Description of Business

Elevator Pitch

In 1-2 sentences give the reader an overview of your business.

Trading Name

Provide the name you use for everyday business.

Legal Name

Provide the name of your co-operative as it appears on your certificate of incorporation.

Contact Information

List the contact information for your business: your address, e-mail, and phone number.

Executive Summary

In 1-2 pages, summarize what readers need to know about your co-operative and the work you do.

  • Major Demographic, Economic, Social, and Cultural Factors

    Highlight important characteristics about the region where your business will operate. For data, draw on sources like Statistics Canada, Municipal websites, or Community Foundations Vital Signs.
  • Nature of the Industry

    Describe the industry you’re operating in. How does your business fit into this industry in your region?
  • Trends in the Marketplace

    What should the reader know about your operating area? Provide information about demands for your product, competitors, or significant demographic information.
  • Major Players

    Describe other organizations that play a significant role in your operating area. These might be competitors or other large employers or institutions that affect your business.
  • Market Segment

    Describe your co-operative’s market segment. Who are the people that will use your business? What characteristics do they have in common?
  • Products and Services

    Provide a general description of the products and services your business will offer. Use an appropriate level of detail that helps the reader understand what your business does.
  • Competitors

    Describe other organizations that play a significant role in your operating area. These might be competitors or other large employers or institutions that affect your business.
  • Risks and Response

    Identify important risks to your business. This could include economic, human resource, or environmental risks. Consult our Risk Management tool to help identify possible risks.
  • Competitive Advantage

    What sets your business apart from your competitors? Why will customers support your business over an alternative?
  • Pricing and Distribution

    Describe your products and services, your pricing strategy, and how you intend on fulfilling your customers’ orders.
  • Suppliers

    Identify the companies that will supply your business. Be sure to include companies that provide your inputs, like wholesalers and software subscriptions as well as service providers like consultants or marketing agencies.
  • Advertising and Promotion

    Describe how you will promote your business and/or your products and services. What channels will you use to inform customers about your business?
  • Employees and the Board

    Describe the people that will make your business work. Give a high-level overview of the staff your co-op will higher and provide more detail on key positions. Share some information about the board and even membership to articulate their role in the co-op.
  • Benefits and Insurance

    Outline your co-op’s benefits package, including wages, vacation policy, retirement contributions, and insurance.
  • Performance Assessment

    Identify how you’ll assess your employees’ and organization’s performance. What key performance indicators or measures of success will you look for?
  • Training and Development

    Provide an overview of the kinds of training or learning opportunities you’ll provide to your staff and board. This could include safety training, board governance programming, or technical training on using equipment.
  • Location

    Describe where your business will operate, including important built or geographic features that are necessary to your business.
  • Equipment

    Identify the equipment you’ll need to begin operating. Be sure to include larger pieces of equipment as well as important technology or software.
  • Research and Development

    Outline how you will try and improve your business and learn during your operations. Will you rely on in-house assessments to identify areas for improvement, or will you hire a consultant to provide recommendations?
  • Future Expenditures

    Identify key expenses that will be necessary to carry on your business. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list, but it should speak to major expenses.
  • Operating Inputs

    Describe the goods and services that are necessary to carry on your business. This might include ingredients, wholesale purchases, or packaging.
  • Federal

    What federal laws or regulations affect your business? Some examples might include import and export regulations, securities laws, or income taxes.
  • Provincial

    What provincial or territorial laws and regulations affect your business? Some examples might include the Cooperatives Act, health and safety, employment laws, and securities requirements.
  • Local

    What municipal bylaws, land codes, or band council resolutions are relevant for your business?
  • Taxes

    Identify the taxes that will impact your business or whether your co-op is exempt from certain taxes.
  • Environmental Compliance

    Are there environmental regulations your co-operative must comply with?
  • One of the most important components of a good business plan is reliable financial projections. This document should compile the financial data that you’ve described in the business plan and set out your expected earnings and expenses for the next 1-3 years. You may want to work with a bookkeeper, accountant, or business consultant to generate accurate projections. To help get you started, download our financial projections template, and customize the spreadsheet to reflect your anticipated income and expenses. Once finalized, you can upload a spreadsheet here to include in your final document. Please ensure the spreadsheet will fit on an 8.5×10 page to align with the business plan’s formatting.

Planning Guide

Every business, including co-operatives, should develop a business plan that can be used to engage new members, raise capital, attract investors, and provide guidance to those involved. With our Biz Plan Creator, building a business is easier than ever. Begin by registering an account, then follow each step to build your own customized business plan!

A co-operative is a business and requires the same level of skill, energy, and commitment as any other business. Starting and building a business can be complicated, confusing, and frustrating — but with a well-crafted business plan in place your co-operative will be off to a good start. Co-operative businesses might be structured differently than other business models, but all businesses are built on the same foundational practices. The co-op’s structure can be built into the business, but shaping and operating the business should make economic feasibility a priority.

When writing a business plan, consider who the audience might be. If your business plan will be used to attract funders, think of ways to set your business apart from others by making a clear case for why your business should receive their support. Be honest and thorough. Fabricating a business plan with unrealistic ideals and projections won’t help you promote your business and will lead to challenges down the road. The best way to ensure you create a superior business plan is to work with experts in business and co-operative development that can review your plan and provide the advice and expertise you need.