This theoretical paper complements traditional OR approaches to improve micro-businesses’ performance. When looking at local micro-businesses, we find that current supply chain and operations theory that focuses on efficiency and economic-based criteria for chain and network integration is inapplicable and external organisation inappropriate. An illustration shows how traditional modelling exercises may fall short in better informing independent-minded micro-entrepreneurs on how to collaborate, even though they recognise benefits from such endeavour. The illustration concerns consideration of food micro-producers, not as links constituting a chain, but as members of a community. This paper explores two different approaches to apply Community OR principles: on the one hand, the application of OR methods to phenomena in the ‘community’, and on the other, the development of research on ‘community operations’, which are symbolised as C+OR and CO+R, respectively. These approaches are associated with two different research languages: of needs and for interactions. Main contributions of this paper are: first, we show that collaboration does not always need shared aims; second, we offer a circular process where the identification of collective actions may help organisations to improve individually, and vice versa; and third, we suggest how to develop the role of a stronger collective actor by means of collaboration.