We are always keeping an out for interesting data about the state of the SMB marketplace. This week we found that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had released a new nationwide survey and economic analysis measuring the effect of technology platforms on small businesses and the economy.
The survey and analysis were conducted by Teneo between late February and late March 2022. For those of you unfamiliar with Teneo, it is a New York-based global consulting and advisory firm. As a footnote, former Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan was just named a vice-chairman of the firm.
The analysis (find it here) makes the case that technology is genuinely helping small businesses survive the current economic turbulence.
“Despite historic inflation and two quarters of negative economic growth, small business owners have proven themselves resilient time and time again,” said Jordan Crenshaw, the Chamber’s Vice President of their Technology Engagement Center. “Aided in part by technology platforms like digital advertising, business software, and delivery apps that power operational efficiencies and provide increased access to customers.”
Connecting the Dots
It is always interesting to connect the dots and understand why the SMB market is so important. As they point out, SMBs employ or support the employment of more than 99 million jobs. And they contribute $17.7 trillion to the economy every year. So Crenshaw went on to say this. “By leveraging technology, small businesses are playing an outsized role and are essential to America’s economic growth.”
On to the findings. These key findings struck us the most profoundly.
- 93% of today’s small business owners report using at least one type of technology platform to help run their business. And the average owner utilizes three different platforms. Of the 93%, 85%, or 80% of the total, report that technology platforms helped them get their business up and running. Meanwhile, 94% report that technology helps them run their business more efficiently.
- 86% percent of small business owners in the U.S. believe that technology platforms helped their business survive through COVID-19. And 87% believe technology has helped them grow in challenging conditions.
- 88% say their use of technology platforms helps them find more enjoyment in running their business. And 80% said technology helps them spend more time away from their business and with their family.
One interesting finding was that business optimism appears to align with the number of technology solutions an SMB is using. The survey shows that small businesses adopting technology the most (6 or more platforms) are more than twice as likely as those with low adoption (0 to 1 platforms) to be very optimistic about the future.
We’d suggest that those business owners who have adopted new technologies are finally beginning to see real benefits as noted above where 88% are finding more enjoyment.
More Tech Investments Coming
Most small businesses say they plan to continue making investments in their use of technology. In fact, 83% said they will boost their use of technology platforms across their business in the next two to three years. Another 63% plan to use the most advanced technologies, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality.
To us, that means we’ll see leading-edge SMBs pushing vendors for even more interesting tech solutions in the future. Those solutions will likely first be deployed at the enterprise level. Then it will cascade down to the SMB market. Think AR/VR shopping experiences.
The Chamber also worked with Teneo to conduct a consumer side survey where 1,000 consumers were surveyed between July 14 and July 16, 2022. The objective was to understand how they were using technology to engage with businesses. Some of the findings were SMB-specific. Those survey results are here.
That survey segmented respondents by their generational segment – e.g. Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. It was both unsurprising and reassuring that Millennial and Gen Z business owners were generally more positive and enthusiastic about tech adoption.
We found both of these pieces of research revealing. They helped further our understanding of the current and future landscape of the small business world. We hope you do too.