2024_0318_CSC Blog Post—Small Biz Owners + AI

What Small Business Owners Need to Know About AI

Many people equate the changes artificial intelligence (AI) will bring to the business world with those that occurred when software initially came on the scene, rendering many tried-and-true practices extinct. Although AI isn’t a new concept—the modern field of AI came into existence in 1956—significant progress has been made over the decades since then toward developing an AI system and making it a technological reality.


AI is already disrupting virtually every business process in all industries; some of its most standard uses are machine learning, cybersecurity, customer relationship management, internet searches and personal assistants. As AI technologies multiply, it will become imperative that small business owners “get on board” to have the best chance to maintain their competitive edge. Your first action should be understanding exactly what AI is.


What is AI?

In a nutshell, AI is the ability for software to understand the world around it and interpret it into data so it can act. AI can listen to you, watch you and see what’s going on—performing intelligence operations like a human but artificially. Two other terms to understand are generative AI and large language models.

  • Generative AI means you’re asking an AI model a question or asking it to do something and it’s giving you a response. ChatGPT is the best example of generative AI—you can ask it to do things such as write a blog post, compose an email, provide advice or create an itinerary.
  • Large language models (LLMs) are basically databases that include a bunch of information that’s tagged and structured in such a way that you can ask it question after question and train it to start giving you answers and predict outcomes. Open AI’s ChatGPT (owned by Microsoft) is an LLM. All large companies are developing LLMs and many of them, including Google, Meta and Amazon, already have them.


Why You Need an AI Policy

With AI getting more widely used, it’s important to have a policy in place that outlines how it will be used in your business. Things to clarify include:

  • Which employees can and cannot use AI in their work
  • Which types of work AI can be applied to, i.e., manual work, managerial work, scientific work, engineering work, customer-facing work, internal work, etc.
  • What uses of AI are acceptable, i.e., by the marketing department, HR, design department, estimating department, etc.


Since things are moving so quickly, an AI policy may need to be updated two or three times a year; it won’t be carved in stone but needs to evolve with the technology. And if you’re stumped as to how to get started with a policy, try AI—the free version of ChatGPT—which can write an AI policy that can be customized for your business’s specific needs.


Talk to Your Software Vendor


Since AI is just a software development tool, software vendors are in the process of embracing its capabilities and incorporating it into their applications. As a business owner, you should find out what new features are coming that incorporate AI, how they can be used, if there is training available and what the setup process is. The goal should be to leverage the tools your software vendor provides you to make the most of its productivity value—which hopefully minimizes overhead and makes employees as productive as possible.


The Bottom Line

AI is going nowhere. It’s going to be a more and more important part of every aspect of our lives, including your small business. To ensure your business remains competitive, you need to familiarize yourself with AI, create a policy for your business and talk to your software vendor to learn what it’s doing to incorporate AI into its offerings. The future is here and you don’t want it to pass you by.


Clear Skies Capital has embraced AI and is happy to help your small business do it too—along with determining the business loan that’s best for you so you can get the financing you need in a timely fashion. Contact us today at 800-230-9822 to discuss your company’s needs.