Congress: Support Digital Platforms That Support Texas Small Businesses

Support Small Business
Support Small Business | Image by Random Illustrator

When we started our specialty fitness company, we knew digital technology would be important and social media would help us build a community. Thank goodness our plan worked, because COVID-19 slammed so many small businesses that were not already digitally advanced. We powered through the pandemic and we’re ready for the recovery, but we are still cautious about the future, in part because Congress is pushing to rewrite digital economy rules in ways that can really hurt small businesses.

We worked hard starting the company, and I’m sure we had some luck. We developed a premium product, provided 5-star customer service, and for marketing we tried many digital platforms. Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Reddit all helped us connect with online fitness and training communities and build our brand.

Then COVID-19 struck, and like many businesses, it was uncertain and nerve-wracking at first. We thought our business might be crushed, but home fitness got more popular when gyms and health clubs shut down, and that’s when our digital preparation and early investments paid off.

Millions of businesses didn’t survive the last two years, but fortunately, millions more were able to hang on. Many local restaurants and stores quickly invested in digital services and started pickup and delivery options. They were saved by digital platforms that combined all the features in one app and website. Many would not have survived if they had to build an app or website from scratch and independently source payment processing and other features.

That’s why I don’t understand why Congress is attacking big digital platforms. It’s easy to get headlines by kicking Google, Facebook, and Amazon, but it should be obvious that they are really important for small businesses. Research shows 92% of small businesses use digital tools to engage with customers, 87% to grow their customer base, and 84% to sell products and services.

I understand concerns about companies getting too big, as they might corner the market and raise prices indiscriminately with no fear of competition. But the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Sen. Cruz, just voted to regulate digital platforms specifically because they connect thousands of small businesses like ours to millions of potential customers. It’s clear that Sen. Cruz and too many of his colleagues still don’t understand the digital economy.

In nine years our company has grown tremendously. We’ve been ranked in the Inc. 5000 and worked with well-known fitness chains. We’re proud of our accomplishments, but we know that we stand on the shoulders of digital giants that help us reach customers, build community, and even grow stronger during the pandemic.

For our company and millions of small businesses, we hope that Congress will dig a little deeper to understand the benefits that big platforms deliver to small companies. Affordable, easy-to-use digital tools are magical compared to the old ways of doing business. When Congress understands how we operate and succeed then they will recognize that attacks on digital platforms can rebound to hurt us. And if Congress really cares about small business then these bad bills will not become laws – they will end up in the trash heap with other bad ideas.

Chad Price is the founder and COO of Kettlebell Kings in Austin, Texas, and a member of the Connected Commerce Council.

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