As a small business owner, you're always looking for new ways to work smarter – AI could be your answer.
Before we venture further, let's decode the enigma of AI.
At its core, Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that can perform tasks usually requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and decision-making.
AI can also learn from data and experiences, adapting its behaviour without explicit programming.
What this means for you, the small business owner, is that the technology finally exists to do the one thing that was impossible to do for so long:
AI = All the things you’re already good at, but faster
AI can empower you to do things you're already good, but in a fraction of the time. Picture all your abilities and potential, just on a grander scale. It can also make you a marketing expert, an excellent planner, or a financial expert, even if you never had those skills.
The good news is that today, integrating AI into the heart of your business operations doesn't require a huge budget or an army of IT experts.
With a massive variety of user-friendly AI tools available and more launching daily, you can quickly implement this powerful innovation into your business. For example, check out.
Crucial reasons small businesses should embrace AI
AI is becoming essential for companies of all sizes to stay in the game.
The key is identifying how AI can help you reach your strategic goals, whether boosting customer service, informing marketing, or optimizing operations. This tech can become an intelligent "employee" or "assistant" that gives your small business an advantage.
Here are a few real-world examples.
AI for salons
If you run a salon, managing appointments can take a ton of time with all the scheduling, reminders, cancellations, rescheduling… and repeat. But new AI scheduling tools, like Dasha.ai could take all that off your plate, so you and your staff can focus on making clients look and feel amazing. Learn more about Dasha.ai
AI for boutiques
As a small boutique owner, keeping track of inventory is a pain, but essential to your success. Now AI can be your inventory guru, automatically seeing what's selling and what needs restocking so you can focus on those fantastic window displays to tempt shoppers inside.
AI for bookkeeping
AI can be the assistant you always wanted for bookkeeping – digging through tedious data entry, invoices, and reports in no time. Automated data extraction tools like dext.com prevent mistakes and give you more hours to provide personalized service to help your clients succeed. Learn more about dext.com.
Popular AI applications for businesses
When it comes to leveraging AI for your business, there are more options with every passing day. Here are a few of the most popular applications implemented by small businesses.
Natural language processing (NLP) tools like chatbots can readily be integrated into your website to handle common questions and streamline customer service operations. Try a solution that allows you to train the chatbot on your data and deploy it to your site in minutes, like chatbase.co.
Computer vision tools like image recognition and barcode scanners can automate tasks like inventory management. Convert any smartphone into a powerful universal label scanner with a tool like packagex.io.
Intelligent process automation platforms help build software robots to automate repetitive back-office tasks like data entry, invoice processing, and more. Many provide a guided setup, like UiPath.
Customer relationship management
AI-powered customer relationship management (CRM) tools provide predictive lead scoring, personalized recommendations, and sentiment analysis to uncover insights. Try Salesforce Einstein.
Feeling advanced? Explore predictive analytics
For the advanced thinkers in the room, one particular AI application to dig into is "predictive analytics." It sounds fancy, but it's just analyzing data, finding patterns from the past, and forecasting future outcomes based on historical trends.
Essentially, predictive analytics helps businesses define what's to come and how to prepare.
Using predictive analytics for a café business
For example, predictive analytics could pinpoint busy hours for a café by analyzing sales by time of day. This insight allows you to book the right number of staff and have the correct inventory on hand. By studying past sales patterns, you can predict popular menu items for different times of the year. No more guessing what you'll need next week.
Using predictive analytics for a plumbing service
A plumbing company could use predictive analytics to estimate service timelines and parts needed based on previous jobs. With this foresight, you will have the necessary time to purchase supplies and assign crews, enabling faster and higher-quality service.
In summary, predictive analytics provides insights that help you anticipate customer needs by evaluating historical behaviours. You can transform your previously reactive businesses into proactive operations with a competitive advantage.
AI unlocks this powerful capability.
Learn more about managing your business
About the author
Dave Burnett is CEO, author, and speaker at AOK Marketing and founder of Promotional Products .com. A regular columnist with The National Post with over 40 columns on subjects ranging from personal branding to utilizing AI in our quickly changing landscape, he loves simplifying our complex world. He enjoys spending his time helping people growth their businesses. You can connect with him through AOK Marketing.