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The Learning Center

General Overview

These case studies stand as an example to help other entrepreneurs relate to the story behind the business. Small business owners seeking inspiration and confidence to develop or enhance their Web presence can learn from the actual Web sites associated with the case studies. In addition, they can relate to the process which other small businesses undertook to develop and manage their e-commerce strategies and accompanying Web sites. Case studies can also be used in program marketing presentations with business and civic groups, development organizations, youth entrepreneurship groups, or in consultations with individual business owners.

We recommend that a wide variety of case studies be used. Selecting several similar case studies would not be appropriate at early stages of learning if instructors are hoping to expand participants’ knowledge of the various ways businesses are using e-commerce. A narrowly-focused approach would also increase the risk of not connecting with the audience, especially if their possible interests are not known.

In later sessions, more specific case studies can be selected to illustrate points or to re-energize the participants’ interest in the subject. Additional case study examples can be selectively used to illustrate specific lessons learned as participants explore implementation strategies for their own businesses. This approach would be especially useful for those instructors positioned to provide follow-through technical assistance or consultation to these businesses. Sector-specific case studies sucuh as the "Grown Locally" case study that features a local food system can be used to illustrate examples and provide lessons learned for owners in similar businesses.

Further, lessons learned from one sector can have cross-over applicability to other sectors facing similar situations, so instructors should look for and exploit opportunities to facilitate cross-sector learning. For example, a sector-specific case study, such as one for retail hardware business, may be applicable to many other sectors for its focus on visual representation on the Internet.

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