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Wild, Wonderful & Wired: Internet helps home-based business owners

Wild, Wonderful & Wired — Provided through a collaboration of Mission West Virginia, Future Generations Graduate School and Frontier Communications
Wild, Wonderful & Wired — Provided through a collaboration of Mission West Virginia,
Future Generations Graduate School and Frontier Communications

Editor’s Note: “Wild, Wonderful & Wired” is a collaboration of Mission West Virginia, Future Generations Graduate School and Frontier Communications. 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gaining access to the Internet can create opportunities for the budding entrepreneur.

West Virginia residents who have solid ideas and inspiration are earning their livings from their homes, small offices and even kitchens. The Internet is a major element of their business plan.

Understanding computers and learning how to access and use the Internet do not have to be barriers for those who are motivated to succeed in business. Acquiring that familiarity can be a valuable first step that increases a new business’ prospects for success.

Artists, food producers and myriad other small West Virginia business owners are finding new ways to sell their products. Businesses with Internet websites are using them to make the world aware of their products and services. They also are building their businesses in other ways through their Internet connections.

Mark DeFalco, telecommunications officer with the Appalachian Regional Commission, helped Mission West Virginia – a West Virginia nonprofit that has provided computer and Internet training – teach 25 to 30 e-commerce classes across West Virginia that focused on using the Internet to generate business. The classes focused on how broadband – the gateway to the Internet – is supporting businesses by allowing their owners to find the best sources and prices for raw materials, conduct market research and promote their businesses’ products and services. ARC provided teaching materials that formed the core of Mission West Virginia’s e-Commerce program.

Some small businesses, DeFalco said, use the Internet to provide more customized product options. He mentioned a small boat builder in Appalachia who would fill an order and post pictures on his website during the construction process. The Internet gave the buyer a chance to be part of the creative process and allowed the business to create a niche in the market by building the customer a one-of-a-kind product. That is a lesson entrepreneurs can use to make their products more desirable and valuable to buyers.

DeFalco said the Internet can support additional aspects of a business operation, benefitting business managers as well as consumers. This support ranges from customer reviews posted online to available data on website visitation rates.

We all recognize the world has changed. We also understand that we can adapt, acquire new skills and learn to use new tools that help us accomplish tasks that we never thought possible.

The Internet is one of those tools, and thousands of West Virginians are taking advantage of it.

“Wild, Wonderful & Wired” is a collaboration of Mission West Virginia, Future Generations Graduate School and Frontier Communications. Mission West Virginia and Future Generations Graduate School are nonprofit organizations that have provided computer and Internet training to West Virginia residents. Readers interested in learning more about computers and using the Internet are encouraged to contact  local friends, neighbors or organizations that provide training.  A list of computer labs with trained mentors is available online at: In addition, persons interested in receiving training or purchasing a computer through Mission West Virginia may call 304-523-0623.



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