Ten ways that AI can help your small business

Female business owner using AI (artificial intelligence) tools on smartphone

AI is transforming the way we do business. Here are ten AI tools that could help your small business become more productive and more profitable

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a broad term for computer processes that are capable of performing complex tasks that usually require human intelligence. AI is integral to many business apps and online tools, allowing users to easily create content, analyse data and make quick work of repetitive tasks.

Not surprisingly, this technology is already helping businesses of all sizes to improve their performance. AI can cut the time spent on everyday tasks; it can create bespoke copy, images, videos and layouts; it can process data quickly to improve business decision-making and it can transform the customer experience. In short, AI is game-changing and, although there are concerns about its misuse, it’s here to stay.

Who is using AI and how are they using it?

A 2023 survey of 1,000 UK office workers by InstantPrint has found that:

  • 89% of Brits say they already use AI in their work.
  • Of those, 71% are between 18 and 34 years’ old.
  • 24% said AI saves them money.
  • 21% said AI saves them time.

The findings show that workers are using AI tools for:

  • Planning (25%)
  • Writing copy (25%)
  • Transcribing (19%)
  • Virtual assistant (17%)
  • Research (17%)
  • Image generation (15%)
  • Personalised shopping (13%)
  • Administrative tasks (13%)
  • Learning (12%)
  • Navigation (11%)

Ten ways to use AI in your small business

1. Written content

There are a host of AI tools for creating written content. Here are just a few of them:

  • ChatGPT is one of the most popular. It can create bespoke content tailored to your business needs and matching your tone of voice. Other AI-powered writing assistants include Google Bard, copy.ai and Jasper.ai.
  • Happy Scribe automatically generates transcripts when you upload an audio or video file.
  • Otter.ai is another AI transcription tool that converts video and audio (such as podcasts) into text. It is also a note-taker - you can set it up to record online meetings and it will transcribe the talking points and send you an email of the key takeaways.
  • Grammarly is a widely-used writing assistant that ensures your written content is free from spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. The AI-powered GrammarlyGO allows you to brainstorm ideas and generate drafts in seconds, customised to your tone of voice. Grammarly also has a built-in plagiarism detector.
  • HubSpot's AI-powered content management software can help you create, manage and distribute content that is personalised to your audience.

2. Videos

Creating video for social media or your website has got easier and quicker thanks to AI tools such as Lumen5. Lumen5 lets you create videos from scratch (or re-purpose written content into videos). You can create short-form videos with special effects including zoom, captions, sound effects and descriptions with Submagic. Similarly, Pictory allows you to use any content to create a video in minutes. Another useful AI tool is Murf, a text-to-speech tool that allows you to create professional voiceovers for your content using 100% natural-sounding AI voices.

3. Artwork

Finding images and artwork for your website and social media activity can be time-consuming and also costly. An AI tool like DALL·E 2 can generate unique and high-quality images in seconds based on a text prompt. Every text prompt provides four image variations to choose from. Other useful tools include Adobe Firefly and Canva, which has an AI-powered Magic Design feature that help users create visuals at the click of a button.

4. Presentations

An AI tool like Tome allows you to turn a document into a slide presentation at the click of a button. It can design individual slides with text and images as well as creating complete presentations. Similarily, Gamma uses AI to create presentations, pitches, documents and web pages.

5. Recruitment

AI can help you find the best person for the job and save you time and money, especially when you’re faced with a large number of applications. AI tools can help you scan CVs quickly, search for key skills and qualifications and even decide how well candidates align with your company's values. Skillate, for example, offers AI-powered solutions for every aspect of the recruitment process, from writing job descriptions and assessing CVs to scheduling interviews.

6. Market research

Many of us are already using tools such as ChatGPT or Google Bard to create content but have you considered using them to find things out? These popular AI tools are a great market research tool, allowing you to ask specific questions and get detailed information about your business sector, your competitors and your customer base.

7. Customer service

Chatbots are used by businesses to provide 24/7 support, improving the online experience for customers. They can be programmed to answer routine queries and direct customers to specific web pages. For small firms, they can provide an advanced level of customer service that was previously only offered by corporates. One of the most popular chatbots is ChatBot, an automated tool that talks to your customers online, answers their questions and guides them through the buying journey. ChatSpot from HubSpot is a conversational chatbot that connects with HubSpot's CRM allowing sales and marketing teams to get more done in less time. SecondBrain (previously MagicChat.ai) is another AI platform that lets you create bots with specialised knowledge about your business to provide real-time online support to customers.

8. Social media

Many of the most popular social media apps have AI functionality. Buffer, for example, is an app that enables businesses to schedule and publish posts to multiple social media platforms from one dashboard. It features an AI assistant that can help generate new posts for social channels, repurpose existing posts and brainstorm ideas. Hootsuite also has AI tools to help generate social media content.

9. Project management

Keeping on top of your to-do list can be a lot easier with AI. A tool like TimeHero, for instance, can help you track and manage all your tasks, automatically planning when’s the best time to work on specific tasks. The project management software ClickUp also offers a range of AI-powered features including an AI writing assistant.

10. Ecommerce

AI is transforming the world of ecommerce. It can help you understand customer behaviour, improve the shopping experience and provide personalised recommendations to help you upsell and cross-sell. Many website builders, including GoDaddy and Wix, use AI to automatically create websites. The popular ecommerce tool Shopify also uses AI-powered text generation to write website copy, such as product descriptions.

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