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Running a business

How to incorporate AI tools into your business

It's Monday morning, and instead of wrangling your various to-dos in your calendar and dealing with serious budgeting issues, you're greeted with a neatly organized schedule and an optimized budget ready for review.

Sound like a dream? It doesn't have to be. This is what a day can look like for your business when you have AI in your corner.

For a small business, AI is more than just a buzzword. It's a game-changer that can help you work smarter, not harder.

Intrigued? Here's what you need to know about using AI—including generative AI—to revolutionize your business.

What is generative AI?

First, let's take a look at an AI tool that's being talked about everywhere: generative AI.

Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence (AI) systems that use machine learning algorithms to generate data that is similar to the data it has been trained on.

In simpler terms, you can think of generative AI as a digital apprentice—one that learns from vast amounts of data, sees the patterns and structures within that data, then generates new content that mirrors these patterns.

Generative AI isn't just a mimic device, though. It's also capable of creating entirely new content based on what it has learned.

And while generative AI is making waves in the business world, it's just one piece of the AI puzzle for small businesses. In fact, there's a whole universe of AI tools at your disposal.

How AI tools can benefit your business

AI can be your secret weapon, offering benefits in several key areas to transform your business.

  • Boost efficiency. AI can take care of your more mundane or routine tasks, freeing up your time for the more strategic work that drives the success of your business. It's like having an extra pair of hands that never tires.
  • Enhance productivity. With AI, you can accomplish more in less time. It's a productivity powerhouse that can help both you and your team get more done.
  • More satisfied customers. Increase customer satisfaction by using AI to analyze your customer data and create more personalized customer experiences.
  • Informed decision-making. AI can analyze a lot of data quickly and accurately. The result? Valuable insights to inform data-driven decisions.
  • Scaling your business. Many AI tools can handle larger workloads without additional costs—which makes it easier to scale your business operations.
  • Cost-effective. While there's an initial investment cost, AI's many benefits can lead to significant cost savings in the long run.
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How to use AI in your small business

Ready to explore the practical applications of AI and open up new possibilities for your business? Here's a rundown of all the ways you can use AI tools in your business today.

1. Customer communication

Dealing with customer inquiries and email responses can be time-consuming. Imagine a friendly AI chatbot handling inquiries from your customers and managing your email responses. This is where generative AI tools can be a game-changer.

Picture a busy bakery, where the staff are as much in demand as their delicious pastries. By deploying an AI chatbot that answers common questions about operating hours and daily specials, their customers stay informed—while staff get to keep their hands on the dough.

2. Business brainstorming

Fresh ideas and innovative problem-solving can propel your small business to new heights. But keeping your creative juices flowing can be a challenge—one that AI tools are well-positioned to help you meet head-on.

For example, with tech startups, innovation is the name of the game. With the help of AI, a small tech startup firm can turn user feedback and market research into a roadmap for new app features that hit the mark for potential customers.

3. Research

Whether it's sales, customers, or inventory—many small businesses handle a lot of data on a day-to-day basis. But collecting and analyzing your data can be both complex and labour-intensive. AI tools designed for research and analysis can simplify the process—and provide you with data-driven insights.

Take the case of a craft brewery, with a variety of beers as diverse as their customer base. Choosing the next beer they brew is as important as the quality of the hops they use. With AI, they can turn sales data and customer preferences into a recipe for success.

4. Marketing

In business, you can't rely on the old adage—build it, and they will come. Crafting a marketing strategy can take up a lot of your precious time. AI-powered marketing tools can act as your marketing assistant, helping you shape—and implement—your strategy, and create personalized experiences for your customers.

Let's look at a local beauty salon, where the personal touch is everything. The right recommendations can turn a one-time client into a loyal customer. With AI, they can turn their booking data and customer preferences into targeted marketing, offering personalized service recommendations to keep clients coming back.

5. Operations

Whether it's keeping track of your inventory or predicting demand for your products or services, AI tools designed for operations management can help you streamline routine tasks and improve efficiency. For example, QuickBooks inventory tracking software uses AI and automation to make time-consuming tasks like inventory management easier.

Imagine a small hardware store struggling with managing its inventory. QuickBooks can easily transform this process. With its real-time inventory updates, alerts for low stock, and integration with various online sales and payment platforms—the store can use QuickBooks inventory tracking to ensure it's always well-stocked, resulting in fewer missed sales opportunities and happier customers.

6. Financial management

Even if you have a head for numbers, spending time crunching them probably isn't where you want to spend most of your time (unless you're an accountant). This is where AI-powered financial management solutions can shine, stepping in to help with tasks like budgeting and the automation of routine processes.

For example, consultants at a local consulting firm travel frequently to meet clients on-site. In order to track expenses efficiently, they turn to QuickBooks Online to automate some of the processes, ensuring accurate reporting and making tax time easier.

Tips for incorporating AI tools into your small business

Embracing AI tools in your business for the first time can feel overwhelming. But with the right approach, AI can be transformational for your business.

Here are some pointers to help you navigate the AI journey:

  1. Start small and scale up. Does it seem like there's an AI tool for almost any business process? That's because there is. But don't get overwhelmed. Dip your toes into the AI pool by starting with one task or process that AI can help you with. As you begin seeing the benefits, you can gradually expand to other AI tools.
  2. Choose the right tools. All AI tools are not created equal. Having the right software or service for your needs can make a big difference. Do your research so you can choose tools that meet your specific needs and objectives.
  3. Train your team. Successful AI implementation requires buy-in from your team—and the best way to do this is by making sure they know how to best use the AI tools you're bringing on board. Proper training will help your employees be more comfortable and confident, and maximize the benefits of your new tools.
  4. Monitor and adjust. Incorporating AI into your business operations isn't a set-it-and-forget-it process. It's important to keep a close eye on how your AI tools are performing. Are they meeting your expectations? Are there any unexpected issues? Regular monitoring lets you make adjustments as needed, and get the most out of your AI investment.
  5. Get expert help. While AI tools are designed to be user-friendly, they're also powerful and can be complex. Make use of the expert help that's available. QuickBooks is a pioneer in using AI and machine learning in its products and services—and its customer service is always ready to assist you with optimization.

The power of AI can transform your small business, making it more efficient, productive, and competitive. Embracing AI in your business is about working smarter, not harder—freeing up your time to focus on what you do best—running your business.

And when it comes to managing your finances, QuickBooks is your ally. With its ability to automatically track and categorize expenses, you can stay on top of your finances with ease. Take the first step towards smarter financial management. Start managing your small business expenses with QuickBooks today.

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