Rachel and I started Louder Than Ten because we didn’t want to be subjected to that. We wanted autonomy over our basic needs and the single biggest thing that can offer financial security—our jobs. We believed the only way to control our destiny was to own our company instead of having bosses with so much control and influence over our livelihoods.
We knew we wanted to be different, but it was a move of self-preservation as a reaction to the workplace trauma we had experienced. We thought the only way to survive and thrive was to start our own corporation. And every lawyer, accountant, and piece of business media seemed to agree.
As we evolved and added more team members, we knew they were more than cogs in our machine. We wanted to treat our people better than we had been treated but recognized that the owner/employee relationship carried an inherent dynamic that made each person who worked with us more expendable and, thus, ‘less valuable’ to the corporation.
If the company did well, Rachel and I would do well and could choose how to distribute the profits, regardless of how much labour and energy we put in compared to our employees. If the company did poorly, we would decide the strategy and where to cut expenses to preserve our livelihoods. We had all the choice and agency over our people, and the only ones accountable for our decisions were us.
Abby, our consultant and trainer who’s been with us for over six years, has trained more than half our students, helped develop our material and products, strategized with us, and project-managed us. She’s also supported sharing the joy, intensity, and stress of evolving with the company and rolling with economic change. Abby has always felt like and showed up as a partner more than an employee. In a traditional company, if we had to let her go, all of that investment she made would belong to us, and she would get nothing. That didn’t seem fair to us. Her contributions deserve not only recognition but also fair compensation. We couldn’t be what we are today without her. And what about future employees and their contributions?
Initially, we weren’t sure how to design a business that gave folks like Abby a real voice or say in the company. Then, we stumbled on worker-owned cooperatives.