A woman wearing eyeglasses and an apron over casual clothing sits at desk in her shop doing bookkeeping.
Most small business owners know that they need technology to stay in business, but in implementing those solutions, such as artificial intelligence, a large education gap remains. — Getty Images/xavierarnau

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Teneo, recently released an update to its 2022 “Empowering Small Business: The Impact of Technology on U.S. Small Business” report. The study provides a deeper understanding of how small business owners use technology to start, run, and grow their ventures.

This year’s update specifically focused on the use of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the technology platforms that help smaller sellers stay competitive. Here’s what we learned.

The majority of sellers use at least one tech platform

More small businesses than ever are adopting technology platforms to help run their business. In our report, 95% of small business owners in the U.S. say they use a technology platform for things like marketing, sales, social media, and digital payments.

The biggest change since 2022 has to do with how small businesses use tech. Most business owners say they use technology for marketing and promotions, up 8% since last year. Processing sales and communicating with customers are the second and third most common tasks, respectively. And nearly 10% more small businesses say they use technology for payroll compared to last year.

While sellers use at least one platform, a merchant has an average of four types of technology platforms integrated into their operations.

[Read more: 5 Must-Have Technologies for a Brand New Business]

Eighty two percent of high tech adopters realized increased profits compared with 68% of low tech adopters.

Empowering Small Business: The Impact of Technology on U.S. Small Business, Second Edition

Technology is fueling small business growth

Intuitively, we know that the right tech can make running a business easier. This year’s report confirms the link between technology and successful business growth. Small businesses that make greater use of technology platforms are more likely to have experienced a growth in sales and profits over the past year, as well as an increase in their workforce.

“​​For example, 80% of high tech adopters reported increases in sales compared with 68% of low tech adopters,” noted the report. “Eighty two percent of high tech adopters realized increased profits compared with 68% of low tech adopters.”

Likewise, high-tech businesses hired more workers compared to their low-tech adopter counterparts. We’re seeing a clear trend that high-tech adopters are increasing the likelihood of higher sales, profits, and growth by strategically adding new digital platforms.

[Read more: ​​8 HR Technology Trends for Innovation in 2023]

Small merchants are optimistic about AI

Twenty-three percent of small businesses already use AI — the majority of which use it for marketing and customer communications. However, 39% plan to add AI to their business operations in the future.

Small businesses have a good reason to feel bullish about AI. Those who have already adopted some AI tools report high satisfaction and improved performance. These businesses also saw a 12-point increase over non-AI users in their potential profitability.

Optimism about the use of AI ties into the larger attitude toward technology in general. The overwhelming majority of small business owners expect to increase their use of technology over the next two to three years. Along with AI and AI chatbots, smaller sellers are excited about the potential of cryptocurrency, augmented reality, and metaverse/virtual reality technologies.

An education gap remains for many business owners

Although many merchants report interest in adopting new technologies, some struggle to bring that interest to fruition. Small business owners recognize that they need technology to keep their businesses afloat, but as they seek newer technology solutions, a large education gap remains. Not every merchant understands how to implement AI and other platforms.

“Without the right policies in place to encourage a virtuous cycle of technology development and adoption, small businesses could lose their ability to adapt and confront the new challenges of the 21st century economy,” said the report’s authors.

Training and upskilling are investments that all business owners should consider — not only for your workforce but also for your own leadership and development. Technology has proven vital to keeping small businesses in the market. It’s exciting to see how businesses will continue to evolve with these new platforms.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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