabling others. The cooperative entrepreneur will undoubtedly run into challenges, as failure, conflict, and obstacles are often inevitable in building a cooperative enterprise; coaching is a means of helping individuals and teams work through these challenges.

The role of the coach is to help people find their own solutions; rather than offering advice, coaches ask questions to get people to uncover the answers in themselves and use their own resources to meet challenges. The purpose of coaching is to enable others to build their own capacity to lead, so they can coach others, and so on. In this way, coaching is synonymous with leadership development and so is key for building scalable, sustainable, worker self-directed enterprises.

Emotional Intelligence

It’s normal to try and avoid pain and seek comfort, but cooperative entrepreneurs see things differently. They take risks where others play it safe. They ask questions and seek answers where others see the status quo. They snub comfort zones in the name of progress, even when it means potential failure.

Talent, knowledge, skills, and experience may be building blocks of success but often it’s the mental tools that help cooperative entrepreneurs learn to cope with challenges — high emotional intelligence helps them adapt well in the face of trauma, tragedy or significant stress. It is learning how to face failure. Over time, successful people learn not only how to overcome but to embrace these challenges.

Project Management

Cooperative entrepreneurs often begin with an idea. For them, the challenge lies in translating this idea into a sustainable collaborative effort.

This is where project management comes in.

Learning how to formulate strategy, how to choose the right tactics, how to allocate resources, and putting it all together on a project timeline helps to arrive from Point A (idea) to Point B (execution).

Trend and Data Analysis

Learning to read patterns and how to respond to changing trends is vital to any cooperative enterprise trying to establish itself in the community. Needs evolve rapidly and cooperative entrepreneurs with the skills to stay on top of these changes and how to use them as an opportunity allows for the cooperative to more effectively meet the needs of its members and their communities.

By keeping track of industry and local news they can stay on top of growing trends and use this data to their advantage. There are various online tools to help plan out marketing strategies and target trending terms to build awareness.

Risk Assessment

When starting a new project cooperative entrepreneurs will hit speed bumps and may face many challenges. No matter how well one has planned or how carefully one has considered the range of tactics, unexpected circumstances will create barriers to success that need to be overcome. Knowing this means that cooperative entrepreneurs can budget for unexpected expenses, use data to their advantage, and prepare their team for unexpected twists.

The Desire to Improve The World

In the end, the best and most enduring motivator is to change the world. When cooperative entrepreneurs focus their professional goals and their success on that top priority, they’ll find themselves ready to weather any storm to meet the goal. Cooperative entrepreneurship allows them to build community and ultimately to change the world; this has a positive experience on entrepreneurs as well as they gain new skills, grow a business, and build democracy at work.

Key Takeaways

The good news is, every cooperative entrepreneur can pick up and refine these skills, it only takes practice. The cooperative enterprise, by distributing leadership and decision-making, is an environment in which entrepreneurs can practice these skills regularly and therefore allows for people to improve these skills but more so, it is an environment where people can flourish.



Originally published Nov. 22, 2020


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