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EDC sponsoring online selling workshop for business owners

Businesses are selling more products directly on the Internet. Online selling is a viable option for a home-based business or enha-ncing an existing business because of the relatively low costs if done smartly and the wide geographical target market.

Business owners interested in learning more about online sales and using the Internet are invited to participate in a five-part workshop beginning today.

The workshop is sponsored by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

The first class in the series will be held 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. today at the Willmar Middle School Computer Lab, Room 138. Registration can still be made by calling the EDC at 235-7370 or email at

The first session will cover major concerns related to online transactions like security, shipping and costs. Subsequent sessions will look at online sites such as Etsy, Craig's List, and eBay; how to work with shopping carts; and exploring the use of online tools like PayPal and online banking platforms to help make more informed decisions.

Jean Spaulding, EDC assistant director, says the workshop is about selling online but it's a bigger picture of really how to improve a business, what small business in particular can do to take advantage of Internet options, and how they can improve their business by either having an online presence or in some cases doing shopping online.

"It's not for everybody. However, for many it's a great opportunity to build sales that they otherwise wouldn't normally get,'' says Spaulding.

Each session is a standalone workshop, but each builds on the other for learning new tricks in how to deal with the Internet, maximize opportunities and learn in a one-on-one course setting with knowledgeable instructors and affordable programming, said Spaulding.

"We knew that with all of the new information that is coming out all the time it's just so hard to stay ahead of it,'' said Spaulding. "We knew that there were going to be people that would benefit from it and appreciate it.''

The workshop will help small-business owners evaluate all of the different options to see which one fits their business model.

"I work with small businesses that are home-based, trying to put together a business model,'' said Spaulding. "They might be doing craft shows for a particular product they sell, what is the best way and most affordable because it can be really expensive to make mistakes if you don't know what you're doing.''

Spaulding is consulting with a business owner who is looking at the website Etsy for selling her products. It's a niche website for handcrafted and unique-type products and services.

"It's amazing what comes up every single day. We really live in an exciting time. People are coming up with clever working models for how to do things better and better, the applications that keep coming up,'' she said.

"It makes people have an opportunity to do something that they can either take a hobby and make some extra money from it or create an actual viable business without having to go through all the expensive infrastructure, which sometimes can be too much for a really small retail business,'' she said.

"I think it's more and more important for small business to utilize every single resource and tool available to them to increase their profit and their sales. This is one really great tool.''

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150