Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Businesses leaders confirmed one fact about our shared new normal at the first of three Google virtual Small Business Matters Roundtable events on Thursday, Sept. 14: COVID-19 has made it essential for small businesses to digitize their operations once and for all.

Why it’s important: 93% of U.S. small businesses to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) felt an immediate downturn in customer demand, hours of operation and employee headcounts, a newly published Connected Commerce Council (3C) report in partnership with Google found.

The result: Many turned to the digital safety net.

  • 85% rethought their digital strategy to help recover, the report found.

According to Jake Ward, President of 3C, taking on digital tools is a win-win strategy for small businesses.

“What we found was that there was a digital safety net,” he said at the Google event, “that the more small businesses use digital tools, the more likely they were to be able to survive the early days of the pandemic and to build a sort of resilience into their business model.”

  • Essentially, Ward argues, digital tools – including videoconferencing, digital payments and productivity software – act as a “silver bullet” for millions of American SMBs.

The challenge: Although COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of countless businesses in just 6 months, many SMBs face 2 critical problems with access, said Ward:

  • Difficulty accessing the digital tools capable of boosting their business.
  • Or, a lack of understanding in how to make the most of the digital tools available to them.

Despite this barrier, small businesses owned by people of color are more likely to leverage digital tools to make up for a lack of access to capital.

  • In fact, Black-, Latino- and Asian-owned businesses all fall into the Digital Driver category, or businesses that are the most digitally savvy (at 46%, 41%, and 38%, respectively).

Key numbers: But, these businesses were also roughly half as likely as white-run businesses to receive aid through public loans.

The details: At the roundtable, one California-based business owner said that Black-owned businesses shuttered their doors at double the rate of white-owned businesses.

Together, the small business experts came up with a number of solutions to these obstacles to SMBs, including:

  • Education that brings small businesses up to speed with new digital tools, trends and online opportunities.
  • Technical assistance, where larger firms and nonprofits guide small businesses through big changes, such as digital transformation.
  • More time and capital, 2 critical resources one West Coast business owner said was sorely lacking for the hardest-hit businesses.

One roundtable expert explained: Many under-resourced businesses lack the time – and money – to implement new technologies and strategies, especially in these precarious times. For them, it’s between survival or investing in themselves.

Next steps: Increase access to capital and digital education.

  • Free resources, like the Grow with Google program, are vital. “Our program,” said Mistique Cano, Director of Policy & Public Affairs at Google, “has helped train over 5 million Americans, many of them small businesses, on digital skills to help them grow.”
  • Meanwhile, grants would allow entrepreneurs to level up their business while covering their expenses.

The takeaway: The pandemic’s impact on small businesses was swift – and devastating. But with the right digital tools and time-saving technical assistance, they can survive – and thrive. Learn more.

Go deeper

Key company sales gauge recovers to pre-pandemic level

Manufacturing plant in New York last year. Photo: Noam Galai via Getty Images

A key sales gauge has recovered past its pre-pandemic level, according to a new quarterly survey of business conditions by the National Association for Business Economics.

Why it matters: It’s another sign of businesses bouncing back from the depths of the pandemic recession, even with soaring coronavirus cases and a full economic recovery still far off.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

🚨: China wins 1st gold of Tokyo Olympics

📺: The Olympic events to watch today

🎾: Athlete spotlight - Naomi Osaka looks to snag gold on home soil

👻: How the no-spectator Olympics could affect the athletes

🇺🇸: "What an honor it is to watch you soar," first lady tells U.S. Olympians

🥇: The six new sports at Tokyo 2020

💉 About 100 U.S. Olympic athletes are unvaccinated

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

1 hour ago - Sports

China wins 1st gold of Tokyo Olympics

Silver medalist Anastasiia Galashina of Russia, gold medalist Yang Qian of China and bronze medalist Nina Christen of Switzerland celebrate on the podium after the 10m air rifle women's final. Photo:

China's Yang Qian won the first gold of the Tokyo Olympics, narrowly beating Anastasiia Galashina of the Russian Olympic Committee in the women's 10-meter air rifle final.

Why it matters: The first medal ceremony of the Games took on extra meaning after a year-long delay and other hurdles brought on by the pandemic. Athletes are required to hang medals around their own necks in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.