The inaugural edition of the U.S. Chamber’s Empowering Small Businessreport in 2022 revealed how technology helped small businesses support about 100 million jobs and contribute $17.7 trillion to the U.S. economy during the pandemic, with 86% of small businesses saying tech was their “lifeline.” 

Now, in 2023, the report’s second edition underscores how various technology platforms play a critical role in helping small businesses navigate challenges—like workforce shortages and inflation—and how small businesses that embrace technology outperform their peers and are more optimistic about the future. Companies are also looking at emerging technologies like AI to add to their arsenal of digital tools to compete and expand their business.

To measure the effect that a diverse range of technology platforms has had on small businesses and the economy, the Chamber Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC), working with Teneo Research, conducted a nationwide survey and econometric analysis of the U.S. small business ecosystem. We found that technology is a driver of economic success for small businesses and that policymakers must encourage an environment that enables all businesses to succeed with digital tools. 

Small businesses that incorporate technology platforms are more likely to see growth in their sales, profits, and employment

One in four small businesses have adopted Artificial Intelligence (AI), leading to improved performance in marketing and communications. AI users saw a 12-point increase in their likelihood of profit growth over non-AI users. 

Despite the benefits of technology, about half of small business owners express concerns over potential tech regulations and the increased costs and litigation stemming from out-of-state regulations.

95% of small businesses use at least one technology platform

$17.7 trillion and more than 99 million jobs are supported by small businesses when they use technology

87% of Small Businesses report increased efficiency due to technology platforms

Policy Recommendations

With nearly one-quarter of small businesses already using AI and seeing value from it, Congress should ensure that the United States remains competitive and promotes innovation while mitigating risk. In March 2023, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Commission on AI Competitiveness, Inclusion, and Innovation released a report highlighting the need for a risk-based approach to AI regulation and not one-size-fits-all bans, pauses, or rules.

Eighty-two percent of small businesses believe that the government should invest in IT modernization to help streamline and improve important small business needs like permitting and professional licensure. By investing in upgraded IT, the government will provide better service to constituents and save money in the long run.

With 4 in 5 small businesses stating that limiting access to data could be harmful to their operations, it is vital that Congress pass a national privacy law that protects all Americans equally. Small businesses are disproportionately impacted by compliance costs.

Many small businesses depend on Section 230 of the Communications Act to provide their services over the internet while avoiding costly and burdensome litigation expenses. Congress should reject calls to outright repeal this landmark law. 

Congress should refrain from passing competition legislation that singles out particular companies for enforcement and those that deprive the companies that offer small business the tools that are making them competitive of due process. 

Small businesses using third-party delivery have benefited in terms of growth, employment, and revenue. Government should not impose limitations on flexible work by misclassifying gig economy participants or preventing app-based delivery companies from communicating legitimate earnings and flexible opportunities to the public. 

For small businesses to fully see the benefits of AI technology, the United States must adopt a robust national AI strategy that addresses the workforce, rules for AI, and global competition. 

Government must promote a 21st century workforce that includes small business owners such as making investments in STEM and computer science education to prepare the next generation of digital tool developers. 

Broadband access is essential for small businesses to utilize many digital tools and connect with consumers across the country. Policymakers must make targeted investments in high-speed broadband in unserved areas and address broadband affordability for low-income Americans.

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