Author Archives: Erica Swanson

Why digital tools are a safety net for small businesses

For businesses trying to stay afloat, like Morgan Miller Plumbing in Grandview, Missouri, digital tools are instrumental. While the onset of COVID-19 was full of unknowns, CEO Stella Crewse says it gave her an opportunity to make her business stronger. “This experience has given us the confidence that we will be able to continue operations seamlessly no matter what comes our way,” Stella says.

Stella’s company was already using digital tools when COVID-19 hit, but in recent months has realized how necessary they are. Her team uses G Suite to share documents and stay organized and video conferencing to stay connected. They’ve even used  Google Maps to identify new sewer line paths without leaving the office in order to follow social distancing guidelines. 

A new report, released today by the Connected Commerce Council in partnership with Google, shows how a “digital safety net” can serve as a support system for small businesses like Morgan Miller Plumbing, and helps to mitigate the negative business effects of COVID-19.

According to the report, practically all small businesses—93 percent—were disrupted by the pandemic, facing reduced customer demand and hours of operations as well as employee layoffs. Eighty-five percent of small businesses say COVID–19 made them rethink their approach to digital tools, allowing them to adapt. 

The study also found that businesses that had a digital safety net in place and used a variety of digital tools—like digital ads, digital payments, data analytics and customer insights tools—not only felt better prepared, but also experienced dramatically better business outcomes, expecting less than a quarter of the revenue reduction compared to their digitally unprepared counterparts. And states with a higher share of digitally prepared businesses anticipate better revenue outcomes in 2020.
Drivers business index v. Projected revenue loss SMBs

This research also found that small business leaders of color have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic and are roughly half as likely as white-run businesses to have received aid through public loans for their business needs. Businesses that have remained open despite a lack of funding attribute their resilience to embracing technology.

The crisis expedited digital momentum for small businesses: Nearly three-in-four increased their use of digital tools, particularly video conferencing, over the last five months. But not all American small- and medium-sized businesses have a digital safety net. To best serve the needs of every business, we’re introducing new Grow with Google lessons, helping business owners learn how to build an online presence, find more customers, sell online or work remotely. The content varies from two-minute tutorial videos to live workshops, and ranges from beginner level to advanced, so every business can find what they need to become more prepared. 

On the Google for Small Business website, business owners can find personalized Google product recommendations for their business, as well as helpful tips and practical guides to help small businesses get the most of these tools. 

And to reach even more small businesses, Grow with Google is partnering with SCORE and the International Downtown Association(iDA)  to complete a series of affordable and easily accessible Grow with Google workshops for 50,000 small businesses across the U.S. We will continue our partnerships with more than 7,500 organizations to bring virtual training events to local communities across the country. 

With this plan, we’re hopeful we’ll be able to help more leaders like Stella acquire the digital skills they need to help their business recover and grow moving forward. 

Libraries help entrepreneurs write their next chapter

In our over 20 years working with small businesses, we’ve met countless entrepreneurs who have turned problems into opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for small businesses, and we’re committed to finding new ways to support these problem-solvers who are the cornerstones of their communities. That’s why this year alone Google has committed over $300 million to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in the U.S. 

Thanks to a $2 million grant from, one of the ways we are supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs is through the work of local libraries. Today, as part of our longstanding support of the American Library Association (ALA), we’re announcing that 13 public libraries have been selected to form entrepreneurship centers across the country, focusing on low-income or underrepresented entrepreneurs. 

These libraries will provide virtual and in-person services including workshops such as Business 101, English as a Second Language (ESL), Web Design, Marketing and Accounting. They will also provide one-on-one coaching to small business owners, secure access to specialized equipment and technology, plus help with promotion and marketing assistance, research, and tasks like navigating legal and business licenses and requirements.

The Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina, is a great example of a library that is making a difference with their funding. They’ve built a resource center for underrepresented entrepreneurs by offering peer support, training and resources for people at every stage of business development. They’ve recently opened an online hub which helps entrepreneurs and businesses access the resources they need to stay up and running during the pandemic. Richland’s innovative program, and those of the other grantees, will be used to create a playbook that any library anywhere will be able to use to build out their own small business recovery services.

This effort builds on a long-running partnership with the ALA. In January 2019, we worked with the ALAto bring Grow with Google’s free digital skills workshops to libraries, and this investment helped people develop critical skills they need to find jobs and grow their businesses. During these workshops, we connected with small business owners who were facing a range of challenges. We also worked closely with librarians to train their staff on digital skills and equip them with new tools and resources to drive digital learning in their communities. Using free resources from our Grow with Google Partner Program, one librarian in Kentucky trained her staff as well as other librarians across the state. She’s not alone: Through our Partner Program more than 1,100 local libraries use our free content, handouts and resources to train people in their communities.

From small towns to big cities, almost every community across the country has a place you can go to get free information, internet access and digital skills training: the local library. Thanks to ongoing collaboration with the ALA and community partners across the country, we’re continuing to help local libraries provide critical skills training at a time when people need it most. If you are a small business owner interested in learning more about how to grow your business with help from Google and your local library, watch our virtual workshop, Build Your Online Presence with Google and Your Local Library, co-hosted with the ALA. Or check out our other free virtual workshops, events and one-on-one coaching sessions to get the most out of digital tools.

Indianapolis revs up with Grow with Google

For more than a hundred years, Indiana has been a powerhouse in American manufacturing. Its factories assembled the vehicles that would take the country into a new automotive era in the 20th century. Historic auto companies like Studebaker, Cord and Duesenberg called the state home.

Though Indiana remains a domestic manufacturing hub, the economy continues to evolve. Technology has emerged as a new force, and digital skills have become a baseline in businesses and classrooms. The growth of tech jobs in Indianapolis is the fifth-highest in the country. Despite this, only 48 percent of workers have the required skills to compete in the current job market.

We want to help everyone find new opportunities in the digital economy. That’s why we brought Grow with Google—our new initiative to help Americans gain the skills they need to prepare for work, find jobs, and grow their businesses—to Indianapolis this weekend.

Over the course of two days at the Indiana State Museum, thousands of job seekers, educators, students, and local businesses joined us for more than 20 workshops and 100+ one-on-one coaching sessions, as well as panel discussions that put a spotlight on success stories from the local small business community. We were joined by best-selling author and YouTube creator John Green (an Indy native), and our partners EmployIndy, The Indianapolis Public Library, Ivy Tech Community College, Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, Indy Chamber, TechPoint and Student Veterans of America.

One of the featured success stories on our panel was Janus Motorcycles, founded in 2011 by Devin Biek and Richard Worsham, two friends who shared a vision to build their dream motorcycle. Today, the company sells handmade bikes directly to customers online, using videos to showcase their craftsmanship and digital ads to drive sales. From their small production shop in northern Indiana, they bring together the the best of Midwestern handmade craftsmanship and modern manufacturing. Plus, many of their fabricated parts are made within 20 miles of their production facility.

Janus Motorcycles: Building a dream

Janus’ story is an example of how two individuals with a vision can use technology to create economic opportunities for many more.

We’re excited about the many Hoosiers who came out this past weekend, and look forward to working alongside them to help bring their ideas and dreams to life. Keep an eye out for Grow with Google events in even more cities in the months to come, and you can always access tools, resources and programs at