Data from Deloitte has found that small businesses are lagging behind on the uptake of AI tools for business. According to Deloitte, 9.5% of large Australian firms (those with more than 200 staff members) are officially using AI, compared to 1.4% of all firms in Australia.

According to research from Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), more than half (56%) of SMEs agree that investing in AI is important to achieve business growth. However, 80% cite barriers or challenges faced by their business to start using, or further investing, in AI. Among these was a lack of comprehension and knowledge about the new technology (28%).

Despite the significant potential for AI to drive business growth, many small businesses are held back by a lack of knowledge and resources. To bridge this gap, here are actionable steps tailored for small business owners looking to harness the power of AI.

Getting started

To set yourself up for success, it’s important to spend at least 10 hours familiarising yourself with the AI platform. It might sound like a large chunk of time, but this first step allows you to get acquainted with the AI and see what it’s capable of.

Get started by asking generative AI like ChatGPT to create a recipe using the ingredients in your pantry. You can build on this by then getting it to create a meal plan and shopping list. Before you know it, you’ll have done your 10 hours and you’ll have a much better understanding of how it can help you.”

Best AI tools for SMEs

Consider upgrading to the paid version of ChatGPT. While the free version is powerful, the paid version is hyper-intelligent and can act like a personal assistant, making it an investment that pays for itself.  As a small business owner, it can be difficult to express yourself when busy, stressed or tired. ChatGPT can help with overcoming blank page syndrome, managing communications, and even responding to tough emails. 

Use ChatGPT as a personal assistant to help with brainstorming ideas, finding inspiration, and organising your schedule. It can help you to create time blocks for your priorities, develop a task list, and set a schedule, making your day more productive.

Claude is another great tool for content creation. It offers a different personality and approach compared to ChatGPT. I would recommend starting with the free version and if you find it useful, consider upgrading to the paid version for more intelligent and nuanced content creation.

How to craft a prompt

When using AI tools like ChatGPT, it’s crucial to provide as much context as possible. Think of it like briefing an intern. Start by clearly stating the nature of your work, what your company does, and the purpose of the task. For example, explain that you’re creating marketing content for a small business in Australia, aiming to engage local customers.

After sharing the context, provide specific examples of the type of content you need. For instance, if you want it to write a blog post, share a rough outline or key points. Mention any specific considerations, such as using Australian English, and provide a desired word count to ensure the output meets your needs and expectations.

AI traps to avoid

Do not overlook the crucial step of thoroughly reviewing AI-generated content to ensure the messaging is clear and concise.  Just because AI wrote it, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. These tools can sometimes waffle and repeat itself, so it’s important to edit the content to make sure it’s engaging and to the point.

While ChatGPT-4 is generally accurate, it’s always important to double-check specific facts and details. Ensuring the accuracy of your content will maintain your credibility and trust with your audience.

Rebecca Hegeman is an AI expert at Localsearch.