The latest research shows that more than half of all businesses don’t have a website, measure the results of their marketing efforts, have a social media account, or use digital tools to support their business accounting. 

In today’s global economy, the barriers to start a business are falling faster than ever before. But for businesses that ignore, or cannot access, the many cutting edge digital tools powering today’s marketplace, the prospects for success are diminishing. To stay competitive, small businesses need access to digital tools and strategies for their daily operations. And, this isn’t just a challenge for business.  Government, too, needs to modernize so that we don’t inadvertently hamstring the new businesses our nation needs to succeed.

“Reducing trade barriers and increasing best practices for safe trade make it possible for more small businesses to get a foothold in the global marketplace.”

Leveraging partnerships

Earlier this year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched the Small Business Technology Coalition to help entrepreneurs respond to these emerging challenges. This groundbreaking public-private partnership with Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and many others, leverages the digital tools to ensure small businesses can compete and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

Streamlining systems 

President Obama has shown a keen understanding of how technology is changing the ways entrepreneurs do business. That’s why SBA and the White House launched the Startup in a Day initiative, which aims to make life easier for entrepreneurs by working with local governments to streamline the process for starting a business. As a result, online permitting systems are saving time and money for the next generation of entrepreneurs, with more progress to come.

Growing through exports

The internet has created enormous opportunities for small businesses, making it possible to reach global consumers through e-commerce platforms while providing protection against many of the risks associated with international business. Reducing trade barriers and increasing best practices for safe trade make it possible for more small businesses to get a foothold in the global marketplace. This means governments must clear—not create—obstacles to international commerce.

A great example is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP represents a step forward in this regard for U.S. small businesses by reducing tariffs, preserving a free and open internet, preventing the spread of “forced localization” of technologies and servers, and prohibiting the imposition of customs duties or other discriminatory measures on digital products.

When you start a small business, you wear many hats: CEO, salesperson, bookkeeper and janitor. Today, you also have to be the chief technology officer, navigating when and how to lean into the digital economy. To continue to spur innovation through small businesses, our nation’s economic engines, we must continue to provide access to modern tools.