If none of the existing legal structures perfectly fits your needs, you could use ancillary agreements, policies, and covenants. Your values, ethics, and core principles are also a governance layer on top of your business structure. You can combine different structures and governance models to create a business that aligns with your ultimate outcome.
Some questions to ask yourself if you go this route:
- Is your governance model easy to understand and accessible for diverse stakeholders?
- How do you make decisions?
- Who has a right to participate or vote?
- Who represents whom?
- How can you solve conflicts?
- How do you communicate your governance? Who needs to know?
- Distributed co-operative (DisCo)
- Platform co-operative
- Community-centered business, where stakeholders who don’t own shares directly can participate in governance, such as through a stockholding trust designed to represent their interests. More info (PDF).
- For-profit corporation with co-operative decision-making policies… wait, what?!
Suppose you decide to form a business corporation but wish you had the benefits of collective decision-making. In that case, you can structure it so that everyone is an equal owner with an equal say in the company – nothing prevents a corporation from having employee shares. This flexibility allows a corporation to operate similarly to a co-op without being legally bound to a co-op’s structure. Some examples of corporate-co-op studios include Future Club1 and KO-OP2 (in the process, as of 2023, of converting to a Quebec co-op).
In your shareholders’ agreement, you can include language that prioritizes collectivity, outlines dispute resolution procedures, and details processes for managing a voting deadlock.
You could also consider encouraging your employees to form a union! 👀
Healthy studio culture can be promoted in any organization.
Tip: Establish a founders’ agreement before your company is officially formed. That way, you have processes in place for dispute resolution at every stage of your studio’s development.