Technology industry narratives often focus on huge opportunities and risks: disruption, angel investors, unicorns, antitrust, data privacy, and cybersecurity. These narratives are compelling, but they miss an important story: that millions of small businesses are enabled and boosted by digital technology, and that our economy and society are stronger as a result. These are the stories of the new Connected Commerce Council (3C).
3C is a non-profit that is accelerating and celebrating small business empowerment through the use of digital technology and online platforms. 3C Founding Board members are living examples of a phenomenon highlighted recently by a Deloitte study: that digitally-powered small businesses generate twice the revenue and four times the profit of competitors that do not utilize technology effectively.
Individual stories are inspiring. They include hair stylists who turn a 15-minute Instagram lesson into posts that generate new clients, and $5 investments in social advertising that generate meaningful revenue. More significant, however, is the broader view: the scale of small business partnership with digital platforms and tools is remarkably underappreciated.
For many platforms, their largest customer base is the “small business industry.” Consider how many architects, designers, contractors and decorators work with Houzz and Pinterest; how many personal services firms use QuickBooks, Freshbooks and Expensify; and how many small businesses use Google AdWords for marketing, integrate Stripe (for payments) into their WordPress website, or have a Facebook Business page?
Small businesses appreciate that technology has created opportunity and flexibility. Amazon Web Services got startups online without needing to buy servers or sign expensive web hosting contracts. Freshbooks allowed a CEO/mom in Texas to work with a finance/mom in Hawaii, and know that invoices will be sent and accounts updated before morning. And Facebook powers low-budget marketing into high-revenue results.
Small businesses are concerned that government regulation of digital platforms and tools could harm the businesses that rely on them. Governments are scrutinizing platforms and online tool providers like Facebook, Google, and Amazon; considering new laws that could dramatically affect their business products and services. 3C will fight for small businesses’ access to and use of the digital tools and technologies they need to compete and succeed.
3C’s members are community leaders, job creators, and the backbone of our shared economy. On behalf of small businesses empowered by digital tools and in partnership with our membership, 3C will work with policymakers at every level of government to support understanding and appreciation of the interwoven digitally powered economy and the importance of digital tools to small businesses. It is critical, now more than ever, that we work together toward the shared goal of a thriving small businesses driven economy, and we are eager to help.