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Falling trust in tech and small business owners unease tell a tale

Two troubling signs.

First, Edelman’s annual 2022 Trust Barometer shows a continued decline in tech company trust in the US and Canada.   Here are the numbers, quoting Axios:

  • Globally, the tech industry remains the most trusted sector of business, earning the trust of 74% of those served, ahead of health care and education. By contrast, social media is the lowest-ranked sector, trusted by only 44% of respondents. 
  • However, only 54% of Americans trust tech companies to do the right thing, down three percentage points from last year and a whopping 19 points since 2019. 
  • In the U.S., the decline in trust was seen across a number of the most talked-about sectors, including 5G, artificial intelligence, “internet of things,” and virtual reality.
  • Those with higher incomes tended to trust tech more than those in lower-income brackets. However, the gap narrowed last year, with trust improving among lower-income Americans and falling among the wealthy.

Second, in NEXT’s small business survey, troubling signs of small business owners uneasy.    Here, quoting ZDNet:

Many small business owners say they’re forced to raise prices, work longer hours, and pay more for labor. Nearly 40% of the more than 1,000 small business owners surveyed said they’re feeling “frustrated” or “stressed” by the state of America’s workforce. Those small businesses are feeling that stress and frustration tend to be very small, employing between one and 20 employees.

But the results of the survey also indicate a certain resilience among small business owners. Businesses with 20 or more employees say they’re feeling significantly more optimistic (43%) than companies with nine employees or less (22%).

Overall, the survey paints a rather pessimistic outlook for small businesses in the near future. While less than one-third of small business respondents — 29% — said they feel optimistic about an economic recovery in the next 12 months, 35% said they were considering shutting down their business, with 8% of those saying they’ve “thought about it a lot.”

The survey focused on four key findings:

  • Small business owners are burning out.
  • Small businesses are paying more for labor today, with the smallest businesses seeing the greatest percentage increase in wages
  • Inflation and supply chain delays are having the greatest impact on small businesses.


  • Tax season poses stress for some small business owners. 

One more dimension to note – is geography.     Businesses in rural areas reported less worker satisfaction than those in more populated or urban areas. Rural business owners interviewed say workers in their industry are more uncertain, less appreciated, less motivated, less flexible, and less content than those in urban settings. 

Why do we care?

Trust in tech companies is going down, and small businesses are under intense pressure.      I want to be realistic about the market conditions.  My advice – get close to your customers if you’ve let any space come between you.      Much like entering the pandemic, track them, their industries, and how your customers’ customers are doing.    

Don’t squander trust because despite what many will have you believe, the industry is doing small companies no favors. 

Left out of this is that companies are created in down times too, and those companies tend to be stronger.  That’s something to consider.     Consider the new companies entering the market, and ensure you’re seeking them out.     They’ll be more resilient in the long term too.