How to Use AI in Your Small Business: Applications, Myths, and Adoption Tips
AI is here, and as we’ve discussed in our other blog articles – it’s
here to stay. Whilst the use cases for AI are still in development,
and many are still learning how to balance its use alongside real
human interaction, there are already some clear benefits for
startups. Think about things like task automation, data-driven
decision making and improved customer experiences. They’re all
aspects of business that can make a huge difference and help
startups to gain a competitive edge. As we move forward,
understanding how to harness the power of AI could be a real game-changer.
What is AI?
You’ve no doubt heard of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but do you actually know what it is? In simple terms, AI is the simulation of human intelligence by machines. Basically, computers are programmed to think and learn like us. However, in real terms, that can encompass a huge range of technologies and applications, including machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), predictive analysis and more.
One of the greatest benefits of AI is that it learns consumer behaviours over time, and modern machine learning can even tailor sales pitches, marketing collateral, and chats to suit a customer’s specific needs. This, in turn, allows small businesses to save costs on marketing and sales expenses and allows the people within these fields to focus more on acquisition, humanising the customer experience, and finding more efficient ways to reach more customers – rather than being bogged down with menial and cumbersome tasks.
3 Common Myths Surrounding AI
Myth 1: AI is Only for Large Corporations with Extensive Resources.
Reality: while large corporations may have the capacity to invest heavily in AI research and development, small businesses can also benefit from AI solutions. There are AI tools and platforms available at different price points, and cloud-based services make AI more accessible and affordable.
Myth 2: AI will Replace Human Workers, Leading to Job Losses.
Reality: AI wasn’t created to replace humans; instead, its purpose is to augment human capabilities and improve efficiency and productivity. While AI may automate certain tasks, it also creates new opportunities for employees to focus on higher-value work that requires creativity and critical thinking.
Practical Applications of AI in Small Businesses
Myth 3: Implementing AI is Complicated and Requires Specialized Technical Expertise.
Reality: While AI technology can be complex, many solutions come with intuitive interfaces and require minimal coding knowledge. Additionally, online resources, tutorials, and training programs are available to help small business owners and their teams develop the necessary AI skills.
How to Adopt AI in Your Small Business
To leverage the power of AI in your small business, start by considering tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming, or data- intensive. This could include customer support, data analysis, inventory management, marketing campaigns, or predictive analytics. You’ll then want to research available AI solutions on the market. You should focus on AI platforms, tools, and software that are specifically designed for small businesses or offer scalable options. Consider factors such as ease of use, integration capabilities, customer support, and cost.
Other than that, it’s a case of starting small and scaling gradually. You could choose a specific project or use case to pilot AI technology and test its effectiveness, perhaps. Starting small also helps manage the learning curve and reduces the risk associated with a full-scale deployment.
Due to the recent explosion of AI onto the mainstream consumer scene in 2022 with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and other such machine learning algorithms, the stigmas of non-human resourcing are changing towards a more adaptive perception in the eyes of the public, and this is especially true of millennials and Gen Z consumers. Given that many small businesses and startups have been established by these two generations, it’s also safe to assume that using AI in the sales and marketing functions (at least in the early days of a business) is not frowned upon, but rather – rarely detected, and often highly effective.
Ultimately, harnessing the capabilities of modern AI to gain a competitive advantage in the early stages of a business can lead to greater ROI and foster accelerated innovation.