A landscape at sunset. There is a field of crops, a small valley with a village, and wind turbines in the distance.

Community businesses trade primarily for the benefit of their community.

They are controlled by the community, and they have open and voluntary membership, actively encouraging people to get involved by becoming members. They are set up on a one member, one vote basis, rather than one share, one vote.

If you are considering setting up a rural community business – whether it is to be a co‑operative pub, a community-run shop or café, green space, energy project, broadband hub or library – there will be a number of areas common to all of these projects that you will want to explore.

Like any business, a community business must be profitable. But their primary trading purpose is to provide benefits for their community, and profits are primarily reinvested back into the business or into the local community.

A really important aspect of community businesses is that the majority of them offer additional services that benefit the wider community.

This guide covers:

  • How to engage and consult the community
  • The steering group
  • Legal and governance
  • Business planning
  • Raising the funds
  • Volunteers
  • Acquiring premises
  • Sourcing suppliers for your business
  • Opening and trading
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