How AI Can Help Save Small Businesses Money

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Regardless of the type of small business that you operate, artificial intelligence may be able to help you save both time and money. Rather than the world-ending, out-of-control technology portrayed in various movies and TV shows, artificial intelligence is really just a way that humanity can program machines to make life easier and more efficient.

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This is particularly true in the case of small businesses, which often run on lean budgets, thin margins and immense time pressure. If you’ve feared using AI in the past — or are simply unfamiliar with it — take a look at the many ways that AI can help save your small business some money.

Sales and Marketing

One of the main strengths of artificial intelligence is to gather relevant data and tailor it to the needs of a business. For example, AI can analyze traits of ideal customers and develop sales and marketing materials that are optimized for this type of clientele. Not only can efficient marketing materials drum up sales, it also can take the burden of design and presentation away from rank-and-file employees, who can instead use their time to focus activities that contribute to revenue generation for the company.

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Customer Research

Understanding how and why your customers buy your product or service is a great way to efficiently increase your revenue as a small business. But it can be hard to get a handle on this multitude of variables alone. As one of AI’s best skills is number crunching, it can be the very tool that small businesses need to analyze and interpret just how customers act.

It’s possible that AI could come up with the answers to generate additional sales for your business, whether it’s through adjusting your price points, improving the quality of your products or opening a location in a specific area.

Task Execution

Artificial intelligence can help with task execution in two ways. First, it can assemble data into easy-to-manage lists for personnel to handle. More advanced AI may be able to actually execute some or all of these tasks. Any type of efficiency measures like these by definition save money, as work gets completed by AI or assembled to make things easier for employees.

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Risk Analysis

An excellent use of artificial intelligence for small businesses comes in the area of risk analysis and management. AI can be used to identify any areas that a business might be operating out of bounds, reducing the risk of fines or even more significant penalties. It can also review or even create legal documents.

Software Tracking

Artificial intelligence isn’t always some fancy machine that seems to have a mind of its own. In fact, artificial intelligence plays a behind-the-scenes role in American life in numerous ways. When it comes to business, even “simple” software programs utilize AI to help accomplish tasks more efficiently.

For example, QuickBooks, the popular accounting program, has incorporated AI to power much of its functionality, from cash flow planning to receipt scanning to mileage tracking and more.

Other software programs can help small businesses do everything from saving money on electricity to optimizing work schedules.

Trend Mapping

Proper analysis of customer and market trends can mean the difference between profits and losses for small businesses. AI can effectively pore through the reams of data needed to successfully identify trends and weed out those that are irrelevant, and it can accomplish these tasks all much faster and more accurately than humans can.

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Companies that wish to perform their own analyses can have AI crunch all the numbers and produce reports for additional review by personnel. 

The Bottom Line

In the small business world, AI is something to be embraced, not feared. By letting AI handle tasks at which it may be quicker or more efficient than a human employee, you should be able to boost your profits. But you also should be aware of the limitations of AI.

Although AI gets a lot of press, at the end of the day, it’s essentially a type of computing system; and, as the age-old expression goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” If you set up your AI with the wrong parameters, it might give you data that’s actually not in the best interest of your company. This is why there always needs to be a human component attached to AI analysis and implementation.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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