Hypha Worker Co-operative Business Planning
Adapted from [Co-op Creator: Cooperative Business Planning Guide](https://coopcreator.ca/resource/co-operative-business-planning-guide/)
:open_file_folder: [DRAFT Business Plan](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U8C1XZcDpu1r4ciecbKEZ6vOL41nTinfqPCbZDhkAWc/edit#heading=h.bah3u1e9xjkr)
## I: Business Overview
_Drafted by Udit_
### Description of Business
<!-- come back to this after the rest of sections are done -->
<!-- confirm this: development, strategy, and education services ** -->
**Hypha** is a worker cooperative rooted in Toronto, Ontario.
We offer development, strategy, and education services focused on redesigning the relationship between technology and communities.
We share our proficiencies in building open-source systems, sustainable communities, and peer-to-peer technologies with a broader audience, to establish a more respectful, resilient, and democratic technology ecosystem.
As a mission-driven organization, we strive to cultivate collective growth and meaningful livelihoods for our members and neighbours.
## II: The Marketplace (#todo April 24 pass - Udit)
_Drafted by Ben_
### State of the Market
- Major demographic, economic, social and cultural factors
- Social impact focused organizations that have budgets for digital services
- Interest in operating in open source ecosystems (e.g. organizational tools)
- Major Players
- Product and consultation: tech, design, user research studios large and small, or consulting firms
- Infrastructure: large providers like Google, AWS, ISPs
- Nature of the Industry
- Technology & Professional Services industry
- Organizations have reasonable budgets available for digital services and products
- Service providers and customers have varying degrees of intimacy throughout the service cycle
- Trends in the Industry
- Favour multidisciplinary approach
- Tension between fail-fast start-ups aiming for distruption, vs. social impact focused co-creation initiatives
- Government Regulation: List any government regulations that impact your business; this may include environmental, industry-specific, legislative, or financial-related regulation.
- Not aware of any, aside from access to certain grants based on not-for-profit status but it is not critical to operation
- In canada: PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), CASL (Anti-Spam Legislation)
- Digital services: https://www.business2community.com/small-business/strategic-role-digital-consultants-startups-small-businesses-01878713
- Lets look at other projects and what they say e.g.:
- Lets also pay attention to how others price themselves in the market:
- https://evolutionindesignz.com/toronto-website-designers-for-non-profits/ <-- have to request quote
- Market Segment
- Organizations in need of development, strategy, and capacity building services
- People who do not align with a large provider
- Don't have the capacity to do these kinds of things internally but a desire to change practices
- Products and Services
- Learning Services: Consult organizations on processes based on open source tools and self-managed resilient infrastructure
- Co-creation Services: Partnership with groups to co-create peer-to-peer prototypes and products
- Offline systems
- Design prototyping
- Infrastructure hosting
- ? We aren't hosting a mail server
- Workshop design
- Organization strategy and facilitation
- Research (community-based participatory)
- Web design and development services
- ? We aren't making a server
- ? We won't run digital campaigns
- _See tactical tech language_
- Pricing and Distribution
- Highly custom, based on nature of engagement
- Market Trends
- Organizations conscious of data security, data privacy, infrastructure resiliency, and organizational digital literacy
- Niche market where organizational values align better with digital services that emphasize usage of local infrastructure and favour internalizing knowledge to operate and control digital dependencies
- Growing tech ecosystem of products demanding peer-to-peer system expertise
- Implications or Risk Factors
- No money in the market:
- Organizations want these but are unwilling to pay for it
- Organizations that want the services are unable to pay for it
- Organizations believe alternative approaches are better solutions to their problems
- Open source is not well-accepted (both using as internal tools, and as a model to build new products)
- Strongly encourage and make the case for open "our default"
- Role as educator for awareness of "working open" open source, open education, licensing, etc...
- Initial take: We are not _exclusively_ participating in open source work
- **TODO**: Do we only work on open source projects? Do we not use permissive licenses?
- We lack internal resources to fulfill market demands (in scope of expertise and in people's time)
- Planned Response
- It is necessary to test the market with small projects to learn this emerging market
- Competitors and type of Competition
- Product offers (hardware, software, service) from companies large and small that are transactional in nature
- Independent contracts for custom work
- Competitors’ Strengths and Weaknesses
- Large companies offer reliable products serving the mass market, but do not offer much of a co-creation process
- Independent contractors may lack diverse expertise to tackle widely-scoped problems
- Competitive Advantage
- Multidisciplinary core members with diverse experiences
- Knowledge about open source tools and how to apply them to organizational problems
- Expertise in peer-based processes and technological systems
- Connected to communities in decentralized web space
## [III: Sales and Marketing](https://bizplan.coopcreator.ca/sections/3) (#todo April 24 pass - Udit)
_Drafted by patcon_
- Government of Canada
- Government of Ontario
- City of Toronto
- Code for Canada
- CIRA :moneybag:
- Protocol Labs
- Free Geek :moneybag:
- Meshnet communities :moneybag:
- Toronto Mesh, MaZi, SSB, Athens, Altermundi, Guifi, Freifunk, People’s Open
- Secure Scuttlebutt :moneybag:
- Organizers, Collectives, Other co-operatives
- local community organizers
- meetup organizers
- event organizers
- dweb summit (internet archive)
- event planners, re: facilitation
- Data Management e.g., with web scraping needs
- likely low return
- #ask OpenNorth founders. Bernard. Jean-Noé Landry. Datamade in USA.
- small businesses
- Free school students
- People who like laptop stickers
- Ontario Science Centre
- Makery makerspace
- Suppliers: If applicable, provide a list, including name and address, of your suppliers with some indication of the product or service they provide.
- suppliers of labour?
- in-network friends
- trusted civic tech community peers
- should we try to estimate this?
- suppliers of contracts (lead generation?)
- Code for Canada / Civic Hall Toronto
- digital services
- what skills might we want to grow?
- what skills might we want to trust another co-op to offer?
- what are we willing to use third-party suppliers for at some point?
- possibilities (see: [infra thread](https://loomio.cryptography.dog/d/btj3hpEO/what-do-we-have-need-brainstorm))
- source code hosting
- collaborative docs
- mailing lists
- monitoring / uptime
- password management
### Public Engagement
- Advertising and Promotion (some [tips](#Appendix---Marketing-Tips))
- direct outreach through personal social graph
- banners (i.e., what about what we take to a rally?)
- silkscreen burned in with our logo (quickly making some prints ourselves!)
- stamp our own business cards
- bike trailer popup infra/ads
- street festivals
- solidarity work and coalitions
- Showing up for others work?
- Joining the worker coop association
- Intentional network direction setting
- we should BE A NEIGHBOUR on the dweb: running a node? hosting services--
- SOCIAL MEDIA
- google maps (dc: I have a central address?)
- co-operative directories
- ipfs gateway
- ssb pub + viewer
- Pricing and Distribution
- pricing tiers (community pricing? pwyc? neighbour pricing?)
- explorable explanation about pricing?
- rubric for evaluating level of contrib
- toronto examples: 6-degrees health. sliding scale acupuncture.
- city of glasgow, even city events
- local pricing. free for residents, but more for tourists
- Customer Service Policy
- "Be good neighbours"
- Customer support system (e.g. Freshdesk or suitable alternative) [:information_source:](https://loomio.cryptography.dog/d/Vi0YSIx4/business-plan-writing/8)
- Role for customer support (rotating?)
- Practice for lead generation that filters people into one channel (less individual managing of relationships outside process?)
## IV: Human Resources (#todo April 24 pass - Ben)
_Drafted by dawn_
- Hours of operation
- No regular "hours of operation"
- Some standard of reply to a general email (e.g., 48 hours)
- Pick operating hours as an ideal slot to plan coordination across
- Number of employees
- 7 people
- 0-30% employees ("Staff"+Contributors) in set up year with 70-100% worker-owners
- employee book-keeper/accountant?
- Clarify "employee relationships" -- from Act
"The Act also has particular definitions that help determine who is considered a “permanent full-time employee”. An employee is not considered a permanent full-time employee if:
• The employee is employed for a probationary period of one year or less;
• The employee is employed under a contract for a term of two years or less; or
• The employee’s regular hours of work are less than 15 hours per week (apart from
- Vacation Program
- Meet requirements on vacation time and pay for less than full time workers
- Specifics about [Vacation Time and Pay in Ontario](https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/vacation) ... 4% and 2 weeks up to 5 years, 6% and 3 weeks after
- Performance Assessment
- Invert that? "Annual peer interview" to like debrief on issues and surface things to build forward
- Will probably want to think longer term about conflict mediation policy to handle bigger issues
- Training and Development
- Establish some reserve funds for Member training
- surplus portion allocated?
- line items in grant?
- for-profit gov't of Canada/Ontario opportunities
- Establish some reserve funds for Co-op development
- surplus feeds into this
- line items in grant?
- for-profit gov't of Canada/Ontario opportunities
- Annual Meeting also tied to training?
- Is there a set of mandatory training we want (onboarding)?
- Remuneration and Benefits
- Policy of biggest pay ratio at 1:2 for lowest to highest Employee and Worker Owner
- Practice of equal pay for roles? length of time?
- I'd suggest we follow a [living wage policy](http://www.ontariolivingwage.ca/living_wage_by_region) (so $21.75 in Toronto for Nov 2018 [:notebook: report](https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Ontario%20Office/2015/04/CCPA-ON_Making_Ends_Meet.pdf))
- PTO costs:
- 8% of annualized pay for stat
- 10-12 stat holidays (implications from schedule)
- 10 days vacations
- Sick leave:
- Start up
- Stat benefits:
- CPP, EI? employment relationships!
- 4-6% of annualized pay for stat benefits
- Understanding our distinction between casual and permanent employee (Federal vaugeness)
- Supplemental health, life insurance, disability, benefits:
- 15-20% of annualized pay for supplemental plan
- Probably tricky at first, I worked for a company that just set up a healthcare spending acct with like $1000/year
- Research options and poll members at AGM about needed benefits (sometimes insurance is tactical)
- Are there other types of "benefits" we can make happen, recognizing that we might not have enough money for good healthcare coverage
## V: Operations (#todo April 24 pass - Ben)
- Require an address but not physical presence
- Virtual office for 1 year timeframe
- patcon: shared space is important (ben: +1)
- Equipment, Furniture & Fixtures
- patcon: bags that move around but our "stuff" stay together and is tracked
- Co-located servers
- Some physical spaces for humans too!
- Members have connections to get space here and there
- Future Expenditures/Technology Requirements
- We should start lean and pick things from the wishlist of things as needed
- Research and Development
- Sustain grants are sales efforts
- We have a pipeline to feed into [funding opportunities](https://github.com/ralphtheninja/open-funding)
- Developing processes we work together
- Research vendors
- Do we support individuals to engage in grant-seeking? What support does that need, if any?
- Processes for tracking opportunities? Wekan?
- Environmental Compliance
- Additional Information
- Ensure basic tasks to ensure how the group functions is load-balanced:
- Define the list of tasks
- Define process for rotating and to ensure everyone has that skillset
- e.g. facilitate a meeting, polish notes and move to github
- Timeline (and how long this lasts i.e., period)
- Take the long view (does this thing outlive our personal interest?)
- But also start lean. How long is ramp up to stability?
## VI: Financial Plan
- Financial reports from past years
- Projections for the next 2-4 years
- Statements on the business’s financial position, sales activities, income statements, cash flow, expected requirements, and performance indicators.
# Appendix - Rough Notes
## Key Partners
- Value alignment
- Work culture
- Audience reach (size and fit)
### Why do people want to work with us?
**Open design and development of products and processes**
- Push for:
- Right to repair
- Welcome change by user
- Transparent things > opaque things
- Decentralization of knowledge through upskilling people
- Support experimenting with new modes of production and distribution that challenge status quo
### Potential Partners
- Protocol Labs
- Enspiral + Pods
- Mozilla Foundation
- Toronto Mesh
- Civic Tech TO
- Digital Justice Lab + advocacy organizations
- Toronto Public Library
- Local cooperatives
## Key Activities
- Tech development
- User research
- Business development (e.g. sales, website)
- Teaching and pedagogical research
- Organizational reserch and documenting (e.g. retreat material)
- Operational development (e.g. redeployable infrastructure, livelihood for all)
## Key Resources
- Digital space
- See Infra WG for tools
- See Finance WG for running costs
- Physical space, what CSI wish it could be:
- Open work days, public visibility, cohabited by many coops
- Conference space, work space, hardware lab
- Related projects:
- Omni Commons (Oakland)
- Langstrasse200 (Zurich)
- Lleiaitat.cat (Barcelona)
## Value Proposition
- Codevelopment of open-source products, skills, educational material, research and writing
- User research (what our PL proposal contains)
- Organizational model research (commons-based peer production)
- Technical research (infrastructure and tools, distributed/offline/self-sovereign/collectively-owned systems)
- Pedgagocial research and curriculum development (mostly tech related but not limited to)
- Support non-techy organizations with technical capacity
## Audience Relationships
- Engage and involve during design and development
- Transfer ownership as much as possible
- Maintain ongoing support channels in future
- Introduce open-source and ways to engage with this new work model and its growing community (what patcon pointed out in loomio)
## Distribution Channels
- Personal connections (organic)
- Visible on lists where people with shared values will see
- Website with community based on published articles (e.g. our research writings)
- Fund interesting stuff (e.g. sponsor Our Networks, art residencies, tech residencies)
- Many of these result in _publishing_ which is a major channel for us, in forms of:
- Art (e.g. fromlater "catalogs", outputs from residencies)
- Open-source software (e.g. tomesh)
- Resources (e.g. reading list, retreat material)
- Curriculum (e.g. mesh workshop, proposed freegeek workshop)
- The _artifacts_ we create lead to _publications_
- The _upskilling_ we influence, if we offer pathways for people to participate in the coop, could expand the coop and indirectly expand our _personal connection_ distribution channel
## Audience Segments
- People who _feel_ excluded from tech:
- Accessiblility (e.g. culture, politics)
- Affordability (e.g. cost)
- Availability (e.g. remote regions)
- Shared vision for alternate solidarity economy (e.g. other coops)
- Government procurement (long conversation...)
## Cost Structure
- See _Key Activities_
- When is what fundable?
- What we expect to allocate at each time period?
- Time spent with partners
- What is a meaningful livelihood?
- List how much % reliant people want to be
- How do we prioritize _Key Activities_?
## Revenue Stream
- How do we pay for bootstrap work?
# Appendix - Co-working Notes
## 2019-01-23 Business Planning Co-work
- Go through Milestones
- Fixed cost for Y1
- Start up costs
- Recurring administrative costs
- Costs thread patcon started + speculative component (budget)
- Classify _types_ of expenses (see "Cost Structure" above as starting point)
- Ways of fundraising and how to prioritize them
- Need more discussion
- Process of lead generation, market sizing, opportunity cost analysis
- Agency model
- Grant model
- b2b contract
- Propose a few end-to-end models from market/lead generation to sustainability
- What gets paid and what doesn't, some long-term plan to expanding that scope
- 1-5: 2-3.5 scale of business planning, iterating later
- Format of output
- "Prepare Member Survey" - Prompts on loomio asking people what they think about certain things
- e.g. How important is a physical space to you?
- e.g. How do you want to prioritize each business activity?
- Write a list of prioritization questions to survey as next step
- Analysis of 3-4 models (Comparison)
- Report on _Business Model_
- Report on _Financial Forecast_
- Largely static versioned document
- Useful to do periodic reflection on how we stuck to doc, to understand our business
- How this group works
- Weekly Wednesday 4-5 EST
- Async on loomio
- TODO before Feb 8 in-person cowork:
- Research on potential projects to prepare for "models" discussion
- Look at udit's "business planning canvas"
- Market size (people in same space) and grant size (locally available) research
- Check what is generally covered in reports
- Bylaws depend on this (first draft bylaws required end of Q1)
- Next session to discuss potential projects and see how they may fit into different "models"
- Let's decide on Feb 8
## 2019-02-08 Business Planning Co-work
[Loomio: related thread](https://loomio.cryptography.dog/d/Vi0YSIx4/business-plan-writing)
### Existing organizations
- Appears to be client model? What amount of work is services
- [Root Systems](https://www.rootsystems.nz)
- Unclear relationship to larger Enspiral?
- [The Lab for the Commons (TLC)]()
- [Vasilis Vlachokyriakos](https://digitalcivics.io/people/vasilis-vlachokyriakos/)
- Seems like work that is interesting to us but very modular and research oriented, I imagine we'd take on projects with longer horizons (e.g. evolving a product and working within an ecosystem long term)
- [Open Lab Athens](https://digitalcivics.io/tag/open-lab-athens/)
- [Infrastructuring the Solidarity Economy: Unpacking Strategies and Tactics in Designing Social Innovation](http://delivery.acm.org/10.1145/3180000/3174055/paper481.pdf?ip=220.127.116.11&id=3174055&acc=OA&key=4D4702B0C3E38B35%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35%2E2F323ED36981B10C&__acm__=1549667360_14dcb0a7be97dde9856ed3da64c7d575) (is this paywalled?)
- [Just Seeds](https://justseeds.org/about/)
- [Tactical Tech Collective](https://tacticaltech.org)
- [Sonder Design](https://www.sonderdesign.org)
### Discussion on balance of grants and service/product
- Temperature check, how much grant money, 2ish years in, after set up costs
[**Patcon's stupid-verbose notes**](https://hackmd.io/Uu58cS1CTTymFUWh6CV8OQ)
### Existing project opportunities
- Aether development and community organizing (e.g. mobile app)
- Connections: Burak
- Decentralized Web Summit infrastructure setup
- Connections: Wendy @ Internet Archive
- "Camp Off-Grid" (late July)
- Free Software Co-Creation Club (kickstart with CIRA)
- Connections: Ryan @ FreeGeek
- Local networks (variation of offline.systems)
- Connections: MaZi, SSB, Athens, Altermundi, Guifi, Freifunk, rural networks via Nico/Luandro/noffle
- Meshnet curriculum (collaboration with many communities)
- Connections: Pam/Jenny/Grant @ People's Open, Nico @ LibreRouter
- small side-business of a laptop sticker sticker
- community organizer support tools with experimental fee structures
- kits to build tooling to experimental fee structures (grant-able?)
- eg. a website that has an idea of a quota it should earn for it's sponsor org (us) each month, and that degrades features when transparent quota not met collectively by users (paying a subscription exempts a user from degradation)
- small side-gig for ordering a laptop sticker that is a photo of old laptop
- small side-gig for a SPA for meetup organizers to order member flashcards. small subscription (patreon?) adds helpful features.
- facilitation offerings (tech-supported)
- inspired by vtaiwan and pol.is dynamics perhaps
- serving gov clients?
- client services adjacent to gov
- scraping projects
- Research/project plan consulting (low fit)
- Meeting or event facilitation (low fit)
- Some sort of hourly tech work (low fit)
- participatory research into new modes of being online
- free school / barter school style "networking"
- PWYC toolkitting around organizing support and strategies
- "meet your neighbours" collaboration-driven projects
- Ontario Science Centre Collab (some fit)
- hardware prototyping projects (makery)
:star: #todo ben asking to share freegeek cira grant
- web services
- new products dev
- tech services: prototyping, building tech
- "Learning" services: facilitation, organizing, coordination
# Appendix - Marketing Tips
You can use paid advertising, free advertising, social media, and a variety of other techniques to spread the word about your business.
Work on your own website. Websites are important for any business to have as the Internet continues to pull in consumers in nearly every industry, but since websites are your business, your company definitely needs one. How you structure your website is up to you, but you should have a clear focus on what your skill is while providing the information potential customers need. Your website doesn't have to include your rates, but it should include your services, examples of previous work, contact information, and supporting educational information such as if you attended a web design degree program of any kind.
Pay for online advertising. You could ad listings on high-traffic websites, or do a pay-per-click campaign with the large search engines. Pay for listings in business directories for web designers.
Become active in social media and in other online communities. These are places you may find your customers. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and other social networking websites give you another avenue to connect to both current and prospective clients while also giving them a way to connect with and learn about you before, during, and after the sale. Become active in places where you know your target market is and in industry-related communities to establish yourself as an expert.Focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Let the search engines do some of the work for you naturally at all hours of the day. If you are not familiar with SEO, you can either research and try your hand at it or hire someone to help you. Clients want to know their website is going to be seen, so if you can offer SEO services to your customers, then you have more value.
Advertise your Website Offline
You can do this via newspaper ads, business cards and fliers, radio and/or TV spots, and through general face-to-face interaction.
Attend industry-related conferences. This may not bring in more customers unless some of the attendees are looking for services, but you may find other people to network with. Networking may help you offer more to customers or may help you handle e a higher customer volume. Industry conferences will also have valuable information to keep you on top of the latest trends and technology in the field, enabling you to provide more value to customers.
Read industry-related magazines. One of the magazines is Website Magazine, which has a free and paid edition, and offers valuable information to designers and others who run online businesses. The magazine also offers ad spots, and since it targets Internet marketers and other online professionals, advertising web design services there could prove profitable.
Reach out to small businesses in your area and suggest helping each other.Offer to help them grow their business if they use your services. Offer them a free consultation to show them where they can improve and how you can help.
Print fliers and business cards. Pass these out at local events you attend, as long as you are allowed to do so. Hang fliers up at local businesses with permission. Leave business cards with other local businesses. Always have these on hand so if you strike up a conversation with someone while you are away from your office, your contact information is readily available to hand out.
Run a client referral incentive program both online and off. Advertising and marketing go hand-in-hand. By marketing a web design business to existing customers and offering an incentive to them for bringing in more customers, you have an advertising team working for you.