The Essential Guide to Implementing Generative AI in Small Businesses

Generative AI is a paradigm shift in how small businesses operate. By reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and enabling high-quality content and service delivery, AI is leveling the playing field, allowing small companies to truly compete in the digital age.

But how can they use these new technologies to achieve their business outcomes? That question inspired this latest piece of research from the team at OnDeck. They spent some time looking at the best generative AI tools for small businesses, then put together a how-to guide explaining how to integrate them into daily operations.

Let's get into it.

What is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a 'creative' form of artificial intelligence that can generate 100% original content, including text, images, videos, music, and software code.

How does it work?

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E utilize machine learning models and neural networks to identify, analyze, and understand patterns and features. It then uses these data to generate new content based on recognized patterns but is 100% original in composition. This could include poems, stories written in a particular style, an original image in an impressionist or abstract style, or a digital illustration of objects or scenes that don't exist in the real world.

Is Generative AI actually creative?

Not really. Its outputs are defined by the quality and diversity of training data. Essentially, AI's creations are a blend together of patterns it has learned. It does not 'understand' the content in the way humans do. Instead, it's predicting and repeating statistical patterns.

How small businesses are using Generative AI

Generative AI has revolutionized the landscape for small businesses. They now have access to tools to produce content at scale quickly, using technology that was previously exclusive to larger corporations with substantial resources.

This technology is a game-changer in several key areas, including:

Content Creation and Marketing: Generative AI can produce a variety of content, including written articles, social media posts, and marketing copy, quickly and cost-effectively. It saves time and enables small businesses to maintain a solid online presence, which is crucial for building a brand and attracting new customers.
Graphic Design and Branding: Hiring a professional graphic designer for branding or marketing materials is an expense many small businesses can't afford, especially in the start-up days. AI-driven tools can generate logos, promotional materials, and website designs, offering the perfect, cost-effective solution.

Personalization at Scale: Generative AI can analyze customer data to help create personalized experiences and content, a key strategy proven to significantly boost engagement and sales. Small businesses can use these AI-powered insights to tailor their marketing efforts, product recommendations, and customer interactions, providing a level of service that rivals larger competitors with giant in-house marketing departments.

The benefits of using Generative AI

Here are some stats highlighting why every small business should start using generative AI:
  • AI tools increase content output by up to 500%.
  • By using AI-driven design tools, small businesses report up to 40-60% savings on graphic design and branding costs.
  • Small businesses using AI for personalized marketing see an average increase of 20% in customer engagement.
  • Automation of routine tasks by AI can lead to a 30-50% reduction in time spent on administrative work.
  • Companies leveraging AI for personalized customer experiences have seen a 10-15% sales increase.
  • Small businesses using AI for product development report a 25% faster time-to-market for new products.
  • Implementing AI chatbots leads to an average increase of 35% in customer satisfaction scores due to quicker and more efficient service.
  • Businesses incorporating AI tools report an average revenue increase of 15-25% within two years of adoption.

The do's and the don'ts of using Generative AI as a small business

We've looked at why businesses should use generative AI; now let's look at how they can utilize it.

A recent guide put together by the team at OnDeck includes some golden rules for adopting generative AI tools. They include:
  • Use AI to generate basic, high-volume, time-consuming content like titles, snippets, alt text for images, and meta descriptions.
  • Always fact-check and edit any AI-generated content. The final sign-off before publishing should always come from a human content creator.
  • Be careful about what information you put into generative AI tools. You may give away company secrets or breach confidentiality agreements with clients.
  • Don't use AI to create all your content, especially on your website. Too much AI-generated content may impact your SEO ranking.

Text creation with AI tools offers a free AI text generator that is ideal for crafting basic content. For extended, long-form content, consider subscribing to premium services like ChatGPT or Jasper. They're well worth the investment and can produce quality blogs/articles in just a few minutes.
Top tip: It's crucial to fact-check, as Jasper and ChatGPT can sometimes produce inaccurate or even offensive content.

Applications of generative text tools include:
  • Developing chatbots for simple customer inquiries
  • Crafting basic marketing materials
  • Brainstorming content ideas and strategies
  • Summarizing lengthy reports, articles, and industry papers

AI-driven image creation tools

Thanks to AI tools like Midjourney and Canva, anyone can now produce high-quality, professional images and designs by typing a few simple inputs into an AI generator. And it costs less than $15 per month.

Use these tools for:
  • Designing graphics for blogs, websites, and social media
  • Editing and improving existing images
  • Creating logos and brand elements
  • Producing striking advertising visuals

AI audio generation for small businesses

Podcasting is an effective medium for audience engagement and thought leadership. And with AI tools like Riverside available for around $15 a month, a lack of technical skills is no longer a barrier to producing great podcasts that drive customer engagement.

You can also use platforms like Vowel to transcribe audio content from meetings and interviews. Think of it like your virtual admin assistant. And the best part? It's completely free for sessions that are 40 minutes long or less.

AI audio platforms can also:
  • Produce music, jingles, and sound loops
  • Convert written content into audio formats
  • Transcribe audio to text

AI in video content production

Businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on using video content to educate customers and train staff. A recent survey found that 98% of small business owners recognize video as essential for learning and development.
So take some time to look at AI video platforms like Pictory,, and Synthesia. They can help a small business:
  • Create training videos for employees
  • Produce promotional videos
  • Transform blog content into engaging video formats
Take a look at the infographic below for more insights:

Generative AI for Small Businesses: Uses, Tools and Examples

The Essential Guide to Implementing Generative AI in Small Businesses

Read next: GenAI Prism: This Infographic Illuminates the Expansive Universe of Generative AI Tools
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