I Have Joined the Board of Directors of the Austin Cooperative Business Association

It is a pleasure to share that I have joined the Board of Directors of the Austin Cooperative Business Association (ACBA).

In 2019 my company, Money Positive, converted from being a single person LLC to a Cooperative owned by its member-workers. This likely made us the first cooperatively run financial planning company. We could not have done it without the support and guidance from ACBA, its members, and surrounding co-op community. Joining the board is a small show of our appreciation to give back and help other co-ops. Our unique experience converting to a co-op can hopefully inspire other businesses to go that path and give ownership to their workers and/or clients. Contact me if you are interested in learning more for your own organization or start-up. If you are in Texas you need five members to start a cooperative.

ACBA provides guidance about cooperation formation and governance. Shares resources, including funding opportunities, and advocates to the City of Austin on behalf of the cooperative economy.

Any organization, like clubs, charities, and businesses can run cooperatively and follow the cooperative principals. Or a business can formally incorporate in their state as a cooperative. Incorporation as a co-op is a for-profit business structure, they are not charities. They are like any other business. They emphasize that the people who participate directly in the business are key stakeholders, which is something other business structures can sometimes forget.

It can be harder to start a cooperative because there is not as much infrastructure for this type of business compared to LLCs and C Corps. But, once established a cooperative business is often just as successful and more resilient. Everyone can appreciate that considering the uncertainty here in 2020. Somewhat ironically co-ops can be more conservative than other corporations. Focusing on organic growth and being very mindful of the use of debt and leverage.

Cooperatives are able to take outside investors. Those investors though don't get an equity stake in the business, they don't get a board seat. Rather they buy preferred stock which often includes a dividend or the opportunity for reinvestment. I personally believe this will be a growing market as investors look for stability in their portfolios.

Below are the seven principals that cooperatives follow. It would be a better world if all organizations observed this

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

2. Democratic Member Control

3. Members' Economic Participation

4. Autonomy and Independence

5. Education, Training and Information

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

7. Concern for Community