A nationwide study and economic analysis from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is revealing the effect of technology platforms on small businesses and the economy.
The analysis found that not only have various technology platforms played a critical role in helping small business owners start, run, and grow their business—as well as survive economic turbulence—but also those small businesses who fully embrace technology are outcompeting their peers and are more optimistic about the future.
“Despite historic inflation and two quarters of negative economic growth, small business owners have proven themselves resilient time and time again, aided in part by technology platforms like digital advertising, business software and delivery apps that power operational efficiencies and provide increased access to customers,” said Jordan Crenshaw, vice president of the U.S. Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center.
According to the analysis, when small businesses use technology, it delivers tangible economic benefits. Small businesses that utilize technology platforms directly employ or support the employment of more than 99.8 million jobs in the U.S. and contribute $17.7 trillion to the economy annually.
Ninety-three percent of today’s small business owners report using at least one type of technology platform to help run their business, with the average owner utilizing three different platforms. Of those, 85% report that technology platforms helped to get their business up and running, and 94% report that technology helps them run their business more efficiently.
Eighty-six percent of small business owners in the U.S. believe that technology platforms have helped their business survive through COVID-19, and 87% believe technology has helped them grow in challenging conditions.
Small businesses that incorporate more technology platforms into their operations are also more likely to have seen growth in their sales, profits, and employment since 2020. Eighty-four percent of small business power adopters (those using 6+ technology platforms) saw an increase in profits, 82% saw increased sales, and 74% increased their employment compared to their low adopter peers (using 1 or less platforms) who were less likely to see growth in these areas, 65%, 59%, and 54% respectively.
In addition to the economic benefits, small business owners are seeing personal benefits as well. Nearly nine-in-ten (88%) of small business owners say that the use of technology platforms helps them to find more enjoyment in running their business and 80% agree that it helps them have more time to spend away from their businesses and with their family, instead.
When it comes to the future, 89% of small businesses are either very or somewhat optimistic—and that faith is enhanced based on their utilization of technology. Those small businesses adopting technology the most (6 or more platforms) are twice as likely as those with low adoption (0 to 1 platforms) to be very optimistic. And small businesses using a wide range of technologies are expecting faster growth in everything from customer acquisition to sales, to employment, to profits over the next two to three years when compared to businesses that have adopted fewer technologies.
As a result, most small businesses plan to continue making investments in their use of technology with 83% reporting they will boost their use of technology platforms across their business in the next two to three years, and 63% plan to use the most advanced tech, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality.
In conjunction with the analysis, the Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC) issued a set of recommendations for policymakers that would promote technological development and adoption to ensure small businesses can continue to leverage digital tools and resources. Among C_TEC’s recommendations is enacting smart, national data privacy legislation that protects all Americans equally and promoting the gig economy to avoid unnecessary limitations on flexible work.