How Can Small Businesses Leverage AI?

David Horvath's Picture

David Horvath


Having interacted with numerous small business owners, a common sentiment emerged: many are intrigued by the potential of AI but aren't quite sure where to begin in incorporating it into their operations. This article is a response to those queries, aiming to shed light on how businesses can embrace AI effectively.

If you're an entrepreneur, you might be wondering: "How can I use AI in my business? If I don't, will I fall behind my competitors?"

In this article, I'll address these questions and offer some guidance on integrating AI into your business.

Finding Your Way with AI

The first step in the AI journey? Research. Understand what's out there and how it can benefit your business.

When we think of AI, giants like OpenAI, DeepMind, or IBM often come to mind. These major players have vast resources for pioneering AI technologies. But, for most small business owners, the goal isn't to innovate in AI, but to use what's proven, stable, and can provide clear return on investment.

So, instead of aiming for the cutting-edge, consider exploring existing solutions. These "pre-trained" AI models are designed for easy integration. While they might require some AI expertise to tailor to your unique needs, with the right data, they can be further refined to benefit your business specifically. This approach lets you capitalize on AI without starting from scratch.

Getting Started with AI: A Three-Step Guide

  1. Industry Insights: First, understand the state of your industry. What AI solutions are others using?
  2. Identify Opportunities: Examine your business processes (you probably already have!). Which of these can be enhanced or automated with AI?
  3. Data Mastery: It's essential to know what data your business generates. Sometimes, you'll find you're not capturing all the necessary information. Identifying these gaps early on ensures you can start collecting the right data to support AI integration.

The third step is particularly important. While you may not be capturing all the required data now, it might be easily obtainable with some adjustments. Once you begin considering AI, you'll have a clearer idea of the data you're missing, enabling you to start collecting it.

I recommend beginning with baby steps. Build a foundational understanding of AI. Without grounding your expectations in reality, it's challenging to manage the AI integration process, and there's a risk of lagging behind your competitors.

Remember, at its core, AI can streamline and improve essential business operations. As we've evolved from using tools like fire and hammers, AI is just the next step in our toolkit. The challenge is deciding which AI "tool" is right for your business, balancing the investment against expected returns.

Though I penned this article, I employed AI tools, such as Grammarly and ChatGPT, to enhance its quality.