AI tips for small businesses

An AI expert outlines how small business owners can make the most of AI tools.

At a glance

Here's a snapshot of the advice from our interviewees:

  • Using AI, small businesses can save time and money, and integrate changes faster than larger businesses.
  • While the technology is constantly changing, there is lots of help available – and you may already have it in the software you use.
  • Be mindful of privacy issues and never put your clients’ personal details directly into an AI program; keep them safe in a separate system.

Don’t get left behind on AI

If you think you’re too small to worry about integrating AI tools into your business, then you could be the exact business that needs it.

“AI is actually more accessible to small businesses, [which] typically can be more agile,” according to Peter Mangin, Founder of AI Innovisory.

“You can leverage it [AI] quickly and for quite a low cost, compared to a larger business [which have] all of these elements they have to integrate; it’s a significantly bigger project for them than for a small business.”

He said that while ChatGPT opened everyone’s eyes to AI, there has been a proliferation of tools available through common products used by small businesses such as HubSpot and Canva.

“With all this accessibility and affordability, I think you’d be mad not to use it, because you’re going to miss a lot of efficiency gains,” he suggests. “By virtue, you’re going to lose a competitive edge because other people are going to start doing things a lot smarter and a lot quicker than you and providing a higher level of service to their clients.

“Even little things like generating content for online, say, for LinkedIn, TikTok or Facebook – being able to do that at scale, where previously smaller businesses might have struggled to do that, and knock it out in 10 minutes – I don’t see why you wouldn’t,” he said.

Help is at hand

For small businesses unsure where to start, Peter suggests browsing a curated list of AI tools at

“Click on [any] one that takes your fancy,” he says. There is also a YouTube channel with demonstrations.

“Not only in business, but in society as a whole, if you aren’t at least familiar with the tools – not necessarily the specific tools but the concept of how they fit in – then you’re going to find that there’s a widening digital divide among businesses.

“Small businesses just need to try it. You’ve got nothing to lose. You might pay $20 for a subscription for one month and might not get the ROI, or you might save hundreds of hours and dollars.”

You probably already have access to it

Peter said that AI is available in the tools small businesses are already using, such as Google Duet, which is attached to Google Drive and can scan your documents in the drive to create reports, emails and presentations.

“Other technologies … automatically prioritise your emails,” he says. “Being able to intelligently scan and triage those emails and send them to the right people – that’s a game changer.”

Peter gives an example of a small, independent clothing retailer in New Zealand who was forced to go online during COVID. Their customers are half online and half in person, but they realised the people that physically came into the shop bought more items.

Peter helped the business implement an AI-powered recommendation engine and create an automated email marketing system through HubSpot that included personalised recommendations.

“Revenue grew by 25%, and the ROI on investment was achieved within two months,” he says. “We also found that they got a lot more engagement with their brand as they also started using AI to put out more content on Tik Tok and Facebook.”

Take a considered approach

Using AI isn’t a free-for-all. For example, using AI for website copy could create SEO implications that prompt Google to push your site ranking “down into the depths of hell”.

There are also ethical considerations.

“Before you try it, put in place a framework,” says Peter. “For example, don’t put your customers’ personal information into these things, ever. Check your privacy policies and be very transparent about where you are going to use AI.

“At the end of the day, people will only buy things from, and engage with, brands they trust. So don’t destroy the trust.”

He suggests adding disclaimers for clarity.

“If you use Midjourney to create images in your email newsletter, [add a note saying] ‘Created by Midjourney’. If you’re using AI to tailor products, say ‘These are automated recommendations based on what you have bought before’.

“The other thing is to get out of your own head and think beyond boundaries. You will be surprised by what AI can do.”

Talk with a Prospa lending specialist about how a Prospa Small Business Loan could help you invest in AI tools.

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