Navigating the Automation Job Shift as a Small Business

The automation revolution is here, and small business owners have critical decisions to make that will impact their future. As an entrepreneurship consultant, I work with SMB leaders across sectors on strategic planning. My clients have been asking how to brace for the workforce disruption that automation technologies will cause in coming years.

Automation‘s Growing Reach

Automation is already infiltrating more roles through advanced AI and robotic process automation (RPA) tools. According to McKinsey, over 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation in the US alone since 2000. Retail, food service and transportation sectors are also taking major hits.

These job losses barely scratch the surface of automation‘s potential damage. By 2030, up to 375 million jobs around the globe could be fully automated, per analysis from McKinsey & Co. This would require transitional support for many displaced workers at massive scale.

Risks to SMB Workforces

Within my small business consulting practice, around 25% of clients rely heavily on workers at high risk of automation. These include roles like:

  • Bookkeepers
  • Accountants
  • Admin Assistants
  • Cashiers
  • Machine Operators
  • Warehouse Workers

As automation innovations continue outpacing regulatory policies, SMB leaders face tough talent retention and hiring decisions. Proactively identifying automation risks across the business can help stabilize employment pathways for existing staff through redeployment and retraining support.

Job Growth Opportunities

Automation brings opportunities as well as turmoil. Last year over 133 million new jobs emerged across automation sectors like engineering, programming, robotics maintenance, and AI development.

As automated solutions expand, related implementation, analytics, monitoring, data tagging, and adjacent roles will thrive. SMBs quick to reskill and become early tech adopters can get first-mover advantage on the expanded talent pool.

Although automation threatens many traditional jobs, uniquely human skills like strategic decision making, creativity, relationship building, and complex communications can‘t be replicated by machines. I coach my SMB clients on restructuring roles to focus more exclusively on these differentiation strengths.

Final Recommendations

Every business leader should proactively assess automation risk and opportunity across their operations. Staying on top of the latest projections and workforce planning best practices will help SMBs adapt. Contact my team to start developing your automation strategy or visit our site‘s insights page for more workforce planning resources.