A business services co-operative is a group of small business owners who
have come together to increase the
competiveness of their enterprises.
There has been a growing trend over the past two decades for Australian
businesses to work together for mutual benefit.
Small businesses often lack the bargining power and resources
larger businesses, but they can bridge the gap by jointly undertaking ventures
While interfirm collaboration can take many forms (franchises, joint
ventures, business incubators), a number of Australian businesses have chosen
the co-operative business structure to gain the benefits of a larger group.
The role of these co-operatives is to
provide services to meet the needs of member businesses.
Like an agricultural co-operative, a
business services co-operative is regarded as
extension of the members' business and operates to provide benefits to
of the co-operative's services, not as
Benefits of collaboration
Increased purchasing power
through joint purchasing operations by which members obtain favourable trading
terms and pricing, which increases their competiveness, particularily against
Increased market penetration
and product or service recognition through co-operative marketing arrangements,
which increases their market share, particularily against larger competitors,
and improves export marketing capacity.
Improved performance and efficiency
through joint investment in equipment, services and technology, which would
otherwise be beyond the resources of any one firm.
Access to research and development
through joint research projects with major research institutions, which can
open up new product markets.
Increased negotiating power
with public and education sectors through industry associations, which can
ensure the needs of particular small business sectors are considered in the
design of public policy.
Activities of Australian business services co-operatives
Plumbers, florists, nurseries, liquor stores and travel agents
use co-operatives to aggregate their purchasing power to obtain favourable
trading terms and pricing, which
increases their competitiveness, particularily against larger companies and
Pharmacies, newsagents, furniture retailers, motel owners, fitness clubs and
co-operatives to increase market penetration and product and service
recognition. Some of these co-operatives also purchase goods for sale by member
Independent film makers, doctors (GPs), architects and taxi owners
also use co-operatives to share resources to
improve the performance and efficiency of their businesses through joint
investment in equipment, services and technology, which would otherwise be
beyond any one firm.
LINKS TO AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS SERVICES CO-OPERATIVES