How a Business Conversion Works: For Buyers and Sellers


Steps in a Business Conversion/Social Acquisition

The steps to follow to convert a business to a Social Purpose Organization vary depending on whether the individual or group is selling or purchasing an enterprise.

The diagram below outlines the most common and salient steps taken in order to complete a successful social acquisition/ business conversion on both the buyer and seller sides.


The Legacy Leadership Lab Social Acquisition Process Map V2.1, 2020

Additional Buyer Steps


1. Get Educated

This stage involves educating yourself and other members / potential members about Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs). SPOs are either built from the inception of a business, or are business conversions/ social acquisitions of other types of businesses (including traditional ones). If you wish to convert your business to a co-operative specifically, it is recommended that you seek collaboration with a professional co-op developer who can help strategize, develop the structure and bylaws, and provide training.

Full list of Business Conversion Resources >>


2. Find the right partners or collaborators

Finding professionals and partners who both understand and promote SPOs can be a key step in your business conversion. During this time it is best to lean on your local SPO/ Social Enterprise community for support.


3. Write the bylaws/ policies that will govern your enterprise

These rules determine how the enterprise will operate and must be defined before incorporation. They should be democratically decided on by all members and should align with the social impact the company seeks to attain. These bylaws will cover topics such as: governance procedures, share structures, membership eligibility etc.


4. Prepare for operation

Plan for your financial structure and conversion plan. Operational tasks such as: raising funds and applying for grants, setting up bank accounts, forming the board of directors, issuing initial shares, the development of governance systems (i.e. corporate minute book for meetings or share ledger to track equity holdings) should also occur.


5. Convert

Evaluation of the company and selling or purchasing accordingly. This step likely engages lawyers, accountants, and employees.

Legal Guide to Cooperative Conversions: California-based Sustainable Economies Law Center 


6. Operate

Enjoy the fulfillment of worker democracy, mutual aid, a culture of care, and meeting your social mission!




Find out:

What is a Social Purpose Organization?

What is a Social Enterprise? 

Examples of business conversions/social acquisitions

CWCF’s JEDDI Business Conversions project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Investment Readiness Program