Back to blog

AI for Small Businesses: Types, Benefits & Recommendations

Peter Szalontay
December 22, 2023
Create app
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

In the past artificial intelligence had the reputation of something only applicable to massive projects with thousands of people working towards the same goal – such as IBM’s “Watson” system or Google’s “DeepMind” research laboratory. However, everything changed just a few years ago, with more and more AI practices being used by enterprise and mid-sized businesses. At that point it was only a matter of time before the technology became even more accessible to be used in small businesses. In this article I'll review the most prominent applications of AI technology in small business tools and will also provide some recommendations on how to maximize the value and adoption of AI in your small business.

10 AI solution types for small businesses

There can be plenty of use cases for an AI implementation for an average small business. I tried creating a number of solution types to make it easier to categorize each AI solution according to its capabilities. Readers can go through this checklist and make sure they're maximizing AI solutions adoption in their organizations.

  1. Cybersecurity

Cyber threats are just as terrifying for small businesses as they are for large enterprises, so the involvement of AI in this particular sphere is always welcome. AI-powered cybersecurity solutions can monitor internal traffic, offer proactive protection against various types of cyber threats (viruses, trojans, malware, etc.), and even identify suspicious activities with your data.

  1. Marketing

Marketing as a whole can be simplified quite a lot with the help of AI solutions. Time-consuming tasks such as social media management, collateral design, lead generation and content creation can be fully or partially automated when AI is involved. There is also the fact that AI can analyze customer preferences to make it a lot easier for small businesses to deliver highly personalized marketing campaigns.

  1. CRM 

Customer relationship management systems with built-in AI help work similarly to how marketing solutions operate – with features such as interaction tracking and business data analysis. This allows for the creation of information-rich suggestions in terms of customer retention, as well as pattern identification, customer behavior prediction, lead data enrichment and more.

  1. Finances

Financial management tools with AI integrations can offer features such as expense tracking, financial planning, and bookkeeping. It is a great way to create informed financial decisions via expense categorization, data entry automation, financial report generation, and more. Also AI can reduce the overhead by automating part of the daily financial routine.

  1. Graphic design

Graphic design is a field that has been getting a lot of attention in terms of AI content recently (with complex image generation capabilities becoming more and more available to the public). Most of these solutions offer image creation based on a number of user prompts with no prior design experience necessary. Some solutions can even analyze user-generated sketches to create more specific designs, as well.

  1. Analytics

It is also possible to implement artificial Intelligence into your decision-making process as a whole via data tracking and data analysis. Analytical applications can offer pattern identification, future outcome prediction, and even trend identification to greatly improve the company’s capability to perform data-driven decisions. Google Analytics and other BI tools are a good examples of such a solution.

  1. Chatbots

Another branch of AI implementation that has been getting a massive attention surge for the last year or two is the wave of virtual assistants powered by artificial intelligence. A large portion of repetitive and monotone tasks can be easily replaced with an AI chatbot, improving support response times, minimizing lost chats to zero and freeing human agent resources for actual complex and sophisticated cases.

  1. Virtual assistants

A variation of AI assistance that is similar to a chatbot is a virtual assistant (Siri, Alexa). They can only handle some of the more basic administrative tasks, such as reminders and appointment scheduling, as well as calendar organization, email management, and more. The usage of virtual assistance can be of great help for small business owners especially, offering time-saving benefits and productivity bonuses at the same time.

  1. Workflow automation

Serving as a culmination of multiple categories we have mentioned above, AI’s potential in workflow automation is immense, since it can automate a variety of workflows and tasks that usually take a lot of time without being too complex. These kinds of tools are ultimately working towards boosting the productivity of small companies by enhancing overall efficiency, reducing the total number of errors made, and offering more free time for human resources to focus on more valuable tasks.

  1. Inventory management

Inventory management solutions can use AI for several different use cases – including demand forecasting, stock level optimization, and waste minimization. A large chunk of the inventory replenishment process can be automated by an AI that uses data such as market trends, historical sales data, and other factors. It is necessary to ensure that a small business always has the necessary product in stock while avoiding both understocking and overstocking issues.

AI adoption recommendations for small business

Since AI as a whole may have plenty of use cases, even for small businesses specifically, it is not that surprising to see that there are plenty of case-specific recommendations which can't be mentioned in a generic article. However, there are still plenty of recommendations and pieces of advice that would work for practically every use case.

Experiment with small pilot projects

It is relatively normal for a new technology to be at least somewhat overwhelming because it disrupts the existing work processes and changes something that everyone has accepted as “the norm”. As such, it is never a good idea to start AI implementation during a complex project that changes every single part of your business. The best option for small businesses is to go forward with a relatively minor project when it comes to AI implementation – it can act as a pilot, an experiment to gather the data and analyze it for a more grounded revelation about how beneficial AI can be for certain use cases.

Leverage "network effect"

A “network effect” is an important factor when it comes to AI – since artificial intelligence is capable of learning and evolving when it processes more and more data. Once your pilot project has proven itself successful, integrating more business data about the same topic into the AI engine would help it to become more accurate and detailed with its responses and actions.

Required features when choosing an AI-based solution for SMB

AI solutions for small businesses differ a lot between each other. It may not be easy to find a solution that works best for your specific use case – especially considering how new this entire market is. To make this choice easier, I can offer several general considerations that should be present in any good AI solution for small business:

  • A solution’s capability to scale and grow together with your business is paramount, the AI-based solution should not be holding back the entire company from growth.
  • The resulting quality is an important factor, even though it is somewhat difficult to quantify. It would always be a good idea to have at least some guidance on how the best possible results could be improved further – with better labels, more training data, etc.
  • Ease of use is another significant factor that is worth considering since most AI solutions are going to be used by most of the team regularly, including people with limited technical experience. A tool that takes months to get used to and explain to its fullest is practically useless in SMB.
  • Problematic parts of the solution should always result in a customer support request – and the customer support has to be immaculate since the technology is relatively new and there is a lot of misunderstanding around it.
  • Last but not least, the solution should be actually capable of performing the actions you’re looking for – be it image or text classification, natural language processing, etc.

AIaaS and its benefits in small business

Artificial intelligence has been helping businesses for quite a while now, but this help was extremely expensive, which is why only some of the biggest companies could afford it. Luckily, that is no longer the case, and now practically any business can afford some form of AI implementation due to the overall democratization of the technology which is becoming cheaper and accessible to a wider audience through platforms like chatGPT, Gemini and others. 

This is a big step for AI as a technology, and most of this can be attributed to the sudden rise of AI-as-a-Service, or AIaaS. This particular term describes the ability of a business to receive some form of advanced AI-based functionality via a subscription fee or a one-time payment.

AIaaS made it possible for small and middle-sized businesses to receive all kinds of AI-centric benefits that only large companies could obtain before. This includes:

  • More personalized customer service due to the ability of AI to understand and process information, offering a more personalized approach for each customer.
  • More time for creative or valuable tasks when it comes to human personnel by offloading repetitive tasks to AI that can perform them a lot faster than any human can.
  • Easier detection of suspicious activity in the system by implementing an AI-based monitoring service that can detect patterns and recognize irregularities in usual behavior.
  • Lower business costs in the long run due to the ability of AI to free up more resources and improve business efficiency as a whole.

Easier operations – with AI

An AI-based business solution can categorize documents or emails, identify the potential of every single lead, plan advertising campaigns and plenty of other tasks that greatly simplify the overall business operation across all departments. The usage of AI creates a lot more free time for human employees to spend on more meaningful and valuable tasks.

Better customer service – with AI

AI can categorize customer support requests, analyze customer retention and find potential issues, and even partially replacing the customer support agents. This helps dramatically with improving the overall customer experience and reducing personnel costs, making it easier to improve your services on a regular basis – even before the customer requests for the service to be improved.

Better products or services – with AI

AI is capable of monitoring the sentiment behind customer feedback and reviews, highlighting potential issues with the product or service. This kind of approach makes it a lot easier to gradually improve your product as time goes on, creating a more positive user experience, improving the product’s reputation, boosting its performance, and so much more than that.


The time of artificial intelligence as a luxurious technology that is only available to large-scale companies has passed. Now it is a borderline essential tool for businesses of all sizes, big and small. It can offer benefits in cybersecurity, data analytics, marketing automation, and plenty of other task categories, greatly improving the overall productivity of an average small business on the market. The future of SMBs looks positive when it comes to AI implementation, especially considering the recent rise in popularity of LLMs, no-coding development tools and other AI-based systems.

Related posts

AI for Small Businesses: Types, Benefits & Recommendations