Keys to Successfully Create a Cooperative

It is increasingly common for groups of workers to organize to acquire the company in which they work or set up a similar company to continue with the same activity.

Share Give it a Spin!
Follow by Email

The crisis that some companies go through makes many workers, who had never thought of starting, finally take this step. And they end up triumphing with a business similar to that of their bosses, when they end up closing. The explanation? Because many companies do not close because of lack of customers or business, but because they are not profitable enough for the capital, but they can be profitable for the workers. In the same way that the investor expects a return of 25% and the company gives a 10% or does not give anything. Simply, it gives to maintain the jobs and reinvest in the purchase of material and in the maintenance of the company. And that, when the company is a cooperative, is enough. Here you can read the steps you have to take to start a cooperative, but there are also a series of strategic reflections that you have to do before:


To know if the reconversion is possible, we must analyze well what are the causes for which our bosses are seeing themselves in difficulties. If it is good professionals and the company they come from has not closed because their product in the market is no longer of interest, let them go ahead. That is, if I make a product that the market wants, that is sold, that is good and we know how to do it and we are good professionals, it is 80% to move the project forward. Of course, before you have to do a good business feasibility study. Equality the viability is not in keeping all the jobs. Equal 50 employees must be reduced to 40. Analyze why it has closed.

To know if the company can move forward, what is usually done is to analyze the income statement. There are many cases in which the company has ceased to be viable because it was over-indebted in times of boom and with the crisis has fallen billing and can not cope with the debts. Imagine a company that requested 10 million euros of financing, when it was billing 20 million. It is 50% indebted. In a crisis situation, your billing is reduced. It generates five million but it must 10. If it should zero, with a volume of activity of five million its profit and loss account says that the company is profitable.


In cases like this, workers have several alternatives: set up their own business from scratch, acquire the company of their bosses or buy only a part. You can sell the company in block, as a functioning company. Or just like a productive line, or a geographical area. You have to put the scalpel and analyze the accounts well. Separate the different activities and assess what is profitable and what is not. And what is not profitable closes and liquidates.

If we decide to buy the company, what happens to your debts? The new owners are not obliged to assume them. Only those that have to do with workers, seniority, and those that have been generated with Social Security for the contribution of these workers. The rest, no. If there are debts with the Treasury, they do not travel. If there are debts with suppliers, either.

The issue of debts is essential for the new company to succeed. Therefore, you have to look at the liability well. See if you have debts and why you have failed. Because it is not the same to invest 20,000 euros of capitalization of unemployment and start from scratch, to start with less I do not know how many thousands of euros.


So far, the friendly side of these restructurings. Now the problems come. The main one is that, normally, these people remain orphans of whoever ran the company, unless it was a worker who at that time was managing the business as a managing director and wants to stay in the cooperative. Another conflict is the way the cooperative system works. We are talking about a democratic company in which we will have to share decisions for the future and there are people who are not used to this new scenario. In fact there are always 5% or 15% of workers who do not join the project.

In the end it is a project like any other company. It will take a while to get it going until they agree. Therefore, many times the process does not go ahead. Unemployment can be capitalized to constitute it, but many do not enter the process because it involves a risk, they stop collecting unemployment … When the process goes ahead it is because they are older employees, do not see opportunities for relocation and there is good affinity between the workers, who have been working together for many years.

Not always that good relationship between colleagues ends well when you jump to a cooperative. In the same way that not everyone understands that being a cooperative member implies more responsibility and dedication, particularly at the beginning. That uncomfortable reality meant, in this case, the loss of seven of the 11 partners with which the cooperative started, now in expansion.


The ideal to organize the work is that each one continues to develop the role that he had been doing in the previous company and the most capable of directing. As they grow and have more knowledge and see how the company works, the rest can acquire training and assume other management roles. And if none of the workers has the capacity to take on the management of the business, a solution that usually gives good results is to look for an external person, someone who meets the conditions to be in front of the company as an employee, in this case as an employee. director for others. With the final objective, yes, that after six months or a year or a year and a half also join as a member of the cooperative. It is a fantastic solution because the person we put forward has management skills, financial knowledge … The cooperative members are left to direct the general policy of the cooperative and control the work that this person does, but the management of the products, the sales , financial negotiation, all that, a person who has competences and capacity to do it.

Experience shows that the failure rate of these companies is low. They are born with a higher resistance index than they normally have, because they already come from a difficult situation. Their promoters are people who have seen themselves on the street and who have given themselves a second chance that makes them stronger.