Article | July 9, 2021
The effect of COVID-19, the pandemic nationwide, was inevitable and became a catalyst for every business's digital transformation, irrespective of a large, small, or medium-sized business. 2020 saw a boom in digital transformation and escalated demand for artificial intelligence (AI). A few years back, artificial intelligence for small businesses was just a buzzword for owners, and today it is a new reality of our day-to-day life. Many companies have recognized the extensive benefits of AI. As the growing power of AI for small business owners has been considered, they have integrated them to achieve their goals.
Artificial intelligence, also called machine learning, offers small businesses the opportunity to become profitable, efficient, and effective. With time and evolution in technology, AI delivers results and has become affordable for small businesses. The unprecedented nature of the pandemic crisis brought in a set of new challenges and forced small companies to change and improvise their business strategies. This crisis led AI and machine learning to play a substantial role in various aspects of businesses.
According to statistics, the artificial intelligence industry will be worth $190 billion by 2025, with global spending on AI systems already reaching $57 billion by 2021. The machine learning and deep learning segment accounted for nearly 65% of the market in 2019.
According to ReportCrux Market Research, the global demand for artificial intelligence in the IoT market estimated to be around $ 2.64 billion in 2019, revenues are expected to be around $ 15.72 billion by the end of 2027, representing a 25.0% CAGR from 2020 to 2027.
Moving forward, before you hit the core topic of this blog, here are few additional aspects you need to know about AI and small businesses.
AI and small businesses
Today AI is the new headline of every business news and has become a prevalent technology adapted by almost every industry. However, before delving into the implications of machine learning and artificial intelligence for small businesses, let me throw some light on what artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are.
AI is creating computer systems capable of performing tasks that generally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation.
Machine learning is defined as “an artificial intelligence application that allows systems to learn and improve based on experience without being programmed automatically.”
AI and machine learning have become a mainstay of the new business world. Yet, as per the common misconception, this technology is still considered for bigger businesses with big budget to spend. However, as technology advances, artificial intelligence for small businesses has become more affordable, making it an industry reality for them as well.
According to the 2018 Vistage survey on the role of AI for small businesses, 13.6% of small-to-medium companies (SMBs) are currently using AI technologies to improve business operations and customer engagement. In addition, according to another survey of CEOs from small and medium-sized businesses, 29.5% of CEOs support AI technology.
Artificial intelligence has gained trust from few big names such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk.
AI and deep machine learning can be implemented through AI tools and AI software across different parts of business operations. AI tools help streamline all the processes of the business, thus transform the industry. AI tools for small companies benefit in various ways, including helping to improve sales and marketing efforts, improving recruitment and HR activities, and automating customer service and communications.
Here is how artificial intelligence (AI) can help your small businesses improve your performance efficiency.
Top 5 artificial intelligence recommendations for small businesses in 2021
Since the digital approach towards business operations, machine learning and artificial intelligence for small business operations are changing. However, it necessitates a well-planned marketing strategy for small businesses to maintain a personal touch in their approach. As a result, customer-relationship management (CRM) systems play an essential role in gathering customer data across various omni-channels such as email, social media platforms, and phone. This customer data aids in the improvement and automation of the sales process.
HubSpot CRM and Salesforce have incorporated AI into their technology; these AI-infused CRM for small businesses can help their owners in analyzing customer feedback. As a result, marketing and lead generation activities will be adjusted based on that information.
AI-infused CRMs not only improve lead generation results, but they have also begun to demonstrate how AI can be used to acquire marketing and sales-relevant insights, as well as to improve the customer acquisition process.
Effortless data-driven predictions and decision-making
Data plays a key role for businesses in the decision-making process. The data-driven approach helps to improve decisions, but for this, the companies need to recognize and adapt artificial intelligence (AI) into their workflow. Data holds the insight that enables better decisions, integration of AI and machine learning in workflow validates effortless data-driven predictions and more robust decision making for further actions.
The question is, how does AI help in the decision-making process based on data? Here is the solution; firstly, AI examines massive amounts of data and then provides insights to business owners, who make decisions based on this information. Then, do you see how artificial intelligence for small businesses in workflow simplifies decision-making and makes data-driven predictions with ease.
Application of artificial intelligence (AI) in human resource
The human resource was the most unexpected department into which artificial intelligence (AI) crept. Effective implementation of AI tools in human resources helps to streamline the hiring and onboarding process. Furthermore, it is beneficial to obtain employee feedback on how HR can improve the hiring process.
AI tools for small businesses offer their marketing teams to handle repetitive and tedious tasks like data entry, cleaning up extensive data, and testing sales campaigns' efficiency. In addition, artificial intelligence for small businesses empowers them to optimize their staff output.
AI-powered customer service
The big players in online retail are no longer the only ones. Small and medium-sized businesses are also gradually becoming a significant part of selling their products or services on an online portal. In the form of conversational platforms such as chatbots, IVRs, and visual bots, AI can enable proactive customer self-service. First, however, it is necessary to develop personalized customer service for their satisfaction. This can be done with the help of integration of the most used AI-powered chatbots.
Many small business owners are investing in this process to provide customer communication and service. Chatbots use natural language (NLP) processing technology of the machine learning tool.
Since the introduction of deep learning in AI, it has become a need of an hour to deliver better results to customers, as approximately 30% of all online retail transactions are made on a mobile phone. Most small businesses are utilizing AI to provide customers with first-hand product experience.
According to Gartner, “46% of SMBs (surveyed) are currently using or plan to use a chatbot within the next two years.” Another 21% of the small and medium-sized businesses polled were evaluating chatbots for use, according to the study. Chatbots is like a sales and customer rep working 24/7 for you.
Among the many artificial intelligence for small businesses available, this relieves stress and allows you to devote your time to more critical tasks. For example, with AI-powered customer service, you can simplify many tasks, facilitate customer communication and customer experience.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, most businesses turned online, giving rise to online data storage by companies both big and small. Thus, exposing them to new cyber threats to business and consumer data, which are called cyber-attacks. One of the most talked-about cyber-attacks in 2019 is ‘Ransomware,’ a form of malicious software that is often deployed via social engineering tactics.
According to the survey, ransomware attacks increased 350% globally in 2018, and ransomware attacks are expected to cost $6 trillion per year by 2021.
For small businesses with a minimal budget to spend on cybersecurity or sudden ransom, such attacks can be devastating. According to recent reports, 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within six months. But luckily, cybersecurity powered by AI may provide some relief from these attacks. AI-powered cybersecurity programs look for unusual activity or cyber threats detected and can stop the attacks or raise alerts earlier.
You can revitalize and empower your small business by employing artificial intelligence for small businesses to meticulously maintain an account database, stay in touch with customers, or protect your company from hackers.
AI is the future of businesses
In the future, AI can transform how businesses interact with customers, compete with one another, and grow in the market. On the other hand, the pandemic served as a catalyst for businesses to embrace the business benefits of artificial intelligence (AI). As a result, what would typically take years to implement on a large scale was completed in a matter of weeks and months. According to survey by Salesforce research, 51% of customers say their expectations of companies are now being influenced by AI.
According to a report, the global artificial intelligence (AI) market was worth 28.42 billion USD in 2019. According to the same report, the AI market will be worth 99.98 billion USD by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 34.86%.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence for small businesses help their owners reduce manual work and increase productivity with little effort and in a short period.
Can small businesses use AI?
Yes, small businesses can use AI and need an hour to implement it in their process. Small business owners can use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide the first-hand experience of their products or services to their customers. AI helps small businesses to handle repetitive and tedious tasks with great ease.
How can small businesses benefit from AI?
Implementation of AI in a small business can help to improve sales and marketing, streamline HR tasks, automate customer communication, provide cybersecurity from unpredictable threats, etc. Thus, artificial intelligence for small businesses can completely transform their position in the market.
How is AI implemented in small businesses?
AI technology can be implemented in small businesses using various AI-based tools, applications, or software.
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Article | February 26, 2020
Kudos if you have a website for small your business because many small business owners still don’t have websites for their businesses. According to the latest survey from Visual Objects, about one-third of small businesses (29%) plan to begin using websites for the first time in 2020. Needless to say, a good website can work like a well-oiled machine to generate leads. However, not all small businesses have websites. In fact, around 36% of small businesses are working without websites, states the Small Business Association (SBA).
Article | March 11, 2020
Branding can be referred to as the marketing and advertising of an individual, business or an organization for recognition and promotion. It can be a term, a logo or any feature that recognizes an individual’s goods or services distinct from others in the competition. The practice of branding is said to have begun in ancient Egypt wherein one person’s cattle was differentiated from the others by burning a unique symbol into the animal’s skin to prevent any theft. The term has been extended so as to promote the strategic values of a business and make the customer buy the product or service.
Article | July 23, 2021
Are you set with the business idea? So now is the real mammoth-sized challenge that is how to get startup finance? As the adage goes, "never put all your eggs in one basket," and this is especially true when it comes to startup financing options for your business. Entrepreneurs ought to understand the importance of diversifying financial sources and the available options. It is crucial to select the appropriate startup financing for small businesses.
According to a 2020 Federal Reserve report, new company small businesses are the primary source of job growth in the United States. Still, they are much more likely than larger firms to face financial difficulties in accessing borrowed capital.
Millions of Americans start their businesses each year. According to the Census Bureau, there would be over 4.3 million new business applications in 2020 alone.
It is vital to choose the suitable funding options as per your business requirements. Because every business's needs and circumstances are unique, no financial solution is one-size-fits-all.
Some choose to finance their startups with their years saved capital or get “love money” from family, spouse or friends, or any other funding options. How you choose to fund your business determines the structure and operation of your business. Hence, finding appropriate funding for startups is a bit tricky.
In this blog, explore few options of startup financing for small businesses and grow your business.
What is startup financing for small businesses?
Startup capital is a large sum of money raised to help with the financial needs of new businesses. Small business startup loan covers all the major company’s initial costs, such as purchasing equipment, working capital, machinery inventory, supplies, licenses, office space, furniture, product development, purchase of construction equipment or real estate.
Funding for startups can be provided by venture capitalists, angel investors, banks, or other financial institutions. It is pretty common that a new business might require more than one round of startup capital investment. In addition, many investors ask for a solid business plan in exchange for their money due to the risk involved in investing in the young company.
Advantages and disadvantages of startup financing for small businesses
• You will have enough money to start your own business.
• Personal wealth can be safeguarded.
• You have the option to retain ownership.
• You can establish business credit.
• It isn't easy to get startup business loans approved.
• High-interest rates.
• These loans may limit cash flow.
• Your personal credit may be jeopardized.
• You might not get all the money you asked for.
Where can I get a small business startup loan?
Small Business Credit Cards
Business credit cards are the most preferred option of startup financing for small businesses. As a result, small businesses are highly targeted by business credit card issuers providing them multiple offers, unique benefits, and applications.
Small business credit cards give small business owners easy access to a changing line of credit and a set of credit limits for making purchases and withdrawing cash. Business credit cards are safe, convenient, and a great alternative to startup business loans.
Applying for small business credit cards can be quickly done online or through banks. The criteria to qualify for a small business credit card depends on the business owner’s credit score and combined income (personal and business). Small business credit cards are convenient startup financing options.
Choose a credit card with a 0% APR to save money on interest. You will be able to pay off your debts in full each month once you start generating revenue. According to a recent Federal Reserve Small Business Credit Survey, 53% of small businesses use credit cards to help fund their operations.
The most significant advantage of a small business credit card is that you can access the funds immediately for short-term needs, potentially increasing your company's purchasing power.
Venture capital funding is a good choice of startup financing for small businesses. Venture capital is a type of equity and financing provided by investors to start-ups and small businesses with the potential for long-term growth. Venture capitalists are a type of investor who typically invests in a business against equity and holds a small portion of the company's ownership in exchange for capital.
When investing, venture capitalists consider a few criteria, such as specific industry sectors, company stage, and geography. In addition, venture capitalists frequently seek entrepreneurs with a robust business model that has the potential for higher returns.
Venture capital financing is difficult to obtain because, as a business owner, you must ensure that their focus matches your company's and its stage of development.
Venture capital is a time-consuming process that looks for more considerable opportunities that are stable, have a strong team, and have good traction. However, because venture capitalists provide a lot of mentorship and ownership, this may not be the best option for you if mentorship and compromising do not fit in your books.
Crowdfunding is a new trending option of startup financing for small businesses and has increased over the past few years due to its low risk for business owners. Crowdfunding is a way to raise startup capital through small contributions or investments from many individuals via crowdfunding websites or crowdfunding platforms.
To raise funds for startups through crowdfunding is not very difficult; it just requires setting up your company profile on the popular crowdfunding websites or crowdfunding platforms available. The profile needs to describe your company, its business, the products or services you deal in, and the amount of money you wish to raise.
Interested people can contribute to your campaign in exchange for a reward for their contribution. In addition, setting up a crowdfunding campaign gives exposure to your young company seeking money for the startup.
Crowdfunding for startups is accomplished by gathering donations from diverse people in exchange for a special reward. This incentive could take the form of free products, exclusive discounts, first access to new products, premium merchandise, the opportunity to join the team, or even becoming a significant capital investor.
Some of the popular crowdfunding platforms in the US include Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub, Onevest, SeedInvest, and many more. Each crowdfunding platform charges a fee to list your campaign, a flat fee or a percentage of the funds raised.
Because each crowdfunding platform is unique, make sure to read the fine print and fully understand your financial and legal obligations.
Love money from family and friends
Love money is nothing more than approaching your spouse, friends, and family for a loan to start your business. This is the most common type of financing option used by many companies, and it is one of the most essential sources of startup financing for small businesses at early-stage businesses.
Regardless of whether you have a personal and healthy relationship with your family and friends, never approach them solely for financial assistance. The mature move is to present them with a well-prepared business plan, financials, and other necessary documents. Then, request their valuable feedback on your business plan, as well as their advice based on their business experience, if any. This approach demonstrates your regard for their knowledge and expertise.
Despite all the benefits listed above, a business relationship with family or friends should not be taken lightly. Never assume that your close family or friends will lend you money. Do not take their financial assistance for granted.
Angel investors are another excellent source of startup financing for small businesses. Unfortunately, many people believe that venture capital and angel investors are the same things, but this is not the case.
Venture capital is the companies that invest in your business. In contrast, angel investors are wealthy individuals or successful retired business executives who invest directly in small firms and take an equity stake in the new venture.
Angel investors are one of the few startup financing options sought out during the early stages of a new business's growth.
Along with funds, angel investors offer advice based on their experience, technical and management knowledge, and network of contacts. As a result, Angel investors frequently have a low profile and invest less than venture capitalists.
Personal loans for business
A personal loan for business may be worth considering for entrepreneurs with excellent personal credit and a new business idea worth putting your own money on the line for. The benefit of this option is that there are no hidden fees; it is simply a personal loan.
Personal loans have lower interest rates and easier repayment terms than business loans. This is an effective startup funding option because it can be used for almost any purpose.
The most significant disadvantage of a personal loan is that you are the sole accountable if your business fails and is responsible for the repayment of the outstanding balance. However, this can be a viable option as a startup financing for small businesses if you need a relatively small startup capital.
Small business administration (SBA) loans
The SBA does not lend directly to small businesses; instead, it offers various loan guarantee programs to qualifying banks, non-profit lenders, and credit unions. For example, some banks offer low-interest loans to small businesses that are backed and guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). They target underserved companies and make loans to start-ups.
The loan application process is time-consuming, with stringent requirements for qualified small businesses. As a result, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a few startup programs such as micro-loans and Community Advantage.
Equipment financing is the top option if you need startup financing to purchase equipment and machinery. Because the equipment you will buy will serve as collateral for the loan, lending standards for equipment financing may be less stringent. However, if you do not return the money, the bank may seize your equipment to cover the cost of their lost money.
Dealerships, banks, and online equipment finance providers all offer equipment financing.
The main advantage of equipment financing is that you gain ownership of an asset, the payments for which are spread out over time, which is generally one to five years.
Frequently Asked Question:
What do you mean by startup funding?
Startup funding is money raised to help a new business meet its initial costs. To raise startup capital, entrepreneurs must create a compelling business plan to sell their concept to potential investors.
Where can I find startup financing?
Angel financing, crowdfunding, small business credit cards, venture capital, equipment financing are few popular options to find startup financing.
What are the types of funding?
Crowdfunding, venture capital, angel financing, small business administration loan, small business loans are few types of startup financing to businesses.
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"text": "Startup funding is money raised to help a new business meet its initial costs. To raise startup capital, entrepreneurs must create a compelling business plan to sell their concept to potential investors."
"name": "Where can I find startup financing?",
"text": "Angel financing, crowdfunding, small business credit cards, venture capital, equipment financing are few popular options to find startup financing."
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