Business owners should consider AI for SMBs because running a business requires a ton of effort and time to grow. When you wear many hats — marketing, accounting, customer service, data analytics, inventory management, cyber security — you have to automate where you can.
AI is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Those who adopt it early will see the most success.
Think of it like riding a wave. You can't surf a wave after it's already passed you by. You need to allow its momentum to be your small business's momentum.
AI has the power to transform your company. It can analyze customer data and trends and provide valuable insights into ways to create more value for the customer.
Think AI is just for huge corporations? Many of the tools available out there are easy to use and can turbocharge your SMB.
The best artificial intelligence tools allow you to:
- Automate manual tasks.
- Optimize workflows.
- Drive growth.
- Make data-driven decisions.
- Support your teams more effectively.
- Stay agile and adaptable to the world around you.
In this article, we'll discuss the eight best AI tools for small business owners and how they can help your company grow.
AI Tools to Transform Your Business
AI for SMBs doesn't have to be complicated. Small business owners have a lot on their plates, and when they choose the right tools for their needs, everything gets better.
According to Gartner, an SMB is often defined by two attributes:
- Number of employees
- Annual revenue
Let's first look at the best AI tools for SMBs, and then we'll share how to pick and choose the best ones for your business objectives.
The 8 Top AI Tools for a Small Business
First things first: the tools. Perhaps you're a small business owner reading this, and you need help now. AI can be that for you.
So, let's explore the types of tools you might need to implement and some of the products available within those categories.
1. Workflow Automation
Automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks is a quick way to:
- Free up time
- Minimize errors
- Increase productivity
- Streamline communication and collaboration
- Improve transparency
One powerful workflow automation tool many fast-growing SMBs use is Workday.
Workday automation allows organizations to:
- Streamline operations and decision-making.
- Automate unnecessary workflow tasks.
- Improve collaboration across teams.
- Achieve business objectives more efficiently.
HR, payroll, analytics, forecasting — whatever you need as an SMB, Workday can likely handle most or all of it.
2. Customer Service Support
All SMBs have customers, whether B2B or B2C or any other type of consumer. Businesses sell goods and services and Cloud storage and everything else.
And when you have customers, you have to have some kind of customer support. Even a product-led company that doesn't have a lot of interaction with customers still needs some form of customer service — even if that's a chatbot or pre-recorded how-to video.
There are plenty of great companies with customer service AI, including:
Tools like AWS' chatbot allow you to reduce wait times, improve the customer experience, and scale your business.
Some of the benefits of an AI customer service tool are:
- More efficient customer handling
- Proactive support
- Real-time data to help improve processes or pinpoint trends
- Happier customers
AI is already making waves in the customer service space, and implementing AI into your SMB can give you a competitive advantage.
3. Marketing Campaigns
Marketing AI is likely where small business owners get the most excited.
Because it takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with marketing campaigns — posting on social media, attending events, writing copy, designing graphics, scheduling, responding, etc.
It's too much when you're also trying to operate your business.
There are many, many categories within marketing AI. Some of the most popular include:
You'll likely see some overlap in who offers these AI tools for small businesses.
Companies like Hubspot and Salesforce create multiple product offerings to make it as easy as possible for you to get up and go without needing a million different tools.
4. Financial Management
Managing finances is a big deal for a small business, especially during tougher economic times. Being able to manage your finances efficiently is essential.
In a survey done by Capterra, they found that 80% of SMB participants experienced a positive ROI when implementing AI into their financial operations.
Some of the benefits of managing your SMBs finances with AI include:
- Automating routine tasks like invoicing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, report generating, etc
- Improve forecasting and decision-making
- Detect fraud
- Improve customer and employee experiences
If you're looking to automate financial operations with your small business, you can look to companies like:
Workday shared some of the new AI features being developed at this year's Workday Rising conference, including in their Financial Management suite. By automating your finances, you optimize your company and reduce risk and time-consuming tasks.
5. People Management
People management is another time-consuming place for small businesses. You only have so much time in a day, and it takes time to find, hire, and onboard good talent — or any talent, for that matter.
So, you can use AI to your advantage to speed up the HR aspect of running a business.
AI can help you set parameters for what kind of people you're looking for. It can help you write job descriptions, email candidates, share and sign documents, onboard, and so much more.
People management is just a whole lot easier with the support of AI.
A major player in people management is also Workday.
As a small business owner, you may or may not be thinking about cybersecurity. Some SMBs are completely online, while others don't even have a website.
Regardless, cybersecurity is important, and it can be expensive and confusing.
Why should your small business consider using AI for cybersecurity?
- AI can handle a lot of data, and it can learn over time.
- It can monitor, identify, and deal with threats
- AI assesses vulnerabilities.
- It's scalable.
There's only one of you, but AI can sit and watch for unknown threats and authenticate users all day long without batting an eye.
AWS' security solutions are perfect small to medium sized businesses. This Cloud solution adapts to your needs, automates manual security tasks, and keeps your company secure.
7. Project Management
A lot can fall under project management. Maybe you deal mostly with shipped goods and need to track progress from the manufacturer all the way to the consumer.
There are a lot of processes in there to keep track of, so why not automate them?
Project management might be organizing and scheduling marketing campaigns. It also might be connecting all of your tools together so you have one dashboard, giving you a clear view of everything that's happening across the company.
The most popular AI project management tools include:
Depending on your industry, you can find automation tools to streamline your business practices and make your business much more efficient and likely more profitable.
8. Data Analytics
Every one of these categories likely has some form of data analytics happening. The single biggest superpower of AI is its ability to handle and analyze a ton of data quickly.
You can track customer and employee behaviors, preferences, trends, bottlenecks, etc. You can see what's working and what's not. You can track trends across your industry.
The possibilities are endless.
While data analytics has its own category here, you'll likely want to find a tool in one of the above categories with robust data analytics and insights capabilities.
AI for SMBs Could Mean a Brighter Future
This list of tools shows how powerful AI for SMBs can be. As a small business owner, you don't have to manage everything alone.
In fact, if you try to, you'll likely have trouble growing your business beyond a certain point because you can't scale yourself.
But you can scale AI solutions.
A new report by Yell states that “by adopting AI such as chatbots and automated financial reports, businesses can save an average of nearly 40 hours each week.”
That's a lot of time saved. Imagine implementing AI into multiple areas of your business!
The key AI tools small business owners should consider are:
- Workflow automation
- Customer service support
- Marketing campaigns and management
- Financial management
- People management
- Project management
- Data Analytics
Running a small business is a lot of work. Make AI work for you so you can free up valuable time and focus more on what AI can't do.
Do you want to see how easy it could be to implement AI solutions into your small business? Contact ERPA here if you want to see what's possible.