Earlier this year Co-operative Development Scotland were part of a group that organised and hosted an event called Community Shops & Pubs: Making it Easy. The event was designed to enable communities take action to secure the future of their local shop or pub by helping them to better understand what projects of this nature entail and the support that is available to them. This was a fantastic event was well attended by community groups from across Scotland who were able to access advice on fundraising, governance and community engagement. Attendees also had the opportunity to speak to those already running community businesses and to learn from their experience.

On the day we caught upGillian Kirton with some of the speakers from the event to find out what key bits of advice they would give to community groups considering setting up their own community business.

Gillian Kirton, project manager for Co-operative Development Scotland was there on the day and shares some of the key insights.

You can also hear directly from them in our latest video.

  1. Ask for help– Linsay Chalmers- South Cowal Community Enterprises.

South Cowal Community Enterprises joined the line-up of speakers on the day to share their experience of taking over the local shop and post office on behalf of the local community. She identified two key pieces of advice for groups considering doing similar. The first is to ask for help.  There are lots of groups out there that you can have initial discussions with who can help get your idea of the ground or sign post you to the right support organisation for your community’s business needs. Her second piece of advice is to visit other similar organisations as this is a great way to hear first-hand about the practicalities of running a community business.

  1. Learn from others– Chris Cowcher- The Plunkett Foundation

Chris is part of the Plunkett foundation who are the lead organisation in helping rural communities across the UK address their needs through community business. Chris recommends speaking to other similar organisations so you can learn from their experience. Plunket have made this easier by producing a map of community businesses throughout the UK so those who are new to this type of venture can identify similar organisations close to them to get in touch with. The Plunkett Facebook groups are another way to access expertise from existing organisations (https://www.facebook.com/groups/communityshopsnetwork/  https://www.facebook.com/groups/communitypubsnetwork/

  1. Choose the right legal structure- Suzanne Orchard Co-operative Development Scotland

Suzanne is part of our team at Co-operative Development Scotland and the advice she gave on the day was about taking the time to choose the right structure for your organisation. There are different types of community businesses and it isn’t unheard of for the wrong model to be put in place which can then result in you facing barriers further down the line. By accessing the support mentioned and doing your research, you can identify the right option for your community and be best placed to achieve your goals.

  1. Just go for it- Catherine McWilliams, Development Trust Agency Scotland

Catherine took the opportunity to highlight how successful community shops and pubs are. Community shops have demonstrated a 96% success rate and at the time of the event no community pubs were known to have failed. If you have ambitions to develop a community business, then you’ll never know unless you try!

Our next Community Business: Making it Easy event takes place 2nd September. Find out more and register here.

Co-operative Development Scotland is the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports business growth through employee ownership and co-operative business models. If you would like to find out more about community co-operatives visit our web page.

There are lots of different ways to go about setting up a community business and a community co-operative is just one option. If you are not sure where to begin, get in touch with us and we can talk you through our support and sign post you to one of our partners if their support better meets your needs.

Partners: Plunkett Foundation Community Shares Scotland, DTAS, Co-ops UK