Column by Theo Paphitis
Just when businesses thought they’d seen the tail end of the pressure that Covid had foisted upon them, they’re now faced with a cocktail of cost pressures and supply chain instabilities; I think most people would agree when I say that it’s been a tough time for businesses recently – especially for SMEs, who form the backbone of our economy. However, amongst this slew of bad news, there’s been one recent development that’s shone through and offered a potential glimmer of opportunity for small businesses – Artificial Intelligence.
Now, I know there’s some bleak commentary surrounding AI – notably how the advent of it marks the extinction of the human race! But quite frankly, the potential it has to revolutionise and help catapult small businesses to the next level is indisputable. Business owners often find themselves trapped working inside their business rather than on it – and it’s not just them saying this, the stats speak for themselves.
Of the 5.5 million small businesses in the UK, 4.1 million have no employees, meaning the owner has to do the sales, admin, marketing, accounting – the list goes on. For small business owners, performing all these roles is time-consuming, often inefficient and ultimately means they don’t have time to focus on developing their business.
AI can completely transform that.
If it was around when I was first starting out, I’d have bit your arm off if you’d said I could implement it into my business. Take Chat GPT – a free chatbot-style AI – as an example. Not so good at writing, but you understand the value of having a social media presence? Not to worry, Chat GPT can churn out a conveyor belt of personalised social media posts in a matter of moments. And, it’s not just copywriting that you can leverage
AI to help you with; it can optimise your customer service, streamline admin and even automate your sales outreach – and the cherry on the top? It’s incredibly cost-effective – if not completely free. Of course, it goes without saying that you’re still responsible for what AI outputs, and as a lawyer recently found out when he was caught out for citing made-up case law he’d got from Chat GPT to a judge, sometimes AI can spout utter nonsense!
At a recent event, dedicated to providing a voice for SMEs, one of the businesses in attendance shared that they’d managed to work out where their pricing formulas had gone wrong, just by inputting his data into Chat GPT – truly remarkable stuff!
What does all of this translate to I hear you ask?
Valuable time that can now be redirected to the development of your business rather than on day-to-day tasks that suck away all your time and creativity.
So, to all the SMEs out there reading this, don’t be afraid to embrace AI because it’s only going to get better, and become an even more intrinsic part of business and society. We’re very much just scratching the surface of what it’s capable of. It’s here to help you, at least, when it comes to running your business!
Theo Paphitis – Small Business Sunday #SBS
If you’re a small business then check out Theo’s free-to-enter #SBS Small Business Sunday competition which runs every Sunday between 5 – 7.30pm on Twitter and Instagram – a free boost for small businesses with ambitions to grow and a chance to join one of the UK’s small business communities. Further information is here: theopaphitissbs.com