Selling to the World Expo set

Existing and aspiring small-business owners can learn how to harness the power of the web to sell their products and market their business to statewide, national and global customers — and get innovative business-planning assistance — at the second Selling to the World Expo coming to Middlesboro.

With grant support from the Sam’s Club Shared Vision program and The New York Community Trust, Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College is teaming up with workforce, economic development and community partners to host the two-day conference, set for June 25 and 26 at the Middlesboro campus of SKCTC.

Partners include the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Kentucky Small Business Development Center, Discover Downtown Middlesboro and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

The Selling to the World Expo will benefit not only small businesses that may be struggling to build an online presence, but also crafters and artisans who spend their weekends selling items locally, according to SKCTC Vice President Dr. Vic Adams.

The event will teach these sellers how to compete online and use various Internet tools and strategies to build their businesses, expand their markets, and boost profits, he added.

“The Internet can represent an entirely new market for our small business owners and artisans,” Adams said. “There may be some hesitation to tap into that market due to possible technological barriers or other reasons, but this expo is designed to lead folks step-by-step so that they can learn to literally market what they’re selling to the world.”

New for this year’s expo, participants can also learn how to build a rock-solid plan to organize and grow a business or business concept using the GrowthWheel model, a unique, customizable way of focusing on specific areas of need in a start-up or growth business.

GrowthWheel is a visual toolbox for business decision-making and action-planning that was designed around the observation that all businesses, in all industries and life stages, have four lasting challenges in common. They must create an attractive business concept, build a strong organization behind it, develop lasting Client Relations, and do all while maintaining profitable operations. GrowthWheel helps entrepreneurs build their businesses through a simple, action-oriented process that stays true to the way most entrepreneurs think and work.

Participants will be able to start with sessions that will be most beneficial to them, but will get a chance to experience each of the four key GrowthWheel sessions — led by certified GrowthWheel advisors from eastern Kentucky — during the two-day Expo.

“This year we want to give our participants a tool that will not only help them get started in business, but aid existing small business owners plan their growth and chart their expansion,” Adams said. “GrowthWheel provides us that tool, and this year’s schedule will allow participants to sit in on each of the four related sessions without having to miss anything.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to attend concurrent sessions covering a wide variety of topics during the Expo’s second day, from web design for small businesses and basic bookkeeping, to learning how to grow your business with social media marketing.

Other session topics during the two-day conference include:

• Small Business 101 and Creating a Winning Business Plan

• USDA food guidelines

• How to patent your product or idea

• Fulfillment by Amazon

• Capital business loans

• From hobby to profit

• Business law

• Market research and strategy

• Photography for marketing

• Selling at trade shows

• Exporting

Those who attend the expo will receive one year of free business consulting from the Kentucky Small Business Development Center to help them build upon the lessons learned at the event.

Fifteen attendees will also be selected to participate in a special program to receive free one-on-one custom business consulting at The Palace in downtown Middlesboro.

Local vendors offering products or services useful to business will also be on hand during the event.

“This expo is the perfect opportunity for small business owners or someone who either wants to turn a hobby into a full-time business, or turn a hobby into a really good supplement to their income,” Adams said.

Register on-site for $50 per person. Registration fees cover all expo activities such as speaker sessions, concurrent workshop sessions, GrowthWheel sessions, meals and vendor trade show.

Any area business interested in presenting during the expo’s vendor trade show can download a vendor registration packet online on the event’s website through the “Be a Vendor” tab. There are no setup fees to showcase your business during the expo.

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