I come from a family of small business owners. My grandparents owned a general store in Michigan, and in 1957 my parents followed suit and opened Robert L. Coe Plumbing and Heating in the town of Walled Lake. As the business grew, its success made it possible for my five siblings and me to go to college.
Of course, my family and I aren't the only ones with good reason to be grateful for family businesses and small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are nearly 30 million small businesses in the U.S., employing almost half of the private sector workforce. At Google, I lead a team that helps these businesses all over the world get online, reach customers and grow.
Google's digital tools help businesses tap into the potential of the web and reach customers at the very moment they’re looking to discover a product, learn about a new service or buy something. Every month, these search and advertising tools help drive 100 billion visits to business websites globally and create more than 3 billion direct connections like phone calls, online reservations and store visits between businesses and their customers.
Those connections have a huge impact on our economy. In 2017, Google’s search and advertising tools helped generate $283 billion in economic activity for American businesses, website publishers and nonprofits. Our annual Economic Impact Report, released today, features stories of businesses that are fueling that growth, creating job opportunities and transforming their communities—like Carousel Designs, a family-owned nursery design company in Georgia that was able to revitalize its business through online ads and grow from four employees to 70 employees.
For any small business, success hinges on the ability to reach and connect with customers. For my parents, this meant advertising on matchbooks, on company trucks and in the Yellow Pages (which we used to flip through to see how my family’s ad appeared). For today’s small businesses it usually starts with a website and online ads.
However, only 51 percent of businesses in the U.S. have a website. Outside of the U.S., that figure is even lower; 29 percent in Brazil, 26 percent in Mexico and 26 percent in Argentina. The reality is that without using the web to find and connect with customers, small business owners are missing out on a big opportunity.
That’s why our initiatives are built to help even the smallest businesses take steps toward benefiting from being online. For starters, the Google My Business platform is a free and easy way for businesses to show up in Google Search and Google Maps and even quickly create a website. More than 3 million small business owners around the globe have already used the website builder tool and taken fundamental steps toward connecting with their customers. But we don’t stop there—because as a business evolves, so does the need to maintain or grow its presence through advertising online. We work to provide tools, like AdWords Express, that make advertising online a little bit easier and a little bit more accessible for people.
Small business owners have a special dedication and passion for what they do, as well as a deep understanding for the economics of their business. We’ve seen what small business owners can accomplish when they combine those strengths with the power of digital tools. That’s why we're more committed than ever to helping small businesses succeed. Because when they do, it creates a positive ripple effect that helps all of us—whether that’s creating more jobs in our communities or helping a child (or a whole generation of them!) go to college and pursue their dreams.