Washington, DC — New research from the Connected Commerce Council and Greenberg, documents for the first time that early and intensive small business adoption of digital tools led directly to more revenue and more hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report surveyed more than 2,000 small businesses nationwide. The data documents that those small businesses that intensively adopted “Digital Safety Net” tools pre-pandemic, including online advertising, social media, financial and organizational software, and online marketplaces, lost only 12% of revenue during COVID-19 compared to 23% for digitally uncertain small businesses, and digitally advanced businesses also hired new employees at more than twice the rate. These early digital-adopter businesses are not just surviving; they are thriving and will be much better prepared for the coming post-pandemic era.
“This is the first study that examines small business data from the full year of the COVID-19 crisis, and it conclusively links the use of digital technologies to better revenue and more hiring,” said David Audretsch, a Distinguished Professor and economist at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Editor-in-Chief of Small Business Economics. “While that points to small business preparedness for the post-pandemic world, it also points to a new small business digital divide and underscores the need for state and federal governments, small business advocates, and technology companies to prioritize education and training resources for small businesses struggling to adapt and take advantage of Digital Safety Net tools.”
One year into the pandemic, 59% of small businesses also reported that digital tools are more helpful to them now than prior to the start of the lockdowns and restrictions caused by COVID-19.
“Building on previous 3C/Greenberg research, this report proves once again that the Digital Safety Net is real and that it helps small businesses survive economic downturns and emerge stronger than businesses that do not embrace technology,” added Jake Ward, President of the Connected Commerce Council. “The past year has seen tremendous small business suffering. But for small businesses that are still struggling, it is never too late to integrate Digital Safety Net tools into your business.”