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Small Businesses Thrive by Improving and Expanding their Online Presence

To remain competitive, rural and small businesses need a well-designed online presence. In the past few years, small businesses adopted technology at breakneck speed to adjust to pandemic conditions and survive. Salesforce stated that over 70% of small and medium businesses went digital to persist through the pandemic. The majority would not have survived if they had not taken advantage of online presence strategies. Going forward, it is anticipated that many approaches to an online presence will be long[1]term.

Purdue Extension identified key online presence components for small businesses, and created Expand Your Business’s Online Presence training to share strategies for entrepreneurs and small business owners. In partnership with the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), the ISBDC covered program fees for up to 50 businesses for the online program. In the 12-module training, participants learned about websites, search engines, digital storefronts, virtual customers, email, podcasts, and social media. They learned how to reach more customers, how to use digital transactions, how to be discovered by potential customers, and ways to improve customer online experience. Purdue Extension conducted 19 online and two in-person workshops. There were 40 entrepreneurs and small business owners from across Indiana in the workshops.

More than 90% reported that the training increased their knowledge and recommended the series to others. Applying strategies learned, they reported increased customer engagement, customer base, and sales. As a result of adopting strategies learned, employers reported they had developed plans for their business and were able to retain jobs. Purdue Extension’s Expand Your Business’s Online Presence helped small businesses and entrepreneurs apply online strategies to increase customer engagement, customer base, and sales, and to retain jobs.

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