The Connected Commerce Council (3C) recently hosted a webinar attended by hundreds of small business leaders from across the country to preview what to expect from the upcoming Congressional session and discuss what policymakers must do to prioritize small business issues and foster a stable business environment.
Dozens of attendees submitted questions before, during, and after the live webinar wanting to learn more about these important issues and how they may impact their business. Below is a selection of the Top 10 questions that were submitted. If you have more questions after watching the webinar or reading this post, email 3C, and we will get back to you.
1. What are some of the issues and pieces of legislation Congress considered this past year that could affect small businesses?
Congress has spent the past year trying to pass antitrust legislation, specifically the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA/S.2992). Congress’s proposed legislation would change the model for small businesses that use a range of free and low-cost digital tools that would ultimately change the math of doing business. This legislation would make free and low-cost digital tools that small businesses love harder to use and more expensive. A recent Dartmouth study showed that small businesses would lose $500 billion in sales – or $100,000 each – in the first five years after the AICOA takes effect, should it be passed and signed into law.
The House and Senate also proposed data privacy legislation that did not gain much traction this year but is likely to re-emerge in 2023. Protecting consumer data is always important, but it’s just as important to ensure small businesses have access to safe and secure digital technologies that help them find customers and grow their businesses.
Beyond legislation, federal agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are also concerned about privacy and are considering new rules on the collection and storing of consumer data, which could make it harder and more expensive for small businesses to advertise online. Several small businesses submitted comments to the FTC expressing concerns over any new rules that could impact relevant advertising.
2. Can you say specifically how small businesses would be affected if Congress were to pass the American Innovation and Choice Online Act?
Passing the AICOA would lead to unintended consequences making digital advertising, business software like Google Workspace, and tools like Google Analytics more expensive and difficult to use.
- If Google Ads and Google Analytics (which is free) were forcibly separated, small businesses could no longer access critical data offered by Google Analytics on the effectiveness of their ads. They may be forced to use other, more costly analytics services that are not nearly as effective as Google Analytics because it is seamlessly integrated with Google Ads.
- Amazon has seamlessly integrated its fulfillment services, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) with Amazon Prime, to make it easy for third-party sellers to qualify for Prime. FBA helps sellers guarantee shipping speeds, the backbone of Prime that consumers love, and saves small businesses 60% over fulfilling orders themselves. Small businesses can still qualify to sell on Prime even if they don’t use FBA, so long as they can guarantee shipping times. But if Amazon can no longer integrate FBA with Prime, small business sellers lose the advantage of easily qualifying for Prime and the benefits that come along with it, including gaining access to millions of Prime shoppers and better product placement.
The bill has yet to come for a final vote. The current legislative session is still ongoing and will conclude on January 3, 2023. Although it is highly unlikely, Congress could pass the AICOA in the middle of the night anytime between now and the end of the year. We urge small businesses to let their Senators and Representatives know that they have serious concerns about this bill.
3. What issues is Congress likely to consider in 2023 that could impact small businesses?
In addition to continuing to pursue antitrust and privacy legislation, some lawmakers are considering rewriting the rules around how websites host third-party content, like customer reviews. If platforms were legally responsible for all the content posted to their website, it would make services like reviews on Google Business Profiles impossible to function as intended, and it could lead to unnecessary problems for small businesses. Web platforms are vital to small businesses. Without review sites, video platforms, and other social media tools, small businesses could not achieve scale and find customers like they do today.
4. Do lawmakers understand that the antitrust legislation they worked on this year will hurt small businesses rather than help?
Every issue is a small business issue. Unfortunately, some lawmakers are so focused on the idea that big has to be bad and they need to do something, they are ignorant that small businesses would be collateral damage to their efforts. This is where small businesses can do so much more to get involved before legislation is passed. Legislators must hear from small businesses to understand how they use the tools and services provided by large platforms to understand that these bills are problematic. There are 32.5 million small businesses in America today, and they are the backbone of our economy. If even a portion of those small businesses contacted their lawmakers, they would have no choice but to understand the bills’ impact.
5. I’m a small business website designer that works with small businesses and non-profits. How do I protect my business and my clients’ business now and in the future with the way Congress may change the laws?
Advocacy is a crucial part of ensuring Congress does right by small businesses. 3C works with small businesses to set up meetings with elected officials at all levels of government so businesses can explain how digital tools and services help them succeed. There’s an old saying – if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu – so speaking up and making your voice heard is essential. Send a letter to your Member of Congress about the importance of digital tools to your business, or email 3C to get involved.
6. How do you stay up-to-date on all the different policies coming from Congress? Do you recommend any publications or newsletters?
Click here to sign up for our 3C Insider monthly newsletter, where you can stay updated on what’s happening in Congress and how you can become an advocate. You can also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram for helpful resources and great opportunities to get involved!
7. As a small business owner from the West Coast, are there opportunities for me to meet my members of Congress without having to travel?
Yes. We recognize that small business owners are extremely busy, and taking time off of work to advocate is hard. At 3C, we help make it as easy as possible for you to have a voice and a seat at the table.
We have helped set up hundreds of virtual meetings connecting elected officials with small businesses from across the country. We also work with small businesses to set up meetings in legislators’ local district offices to reduce travel. Email 3C to learn more about how you can get involved.
8. When reaching out to my elected officials, do you have any tips for how to get my message across?
If you want to contact your elected officials, email 3C, and we will help you hone your message and get your story across. We have worked with thousands of businesses to write letters to lawmakers, author and submit opinion articles to their local newspapers and participate in meetings. We are here to help small businesses be the best advocates they can be.
9. What types of issues do elected officials want to hear from a small business?
Elected officials want to know what issues affect your business the most and what they can do to make your life easier. When talking to an elected official, it’s essential to let them know the value of your business to the community, how you successfully leverage digital tools and online platforms, and what Congress must do to keep a friendly business environment.
10. This is a great webinar! Will you be doing any more in the near future?
Yes! Keep an eye out for invitations to join upcoming webinars and events in the new year! If you’re interested in getting involved or learning more, please send us an email!