TCL puts its success down to a number of factors:
1. Co-operative entrepreneurship: TCL would not be where it is today without the entrepreneurship of Robyn Kaczmarek and the steering committee to seek an alternative approach to homecare. Their commitment and dedication to invest time and financial resources was critical in researching, establishing and operating TCL.
2. Co-operative network: Support among co-operatives is one of the key Co-operative Principles. For TCL, the mentoring and information provided by Sunderland Homecare, Cooperative Home Care Associates and Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute enabled them to understand the benefits of an employee co-operative ones other legal structures, and how to establish and operate a co-operative in the homecare sector. This support and information was “open source” and free of charge to TCL and was invaluable in establishing TCL, particularly given the limited initial funding available to pay external technical experts. TCL has also worked with Bank Australia, the BCCM, Common Equity and Supporting Independent Living Co-operative.
3. Technical professional support: The technical expertise of lawyers and accountants was vital to establishing TCL. They helped to draft the rules, choose the right legal structure and help register TCL as a co-operative and not-for-profit with charity status. It was important to work with professionals who had knowledge and experience of co-operatives so they were provided with the right information to support TCL in achieving its vision and mission.
4. Cloud technology: Access to affordable business software provided through Cloud technology has enabled TCL to organise worker-members, manage finances and reduce business overheads. Software such as FlowLogic (case management), HRmonise (human resources) and Xero (payroll) are available to small business for a modest monthly fee. They are user friendly, can be accessed from anywhere (office, home or client’s home) and help to improve accountability, transparency and connectedness, especially with managing self-organising teams remotely. Previously such software would have been prohibitively expensive for small business to access.
TCL has encountered a range of challenges since its inception: knowledge of employee owned co-operatives, accessing government funding, financial management and governance. While there are many challenges in the start up phase, TCL is now dealing with the challenges of growth, including engaging members in a larger organisation. Table 1 provides an overview of the challenges of the start up phase and how TCL overcame them.