Unleash the AI: How Small Businesses Can Harness the Power of Generative AI

Unleash the AI: How Small Businesses Can Harness the Power of Generative AI

As artificial intelligence continues its march into nearly every industry, small business owners are left wondering how to leverage these new technologies without getting left behind. Eric Pacifici, a business attorney and founding partner of SMB Law Group, offers practical guidance on how small companies can take advantage of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. While acknowledging valid concerns around issues like confidentiality and accuracy, Eric argues these technologies can help entrepreneurs save time on mundane tasks and free up resources amid today’s talent crunch.

While generative AI gained significant traction, media buzz, and excitement in 2023, many in the small business world have expressed hesitation about using this emerging technology in their professional lives. These fears are understandable and not completely unwarranted. Generative AI can pose real risks if not used carefully; issues ranging from client confidentiality to plagiarism and false or outdated information can easily arise.

That said, generative AI can be an effective tool to save entrepreneurs and small business owners countless hours of unnecessary work each week, provided that it is used with a healthy dose of skepticism and oversight. While this new and exciting technology shouldn’t — and simply can’t — replace humans in all cases, it’s an incredible tool to tackle mundane administrative tasks, especially for the 40% of small businesses currently struggling to find talent in today’s tight labor market.

As the co-founder of a law firm focusing on small business M&A, we thoughtfully use AI tools like ChatGPT in our practice every day – and many of my small business-owning clients do the same. Here are my top tips on how to do it right:

Creating the Perfect Prompt

With generative AI, the results you receive are only as good as the prompt you put in. For more complex questions, there’s a simple “formula” that I use to ensure ChatGPT gets all of the information that it needs. The prompt should include the following:

  • Issue – Clearly define your problem
  • Facts ­– Provide relevant background
  • Rules – State the particular area you’re asking about
  • Objective – Write what you’re trying to accomplish

Try this formula the next time you’re inputting prompts into ChatGPT (see an example below) – and if you don’t like the output, you can always adjust and try again to get the results you need.

ChatGPT Use Cases

Researching and Analyzing Simple Business Disputes

There are myriad ways that generative AI tools, even free ones like ChatGPT, can help small business owners. One that’s particularly pertinent in my line of work is researching and analyzing legal business disputes.

Say, for example, you own a storage facility in Broomfield, Colorado. One of your customers is behind on rent and owes $750. You would like to withhold and sell their possessions to recoup the back rent, but they’ve sent a demand letter and want their items back.

While you may have a natural inclination to call a lawyer, they would likely be too expensive for this low-dollar dispute. Generative AI tools are great options to point you in the right direction of how to proceed. Here’s how I’d set up a prompt for ChatGPT:

  • Issue: Can I withhold my tenant’s possessions and sell them to recoup back rent?
  • Facts: I own a storage facility. One of our customers is behind on rent and owes us $750. They’ve sent us a demand letter and want their possessions.
  • Rules: I’m located in Broomfield, CO. I’m not sure what rules apply. Can you let me know?
  • Objective: We would like to withhold and sell their possessions to recoup the back rent.

See what type of response ChatGPT provides to you, and you can always adjust your prompt and/or add additional context as needed. Of course, while AI provides a great starting point, it’s worth mentioning that ChatGPT is not a lawyer, and does not always provide the most up-to-date or accurate information. Before taking any legal action, make sure to double-check the resources the AI has provided.

Developing Marketing Materials.

Generative AI is an excellent resource for developing marketing materials like social media posts, blog content, newsletter templates — you name it. As many small business owners could tell you, marketing and promotion are two vital growth elements that often fall by the wayside. Delegating to generative AI is a solid way to manage those efforts without taking too much time away from other tasks.

Here’s an example of a prompt I may feed to a generative AI tool: “Pretend you are a copywriter for a blog. You are writing an 800-word article titled, ‘12 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know Before Buying their First Business.’ It will offer practical tips and advice, and should reflect a professional, informed tone.”

As a reminder, ChatGPT can provide you with a great starting point, but it doesn’t have to – and often, shouldn’t – be used word-for-word. Feel free to personalize the copy to give it a tone and style that feels like your own.

Client Communications.

There are many ways generative AI can streamline your client communications. Let’s say you’re hopping on a call with a client, and you’d like an agenda to guide your discussion. Prompt ChatGPT with anonymized notes that you’d like to discuss, along with issues and questions, and it will provide a well-organized outline to walk through with the client.

Generative AI can also be a great tool to help proofread drafts of emails or documents. Just make sure that any confidential client information is removed or anonymized to protect privacy.

ChatGPT: The Good, the Bad, the (Maybe) Ugly

There’s no reason not to use generative AI to get your time back and to support you in tasks that would otherwise be too time-consuming and/or stressful to manage alone. Think of it as an assistant, one that can draft or rewrite emails, provide valuable information, or offer key insights in seconds. As long as you’re applying caution and common sense, harnessing it to give you time and resources back is never a bad idea.

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