The bottom line is that technology continues to change the world. In fact, it has changed the business landscape and the global economy several times over. Through the advancements in artificial intelligence and the decreasing cost of computing power, there will be another massive shift in the way people communicate and work in the next century. In the same way that the industrial revolution empowered entrepreneurs to construct iconic enterprises like Black & Decker and Ford, signs are there of the way the digital revolution is giving Main Street the competitive edge.
99% of firms in American are small and medium-sized businesses, powering American commerce. Through hiring, promoting diversity, and participating in the global market, these entrepreneurs strengthen both their local communities and the US economy. These owners are increasingly counting on technology to begin and grow their businesses.
It is no secret that technology is used to support millions of small and medium-sized businesses in the US. Simply consider the way Amazon enables online sales. Or think about the variety of digital shops that have popped up on eBay and Facebook. Everything from the way small companies market and ship their products to the way consumers find and purchase them is continually shaken up through new technologies. Each new innovation brings improved tools for running small and medium-sized businesses and engaging with potential clients.
The transition to a digital economy is happening so quickly that we are in the beginning stages of understanding the extent to which technology is transforming the world for small businesses. More than 70 billion small businesses throughout the world actively utilize FaceBook. Using this fact as a jumping off point, we can begin to comprehend the role digital platforms take in the development and the future of US small businesses.
The Chamber of Technology Engagement Center, the policy hub at the US Chamber of Commerce, partnered with Morning Consult and polled 1000 small and medium-sized business. This means companies with less than 500 employees. This is just a taste of what we are learning about small and medium-sized companies in general and how they utilize technology to fuel growth.
28 million small businesses account for 2/3 of new jobs and generate more than ½ of the US’s economic output, according to the US Small Business Administration. The poll showed that almost half of small and medium-sized companies that use Instagram, WhatsApp, and FaceBook have hired more people because of the increased demand for their products or services. On average, 43% of the businesses surveyed use digital platforms to retain and recruit staff.
Additionally, technology breaks down geographic barriers and this includes Main Street businesses. E-commerce and social media platforms have made it possible for small and medium-sized companies to reach clients well beyond the borders of their city or even state. This is a particularly large advantage for owners in rural areas.
It is not surprising, therefore, that ½ or more of small and medium-sized business leaders surveyed in 14 rural states said that FaceBook is the essential tool for their business growth. This allows small and medium-sized businesses based in rural locations the best of both worlds. Their actual location means lower overhead costs and proximity to their cherished community. Yet, these businesses can still reach clients around the world.
Because of technology, small and medium-sized businesses can participate in the global market with greater ease. This can mean marketing, exporting, and selling their goods abroad. Even though they are small, these businesses have an enormous role in global trade, accounting for 98% of US exporters and approximately 1/3 of merchandise exports. For instance, more than 120,000 US small and medium-sized companies export to Mexico and/or Canada. Of the businesses surveyed, nearly 80% sell products and services to more than one country.
Entrepreneurs require technology to run their businesses, no matter the size. As consumers continue to move online to make purchases and look for services, small and medium-sized companies have a unique opportunity to facilitate new relationships and market share. The preliminary research findings demonstrate that technology helps small and medium companies support local economies across the US, create jobs, and generate new opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation.
It is essential to bring a clear understanding of the role technology plays in the development and growth of the small business economy. This is not only to nurture and sustain economic health amidst today’s ongoing digital transformation, but also to ensure that the millions of Americans touched by small companies benefit from the economic security and the opportunities it offers for decades.