Entrepreneurial Spirit of Cooperatives

The International Year of Cooperatives was officially launched on January 12, 2012 by the United Nations to celebrate cooperatives around the world and raise awareness for an alternative business structure that requires an entrepreneurial spirit to succeed.  Purists of the cooperative movement might be cringing at the suggestion that an entrepreneurial spirit is required but if you go to Merriam Webster for the definition of ‘entrepreneur’ you’ll see that the concept has possibilities.

The Lonely Entrepreneur

Last week I was in contact with several small business owners and there was a common theme to the conversations. Each individual loved being an entrepreneur but they were all struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness. There is a unifying misconception among the entrepreneurs I spoke with, that they feel the need to be the one source of all information for their business. What a lofty and impossible goal to set for one’s self. Large corporations have teams of experts, each with their own area of knowledge, coming together to solve problems and set future strategies. Yet, the entrepreneur tries to do it all alone then wonders why they feel lonely and why they frequently fail.

Focus

Being able to focus is critical to the achievement of goals in one’s personal and professional life.  But focusing is hard, we all encounter lots of distractions.  The new Distracted Driving Law got me thinking, that maybe we need to adopt an Exercise in Focused Living.

Managing Expectations

Several years ago a wise mentor told me the most important thing I needed to do as a project manager at the time, was to manage expectations. He meant my own expectations, those of the executives I reported to, those of the employees who would be impacted, and those of the customers who would also be affected. When I fully digested what he had meant, I was slightly overwhelmed at the responsibility. However, it proved to be the wisest tidbit that anyone in my work experience has ever shared and that is probably because of the sheer enormity of managing expectations well.

Where’s the Manual?

Recently, I told my university class that I remembered when faxes were introduced to business. This illicited looks of sheer disbelief and gales of laughter from the class, who were were not even born when that change happened. Faxes are so old school, they said. Well, they are right and I find myself on the edge of another technological precipice called social media.

Co-op Week

This week, October 16-22, is Co-op Week and it is being celebrated world-wide by as many different kinds of cooperatives as you can possibly imagine.  All of these cooperatives are community-based enterprises, formed by members for the primary purpose of providing a needed service or product to their community at an equitable cost.

Boards and Bylaws

If you have been asked to join a Board, or you are already a Director on a Board, you have a responsibility to familiarize yourself with the bylaws.  Reading through the bylaws will help you to understand the framework within which the Board will function, the parameters of the Board’s decision making powers, and the general roles and responsibilities of Board members.  By familiarizing yourself with the bylaws you can decide whether you are able to contribute to the

Values

There is some discussion in the business world these days about values. Organizations post their values and hope that the values they have selected will mesh with the values of their employees. There are supposedly different kinds of values; personal, corporate, and moral values for example. But are there really different kinds of values or is there a smorgasbord of values from which different entities, either individuals or groups, select those that fit their need or purpose?

Courageous Leadership

Leaders who choose to shift an organizational culture after having existed in, and contributed possibly unwittingly or intentionally to the current culture for a period of time, are courageous. By making this choice, committing to the outcome, and following through in words and deeds, they expose themselves to the risk that they might not succeed. Few leaders are used to failing. Most prefer to take calculated risks that are stacked in their favour.