7 ways small businesses are using AI
Organisations that don't take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) risk falling by the wayside. Here are seven innovative ways companies are using the rapidly evolving technology to supercharge their business.
At a glance
Here's a snapshot of the advice from our interviewees:
- Use AI to clean and refine your mailing list, better understand customer behaviour and highlight your most valuable clients.
- AI models can help businesses to create articles, images and videos, which can help you slash your marketing budget while improving your reach.
- From recording meeting minutes and responding to emails to managing inventories and creating project workflows, AI can automate tasks for businesses.
- AI will evolve rapidly but it's important businesses use it safely and responsibly
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an indispensable tool for small and medium-sized businesses, allowing them to reduce costs, enhance efficiency and outsource menial tasks, which then frees up employees for more complex and creative activities.
Within a span of one year, the technology has transformed from being a customer service chatbot, transcription tool or grammar-checking system into a robust solution that can do pretty much anything.
The good news is that many AI tools are free or inexpensive to use. Here are seven innovative ways small and medium-sized businesses are using AI to power ahead.
1. Clean up your mailing list
Steven Lewis at business coaching consultancy Taleist Agency has used AI to ensure all his clients are on his mailing list, to tag subscribers to better target his marketing and to highlight his highest value customers.
“I used ChatGPT to analyse, change and merge spreadsheets from Xero and shopping list software Thrivecart much faster and more accurately than I could do myself,” he says.
“I’ve now increased my subscriber numbers and I have a clearer picture of my ideal client, which will sharpen my marketing.”
2. Create content
It’s fast becoming the norm to write SEO blog posts, social media copy and e-newsletters with ChatGPT, create images with DALL-E and Instagram reels or TikToks with Canva, or cut and edit video clips with Opus.
Justin Ng at Z Grills Australia, which sells pellet smokers, says his company now uses AI to create marketing photos, which slashes costs usually spent on photoshoots and studio rentals.
“By generating diverse backgrounds and angles, AI has supercharged our campaigns, improving efficiency and performance by over 200 per cent. Now, one person can create an image in hours, which is far more economical than renting a venue and vehicle, and employing manpower for a photoshoot.”
But Steven warns that AI writing models have limitations when it comes to tone of voice and accuracy, and are often better at providing a starting point than a finished product.
“AI is usually really good at providing the building blocks and basic topics, but it can still sound clunky and impersonal, and that turns off readers and engagement suffers.”
AI bots also need detailed instructions, he adds.
“Think of ChatGPT as a new employee and give it the same brief you would give that employee.”
3. Secure your website
Jeremy Piper, founder of subscription business Whybuy, uses AI to rewrite plugin codes and beef up his website security.
“Plugin codes are easily accessible and can be used by hackers to access millions of websites. You can ask ChatGPT to rewrite a plugin code in a unique way, which gives you a one-off plugin that’s much more secure,” he says.
“Rewriting these codes would have taken days in the past, and cost thousands in employee wages.”
4. Automate tasks
Automation is what AI does best. For example, Sticky can record and action meeting minutes, COR can learn user behaviour and monitor time, while Grizzly can compile reports, respond to emails and extract key data from content.
Various other models can manage inventories, arrange schedules and oversee project workflows.
Daniel Evans, founder of recruitment agency Health Recruiters, uses AI to streamline his candidate matching process.
“Our AI algorithms analyse resumes and match candidates with specific skill sets to job requirements, accelerating our recruitment process and ensuring higher-quality matches,” he says.
“By automating this aspect, we have seen a significant reduction in staffing costs and a more focused use of human resources, allowing our team to concentrate on building stronger connections with candidates and clients.”
5. Improve social media engagement
Jason Tan runs a boutique data and AI consultancy DDA Labs and uses AI to stay in touch with his clients.
“I rely on Engage AI to make insightful comments when my clients or potential clients post on LinkedIn. It saves me and my staff time and money while making better-quality comments that could break the ice to start a conversation.”
6. Train and help others
Coachvox creates an AI version of yourself, which can be used to train new employees and assist customers.
Lifestyle coach Lauren “Loz” Antoneko, owner of Loz Life, is even using it to coach her clients.
“I’ve uploaded all my written content, so now my bot can offer a library of knowledge to my clients. It allows me to have a greater impact on more people.”
7. Powering into the future
AI can unravel valuable insights from data, which enables small and medium-sized businesses to understand their customers and their preferences like never before.
As the technology continues to improve, we will see companies using it increasingly to predict customer behaviour, personalise their marketing and elevate customer experience. This could lead to better client retention and improved profitability.
Nevertheless, experts underline the importance of using AI ethically, training employees on how to use it confidently and responsibly, and ensuring data protection.
Daniel advises fellow small business owners entering the realm of AI to start small.
“Identify tasks that can be automated to free up human resources and begin with minor, manageable AI implementations to gauge effectiveness before scaling up,” he says.
“Collaborate with AI experts and stay open to learning and adapting as technology evolves. It’s about finding the right balance between automation and the human touch that defines your business.”
Growing your business? Talk with a Prospa specialist about how a Prospa Business Line of Credit could help.
6 ways to stop your business from losing money
No one goes into business to lose money. Check out these six tips to help improve profitability.
Infographic: How businesses are funding growth
Amid a high interest rate environment, stress levels are increasing for small business owners – and many are considering loans to fund growth.