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New Study: Digital Tools Empower Small Businesses and Drive Growth

February 1, 2022 (Washington, DC): A new survey from the Connected Commerce Council (3C) shows that digital tools continue to empower small business owners and decision-makers (SMBs) to expand their business and drive growth. More than 90% of SMBs use digital tools to engage with customers, 87% to grow their customer base, and 84% to sell products and services. And although two-thirds of all SMBs believe the economy is struggling, 73% of SMBs that use digital tools are optimistic about the future. That confidence grows among Black and Hispanic small businesses, with more than 80% feeling optimistic because of digital tools.

“Despite small businesses’ fears about a struggling economy, digital tools continue to shine a light at the end of the tunnel,” said 3C Executive Director Rob Retzlaff. “Opening a new business is never easy, but digital tools including online advertising, social media, and back office management consistently help small businesses unlock opportunities in order to succeed. It is increasingly clear that digital tools are providing the infrastructure for President Biden’s ‘American economy for the 21st Century.’”

3C commissioned the survey of 2,000 small businesses to better understand how digital tools from companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon help small businesses grow and succeed. The results are clear – small businesses overwhelmingly believe that digital tools are an important part of their business operation that help attract new customers and bolster revenue.

The report’s key findings on digital tools and their value to small businesses include:

  • 87% said that using digital tools to find new customers was an important part of their business
  • 84% use digital tools to sell products/services and drive revenue
  • 82% use digital tools as an important and valuable part of their business operations
  • 78% said that digital tool adoption during the pandemic created more opportunities for their businesses

Digital tools are proving especially advantageous to Black and Hispanic small businesses. Notable statistics include:

  • 73% of SMBs, including 82% of Black- and 81% of Hispanic-led SMBs, feel more optimistic about the future of their business during the pandemic because of digital tools
  • 78% of SMBs, including 83% of Black- and 85% of Hispanic-led SMBs, found a noticeable impact when using digital tools to expand their business
  • 79% of SMBs, including 85% of Black- and 85% of Hispanic-led SMBs, stated that digital tools increased their businesses’ ability to collaborate, work efficiently, be more agile, and shift strategy quickly.

“If digital tools disappear or become more expensive, starting and building a business would be even harder for all entrepreneurs – a direct deterrent to the parallel processes of venture and innovation – and doubly limiting for minority entrepreneurs.” said Monica Wheat, founder Venture Catalysts in Detroit. 

“As a Black businesswoman, I’ve used digital tools to keep my company alive during the worst of the pandemic. Email marketing and social media are critically important to my store’s growth and success,” said Mimi Striplin, owner of The Tiny Tassel in Charleston, SC.

The survey of 2,000 SMBs, with additional oversamples of Black- and Hispanic-led SMBs, was conducted by Catalyst Research from Nov. 29, 2021 to Dec. 9, 2021, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1% (MoE larger for subgroups).

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