What AI can do for your small business

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This piece was specially written for the Tony Robbins blog by technology entrepreneur and artificial intelligence expert, Ben Lamm.

The idea that you need to have a big company to use sophisticated technology is understandable as a belief, but it’s also wrong. While a lot of people think that great, transformative technology is expensive and unrealistic as a business owner, this simply isn’t the case.

Artificial intelligence is a great example. For a small business owner, AI often seems like a pipedream. Of course, the capabilities of the technology would benefit any founder – automation, intelligence and support are all things that new businesses need in spades. However, AI’s historic reputation as tech that belongs to multi-million corporations keeps new entrepreneurs from seriously considering any implementation of the technology.

Fortunately, with a new wave of app development and ingenious use cases, AI is coming out of the enterprise and finally becoming accessible to small businesses.

How AI Can Help You

The barriers that used to restrict AI implementations to big companies with million dollar budgets are slowly crumbling. Now, AI is being brought into SMBs and enabling business owners to accomplish more with less.

Part of this shift is due to the fact that AI is becoming more affordable. As more and more of the technology becomes open-sourced or refined, the true cost of AI is decreasing. At the same time, the use cases for the technology are growing and becoming more aligned with the news of a new business. Together, these changes are making AI not just feasible for small business owners, but also valuable.

While AI in the past was focused on the automation of huge systems, gleaning insights from massive amounts of data and putting those observations to work, innovators in AI today are interested in new kinds of problems. AI is becoming more personable and supportive, and this shifting role is changing it into the perfect tool for small business owners who frequently suffer from a shortage of resources and manpower.

AI mitigates these stressors, speeding up or simplifying work that used to be an unnecessary drain on a founder. Take a company like Grammarly. Using AI and natural language processing to understand any and all text (from the emails you send to the detailed invoices you may need to write), Grammarly catches embarrassing grammar faux pas and typos. It allows the entrepreneur to focus on the execution instead of the smaller, burdensome tasks. One commercial of theirs even directly targets small business owners, telling the story of a woman who lands an investor meeting thanks to the software. The underlying message is that AI empowers you to focus on what’s important.

While Grammarly is a good example of the benefits of AI to the small business owner, it’s far from the only one. Some tools allow you to build a better website. Others help you streamline your Google analytics reporting. The takeaway is clear: almost every small business pain point now has a corresponding solution powered by AI. This new wave of AI tools allows you to think of the technology in the same way that you previously might have thought of a first employee: filling random, urgent needs. Only now that support is free.

The Future of Work for Small Businesses

Imagining AI as a real member of your team may still feel hyperbolic, but in less than five years, AI will be so common among SMBs that developing an AI strategy will be considered a necessary IT step. On par with having a website or an invoicing system, having a solid AI strategy will become essential for a small business founder. Those that are caught without will be already behind.

That’s why it’s important to start to think about how AI can assist you now. Itemize your greatest needs or biggest time drains and see if there’s an intelligent solution to assist you. Starting to experiment with AI now will prepare you for a future where the technology is expected – and in the meantime, it’ll help you build a stronger business.

About Ben Lamm

Ben Lamm is a serial technology entrepreneur dedicated to making the impossible possible. He builds intelligent, disruptive software companies that help the Fortune 500 innovate with breakthrough technologies. Ben is the co-founder, Executive Chairman, and CEO of Hypergiant, the office of machine intelligence. Previously, he was the co-founder and CEO of Conversable, the leading conversational intelligence platform, the founder and CEO of Chaotic Moon Studios, the global creative technology powerhouse acquired by Accenture and Team Chaos, acquired by Zynga.

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