In the US, small businesses account for almost half of all private sector employment. Small businesses that make the most of digital tools see significant benefits.

Basic, Intermediate, Advanced.

Basic: Many small businesses have an email address and maybe a Facebook page. They may not be using any other social media and may not be using digital tools internally.

Intermediate: Some small businesses have a proper website and are using two or more social media channels, but the website is extremely basic. They may be aware that the internet is a cheap means to connect to a larger customer base but do not see any benefit to internal digital tools.

Advanced: Some small businesses have a solid website with Advanced features, such as being mobile optimized and supporting e-commerce. They also use digital tools internally to track data or improve productivity. Video conferencing is one of the more commonly used internal digital tools

The Benefits.

Advanced use of digital tools can lead yo increased revenues, up to twice as much per employee. Digitally Advanced small businesses are more likely than their counterparts to be creating jobs and exporting their products.

Digital tools can allow employees to work from home or to track important information when in the field. The right software can help keep everyone on the same page no matter where they are.

Room for Growth.

The good news is that digital tools can help level the playing field for small businesses. The bad news is that about four out of five small businesses are not getting as much as they could out of digital tools. This is usually not due to inability to use such tools.

Although most small business owners are savvy enough to use such tools in their personal lives, they may simply not see them as relevant to their work. In many cases, they need to have their attitude changed more than they need training per se with how the tools work.

Small business owners and local development agencies can both play a role in spreading the word, especially in small towns.