CUMBERLAND — Allegany College of Maryland will soon offer a 13-week online course to help small and home-based business owners develop skills in internet marketing and sales.
Bill Valentine, coordinator of the local Office of Post-Pandemic Opportunities, Del. Mike McKay (R-Allegany, Washington) and ACM staff have collaborated to create the course that they hope to launch in mid-March.
“We want to help businesses in Allegany County survive and to grow,” said Valentine. “It helps people implement the new realities in the business world that we are seeing.”
The course will be taught in 13 weekly modules with a maximum of 25 people accepted.
Autumn Becker, director of workforce development for the ACM Center for Continuing Education, and David Jones, vice president for advancement and community relations, have been developing the program.
Jones said participants will receive a certificate upon completion.
“We are excited to be able to put this together,” said Jones. “The goal is to develop a program that helps small businesses and nonprofits, looking past the pandemic and provide training for them. We were approached by Bill Valentine and Delegate McKay and we listened to what they wanted to do and we put together a program they seem to be pleased with.”
Jones said the modules will include operations, marketing, sales, best practices and how to place a business online for e-commerce.
“Each module will focus on a different aspect of training and it will all be online,” said Jones. “But what makes it even more unique is there will be a lot of real-world experiences as well as coaches and mentoring to offer one-on-one for the participants to assist them through the process. It will go beyond just sitting in a (virtual) classroom. It will also give people a chance to interact with small business owners in the community.”
Valentine said the program will teach people how to utilize and maximize social media to enhance their business.
“It is a very comprehensive program,” said Valentine. “It includes how to open a new business and create a business plan. It is very heavy on internet sales and internet marketing. It has a full module on how to use places such as Facebook and Twitter and how to advertise, including direct marketing for what audience you want to reach.”
Valentine said many of the changes seen today are likely to stay.
“Since we had this virus people are not going into the stores,” he said. “People don’t feel safe going in and everyone has got used to buying online. It teaches people how to create your own webpage and manage it. If they learn to market and sell online, they are basically open 24 hours.
“I think all the restaurants are coming to the realization that a good portion of their business will be carryout. We want them to list their full menu on a webpage and there will be a place where the customer can pay for the order. They will be paid in advance and won’t prepare food that no one picks up, which causes them to take a loss.”
Jones said an educational group has been contracted to put on the instruction. “We think everyone will be pleased with their skill in small business development,” said Jones.
For more information, contact Valentine via email at [email protected] or phone at 301-268-1598.