Helping small businesses connect online

Small business owners weathering the coronavirus pandemic will receive a helping hand thanks to a free La Trobe University program aimed at boosting their abilities to operate online.

Design and Grow Your Digital Presence runs for eight weeks and is likely to draw strong interest from regional businesses affected by the economic downturn, needing to upskill in areas such as redefining their business model, digital storytelling and social marketing.

The program is funded by the Victorian Government and developed in partnership with Investible, a leading early-stage investment group and experts in entrepreneurial and business development.

It is part of suite of positive initiatives La Trobe has created in response to the pandemic, including the COVID-19 Industry Response Program – a 12-week program already supporting 20 small businesses across the state, and Leaders in Lockdown, a short online MBA taster program.

Design and Grow Your Digital Presence will support small business across a range of sectors, including hospitality, tourism, health and fitness, retail, manufacturing and the arts – with a strong focus on the regions.

La Trobe Pro Vice-Chancellor (Industry Engagement) Dr Megan Fisher said the University is experienced in successfully supporting small businesses through initiatives like La Trobe Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.

“We work closely with business-owners every day. We know the significant challenges many of them now face, as they respond to this ever-changing situation. In many cases it’s not just their business that is affected, but the livelihood, and wellbeing of their staff, and community,” Dr Fisher said.

“Our latest program will go beyond helping Victoria’s businesses and communities weather this pandemic. Its positive impact will last for years to come. We’re pleased to be able to deliver it for free to businesses, thanks to the support of the Victorian Government.”

Head of Global Partners and Programs at Investible Ms Elisa-Marie Dumas said the program was specifically designed for owners of bricks and mortar businesses who, until recently, have relied on face-to-face customer interactions.

“Many small business-owners have been overwhelmed by the enormity of the current situation, and are looking for guidance as to where to focus their energy,” Ms Dumas said.

“This program will offer a mix of interactive and self-service workshops led by business, retail and digital marketing experts to help businesses reset their priorities and learn how they can lead their business through this and other periods of great change.”

Participants will take part in online learning modules, gaining valuable insight into areas including redefining their business strategy, digital content and storytelling, email marketing, social marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO).

Design and Grow Your Digital Presence commences in August 2020, and business owners from all sectors are welcome to apply. Those based in regional Victoria – or who have a focus on supporting customers or suppliers in regional areas – are particularly encouraged to apply.

Media Contact: Kate O’Connor – k.o’connor@latrobe.edu.au – 0436 189 629

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