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Growing a business

Leverage AI for business growth and success

Streamline, improve and automate 



Small and medium-sized businesses (SME) often look for innovative and easy ways to streamline their operations to stay lean, efficient and productive. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) is proving to be a strong contender, offering services and solutions that can provide much-needed support to the SME sector. 


Is the Australian SME sector open to the benefits that AI can deliver, or are they more concerned about its wider impact? 


In this article, we explore the SME sector’s response to the arrival of AI, as well as several ways in which AI can assist in enhancing business operations, processes and practices. You’ll also learn about several AI tools specifically designed for businesses. Let’s dig in! 

4 ways AI can improve business operations


As a small business owner, you’re likely stretched for time, juggling a range of priorities while managing the nitty-gritty of operations, accounting, and customer support. 


Many small businesses often find themselves challenged financially and resource-wise from time to time. Failing to implement appropriate technology in the running of a business can quickly lead to overwhelm, low performance and missed deadlines. Instead of feeling energised and optimistic about their business plans for growth, there might be lethargy and weariness around always having to put out fires instead.


Where does AI fit into all of this? 


There are numerous AI tools available, whether for free or for a fee, that are worth reviewing to assess their fit and application. 


The reality is this: AI can integrate into your everyday business operations to automate simple tasks and support you in making informed decisions. 


According to the National Australia Bank’s SME Business Insights - Artificial Intelligence (March 2024) report, many Australian SMEs are already actively investing time and money in AI, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) and automation to help run their business operations.


So, here’s a look at the four ways in which AI can improve how you run your business.


1. Automate more tasks 


AI-powered tools are capable of handling a range of routine and time-consuming tasks such as data entry, invoicing, and even email management, allowing you to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of your business. 


Let’s take a deeper look at invoicing. For instance, in QuickBooks, you can: 

  • Automatically match payments with invoices 
  • Send recurring invoices 
  • Allocate recurring transactions automatically


Depending on the volume of transactions processed and the number of clients, these features can help you save valuable time otherwise spent on manually attending to these entries.


2. Offer better customer support 


With the rise in global eCommerce, internet proliferation and pervasive use of smartphones, most customers expect to be able to transact with ease and speed. Additionally, customers expect their issues to be addressed immediately and queries responded to in real time. 


Evolving customer expectations require that businesses align their customer support channels to meet these changing needs. An increase in digital customer support channels includes things like email, social networks, live chat, self-serve knowledge resources and on-page support widgets. 


This is where AI can shine, as AI tools such as chatbots and virtual assistants come to the forefront.


A chatbot is simply a piece of software that interacts with a human being through written language. It is embedded in web pages or digital applications to respond to customers: 

  • Without the need for human agents or
  • To bring human agents in when an issue is escalated


Many businesses employ chatbots today, and many also offer chatbot services, including Bloomberg, Amazon Web Services and Mastercard.


A virtual assistant is either a digital application or software that uses AI technologies like natural language processing (NLP), artificial AI and machine learning algorithms to autonomously perform certain tasks. 


Aside from being available to answer frequently asked questions on your behalf, you gain consistent support and enhanced customer experiences.



3. Refine and improve your data analysis 


Data can provide a wealth of knowledge for businesses aiming to gain deeper insights into customer preferences and market trends. However, this also means making decisions about tools to use as well as the choice of data sets and interfaces to choose from. It’s not easy. 


With AI, you can automatically collect relevant data from websites, social media, and internal databases, ready for analysis. This gives you the information necessary to make data-driven decisions, leading to better strategic planning.



4. Streamline your financial management 


Financial management involves several key components such as: 

  • Cash flow management
  • Budgeting
  • Financial analysis and reporting
  • Risk management
  • Tax planning and compliance
  • Capital management


Each of these components may benefit from the assistance of AI tools. For instance, AI can help to automate expense tracking, create and send invoices, and extract reports. 


Additionally, AI can analyse past financial data to better predict future cash flow trends, enabling businesses to anticipate periods of cash surplus or shortfall. This capability is particularly useful for small businesses with limited cash flow.


Now that we have explored several ways in which AI can provide support, let’s take a look at several tools.

3 AI tools designed for business use


Are you ready to move your small business forward with the help of powerful AI software? Here are three AI tools that are already being adopted by businesses. 


With the time and money saved thanks to your use of AI tools, how will you take your business to the next level? 


1. ChatGPT


ChatGPT is a free-to-use generative AI chatbot developed by OpenAI that allows users to upload prompts and receive human-like responses in return. 


Armed with many capabilities, here are several ways you can use ChatGPT:

  • Quickly develop content - generate content in seconds for a range of applications including website copy, social media posts and marketing collateral. Whether you need to develop fresh material, a second ‘eye’ to edit what you’ve written or access more ideas for improving what has been created, ChatGPT has you covered 
  • Apply shortcuts and create formulas - ChatGPT can assist in your use of spreadsheets such as Excel by creating personalised shortcuts and developing formulas tailored to your requirements. Ready-to-use code snippets can help to simplify analysis and automate repetitive tasks
  • Enhance your customer surveys - ChatGPT can help you refine your surveys by suggesting relevant questions to include, guide on structuring your survey and offer best practices for obtaining valuable insights from your customers


Keep in mind, however, that is possible for inaccuracies or fabrications to surface. A phenomenon known as “hallucinations”, occurs because AI does not inherently verify the accuracy of the information it processes. Human oversight is therefore critical at all times.


2. Salesforce Einstein 



An AI suite of tools, Salesforce AI known as Einstein integrates with its customer relationship management (CRM) platform to help businesses score leads, automate email marketing efforts, and leverage customer insights: 



  • Score leads - Einstein Lead Scoring can automatically prioritise your leads based on their likelihood to convert. This is achieved by assigning values to leads based on their behaviour in relation to specific products or services. This allows businesses to focus their efforts on the leads most likely to generate revenue
  • Automate email marketing - Personalise your content, select optimal send times for your email and track its performance (views and clicks). Take your email marketing campaign to a new level with automation. With Einstein, you will be able to increase email engagement and conversion rates with ease
  • Leverage customer insights - Einstein Analytics offers powerful data visualisation tools to help businesses gain insights into their customer data. Additionally, it can help to identify key marketing trends, monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), and assist you in making good decisions based on robust data.


3. Canva Magic Studio 



An online template editor app, Canva empowers the individual with no design skills or experience to jump on board and tap into their creative juices. With this app, a range of creative assets can be developed, from email newsletters and social media images to advertisements and more. 


Canva Magic Studio introduces the power of AI to Canva, enabling businesses to develop creative assets, designs, marketing material and a whole lot more in mere seconds. Powerful and robust, this tool expands possibilities, particularly for small businesses with limited marketing budgets.


Canva Magic Studio can help you with:


  • Creating snazzy content: For instance, you can create a prompt asking the AI to develop a social media post and even specify how long it should be. It will then generate a post with relevant text and supporting images
  • Personalising designs: This AI can customise design outputs to be on-brand for your business.


These three tools are simply a starting point - there are many more available and even more in the pipeline. 

Streamline your business operations with QuickBooks Online


As a small business owner, it’s safe to say that you have a lot on your plate. From daily tasks that demand attention to managing customer relations, adding and reconciling accounting transactions, and tackling new issues as your business expands, the list can seem endless.


We understand that there is a lot that goes into not only running but growing a business. By reducing error, eliminating duplication, and minimising manual effort, AI can streamline operations and increase automation. Additionally, it can provide robust insights that can inform the strategic direction of your business. 


Let AI support you so you can focus on what truly matters: growing your business.


Simple and fast accounting software - that is the promise of QuickBooks Online. This is a powerful tool for business, allowing you to streamline your accounting with robust accounting features like expense tracking, automated invoicing, and highly insightful financial reporting. 


Sign up for QuickBooks Online with a free 30-day trial today and empower your business with data-driven decisions.


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