Ten Reasons Small Business Owners Need AI

If you’ve watched the news recently, you know that it’s impossible not to hear about AI or Artificial Intelligence. Recent developments in AI provide significant hype and excitement for most industries, including financial and business sectors.

AI in Small Business

This is no different for small business. According to a recent GoDaddy study, more than half of small business owners have used AI. Of those AI users, two thirds report having a positive experience. A recent Deloitte study also indicates that generative AI will increase the global GDP by 7% and enhance productivity by 1.5%. Experts at Loan Mantra explain how Artifical Intelligence may improve operations – and financial successes – for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB).

“Small businesses are competing with large organizations with more resources: expensive marketing campaigns, large teams to manage their workload and other advantages that give them an edge. Meanwhile, many small businesses have limited budgets and smaller teams, so they must work more intelligently and efficiently to succeed in the marketplace. AI can be instrumental to this effort,” said Raj Tulshan, founder of Loan Mantra.

“More than 20% of small businesses fail within the first year, while approximately half fail within five years. To combat these frightening statistics, small business owners should use every tool possible to optimize their operations… and better serve their customers,” Tulshan added.

Photographer: Desola Lanre-Ologun | Source: Unsplash

Artificial Intelligence v. Financial Technology

Despite the frenzy surrounding AI and many businesses suddenly marketing themselves as ‘AI-based’, Artificial Intelligence is largely misunderstood. Too often a business using a tech platform or tool markets it as ‘AI’. But there are significant differences between AI and financial technology, or FinTech. AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines to mimic human behaviors. AI is interested in how a machine process can evolve; this includes learning, reasoning or self-correcting. The self-driving car is a good example of AI technology. Purportedly, the car becomes “smarter” over time as it adapts to take real-time action.

On the other hand, financial technology refers to a rule-based platform or system to improve processes, business models, products or applications for a financial operation. FinTech is also a rapidly growing field, and the relationship between AI and FinTech will likely yield significant results. Both fields, however, are still growing and developing.

If FinTech has proven its worth to small business owners, with faster and more transparent financing options, machine learning is still young. Still, even early development AI can improve the financial health of SMBs in the following ways.

Boost Small Business

Optimize efficiency

AI can automate many time-intensive administrative tasks, boosting efficiency and reducing workflow burdens. An estimated 4 billion global devices rely on an AI-powered assistants. When SMBs use AI-powered tools to handle administrative tasks, from note taking to calendaring, employees have more time to focus on value-added tasks.

Improve data collection and analysis

While the technology is still being developed, one of the most significant benefits of machine learning is the ability to gather, manage, and analyze massive amounts of data. Armed with this information, company leaders can make more informed decisions about their businesses, like how to identify and mitigate potential risks, how (and where) to focus marketing efforts, and how to make their supply chain safer and more transparent. It’s simply not possible to gather and analyze large volumes of data with manual or antiquated systems. A simple but time-saving example of integrating AI in data aggregation allows busy business owners to review synthesized meeting notes in minutes, versus slogging through a three-hour meeting.

Constant engagement

Small business owners wear several hats throughout the day; and they may not be able to respond to online questions, comments, or reviews as they arrive. Chatbots, chatgpt, and other rule-driven systems will continue to adopt AI, increasing the ability to engage with customers, key stakeholders and prospects in real-time and in increasingly useful ways. SMBs can answer questions at any hour, respond promptly to social media posts and engage with customers’ online reviews. This “seemingly small” effort can actually go a long way to boost key performance indicators (KPIs) like customer satisfaction, loyalty, referrals, and sales.

Boost marketing efforts

Marketing is essential to generating awareness, interest, excitement and sales, but busy SMB owners may not have the bandwidth to properly market their businesses or products. That’s where tech platforms and Artificial Intelligence come to play. AI can help you determine the best possible content to generate and template marketing campaigns, including blogs, social media posts, newsletter articles, email blasts, etc. Chatgpt allows marketers to develop content quickly, though smart marketers will confirm their content. AI can also analyze traits of “ideal customers” and customize materials for those demographics. At the same time, AI takes some of the guess work from employees, allowing them to quickly determine key market priorities and macro trends.

Identify and mitigate risks

AI does an excellent job of risk analysis and management. For example, food businesses are using AI to track the supply chain, providing much-needed transparency to identify any breaches. If a shipment of spinach is contaminated at the point of origin – or at any stop along the supply chain – AI can help notify a business and they can pull the tainted produce before it’s sold or served.

Simplify bookkeeping

AI-powered accounting software can automate bookkeeping tasks, including data entry, payroll, invoicing, inventory, and purchasing. Using AI vs. manual or disjointed systems saves tremendous time, money, effort, and stress, while also boosting accuracy and data points to inform decision-making.

Boost access to funding

Many SMBs need occasional financial help, and AI can help expedite the loan process, eventually leading to more accurate loan underwriting and decision-making. As a result, SMBs will be able to have faster access to the funds they need to maintain (or grow) their businesses.

Know the Customer

It’s essential for SMBs to conduct customer research to better understand their target demographics and buying behaviors. However, gathering and analyzing this data can be overwhelming and intimidating for many SMB owners. Luckily, AI tools excel at this task, and SMB owners can use this technology to simplify this important effort. In fact, machine learning can help SMB owners pinpoint their priority populations, determine how to best reach them through marketing, adjust their offerings, set optimal price points and better identify customers’ (and prospects’) wants and needs.

Better Interactions

Conversational AI can send reminders to phone agents to slow their speech down, share a reminder to agents about in-house promotions, and even provide feedback such as “You’re saying ummmm quite a lot.” If your business relies on high engagement through phone or virtual meetings, AI can help you determine what agents are eliciting positive or negative reactions from their customers. And, finally, AI can integrate with your SMS or sales systems to send the customer updates, answers to frequently-asked or pricing. This allows an agent to focus fully on relationship development.

Amplify financial analysis

AI solutions can expertly and accurately analyze financial data and trends, arming SMB owners with key insights they can’t access manually. The result? SMB leaders can make data-driven decisions about budgeting, investing, and hiring to protect their organization’s financial health – now and into the future.

“AI has become instrumental for small businesses, boosting their productivity and efficiency. By automating tasks, SMBs can accomplish more in less time, optimize resources, gain key insights, and better serve their customers,” Tulshan explained. “Moving forward, many more SMB owners will leverage AI to improve key metrics, engage with their customers and protect their companies’ financial health – now and well into the future.”

Learn more about how Loan Mantra will help you grow your business using forward-facing technology and human experts. Reach out today at www.loanmantra.com.