Five ways AI can take your small business to the next level

Tom Hewitson, Chief AI Officer at leading AI training company General Purpose, offers tips for small businesses

For many small businesses, artificial intelligence (AI) is already an important part of the way they work. A 2023 survey by the Small Business Council found that three-quarters of small businesses reported that AI tools were helping them to focus on more high-value tasks resulting in an estimated savings of almost $275 billion a year. 

However, our own experience at General Purpose, an AI training company that helps business to make the most of AI tools, suggests that even when businesses are using AI, they may not be using it to its full potential. Our AI Essentials training workshop attendees report that once they’ve learned how to use these tools properly it saves them on average an additional hour a day.

A big part of this struggle to adopt AI is that with so many possibilities, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. Here are five ways that small businesses can start using AI quickly so that you can start creating meaningful efficiencies: 

1. Enhance your content creation

A small business’s online visibility hinges on consistent and engaging content, but creating it can stretch small teams thin. AI-powered platforms such as Jasper and Writesonic let small businesses quickly produce a variety of content, from blog posts to marketing materials, with just a few initial prompts. 

Not only can AI help you create content but it can help make sure it gets seen. ChatGPT can help suggest titles for an article that are more likely to go viral and is great for coming up with lists of SEO keywords that you might want to target for your business that you can then plug into other tools to get estimated traffic numbers.

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2. Gain insights into market dynamics

For any business, a deep understanding of market dynamics is key to staying competitive. However, most small businesses don’t have an army of MBAs on hand to crunch the numbers and come up with a strategy. Luckily, many AI assistants are trained on various business strategies, so they can do a lot of the heavy lifting.

For a different perspective, why not try Claude, the leading competitor to ChatGPT. Recent benchmarks suggest it may even be smarter than its more famous cousin — at least when it comes to the pro version. Simply tell it that you want some business advice and get it to ask you questions about the business and market until it’s ready to form some insights. Top tip: it’s also surprisingly good at coming up with pricing models for products and services when using this technique.

3. Improve customer communication

AI might not replace all human customer interactions in your business, but it can significantly improve the quality of communication. Applications such as Grammarly and Hemingway can enhance the clarity and professionalism of your written communications. Meanwhile, ChatGPT can be used to develop comprehensive support materials and FAQs that you can post on your website to reduce customer service requests.

Many of the leading customer service platforms including Intercom and Zendesk also now have AI chatbots that can answer customer queries using information in a knowledge base that you upload. While you’re likely to want to keep the most important conversations to your team, outsourcing the repetitive questions to AI could be a significant timesaver. 

4. Tailor marketing to each customer

Once exclusive to large firms with sophisticated marketing operations, creating personalized marketing for each customer is becoming a reality for small businesses thanks to AI. Platforms like HubSpot and Mailchimp have introduced Generative AI tools that tailor marketing messages to customers based on their data to help increase open rates, conversions, and retention.

While AI can create personalized messages in a matter of seconds, this is only an option if you have the data available and in the right format. The good news is that there are AI database tools such as Airtable that can help you get your messy data straightened out and ready for your industry-conquering marketing campaigns.

5. Streamline administrative processes

For small businesses, admin is always a drag. Luckily, AI offers an escape. For instance, accounting tools such as QuickBooks and Xero use AI to automate several of the most mundane bookkeeping tasks such as creating invoices and producing reports.

If you’re the kind of person who has a lot of meetings, AI calendar tools such as Motion can help manage your schedule to make it more efficient by blocking out time for tasks and grouping meetings so you have time for deep work. And if you have clients that just won’t use a calendly link,you can now have an AI assistant email them to arrange a meeting time courtesy of Clara

By using AI to automate your day-to-day tasks, you can dedicate more time to strategic planning and innovative thinking that grows your business. You don’t need extensive technical knowledge to take advantage of AI; just a willingness to explore and integrate these technologies into your existing operations.

If you’d like to learn more about how AI can help your team and business be more productive, please join one of our AI Essentials or AI for Creatives classes. We’d love to hear what you’re up to and help you get started.

Tom Hewitson is the Chief AI Officer of General Purpose – an AI training company headquartered in London, UK and working worldwide.

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