AI is not optional for small businesses in the modern world - Richard Dickson

Online research is a part of daily life these days. No longer do we rely on physical word of mouth, rather depending upon the advice and recommendations of peers in online communities, where online presence and testimonials are the key factors when making any significant purchases.

Consumers are now taking more interest in company activity on social media, too.

The first port of call whenever a consumer hears about a business, big or small, is to look them up online. A successful online presence for an enterprise of any size improves visibility to search engines, makes purchasing decisions easier for customers, and increases customer loyalty and satisfaction,

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If a company is active and if they respond to people’s questions and complaints, it’s reassuring, but if their feed is empty or they don’t post regularly, it’s as good as saying that they’re closed, and they will struggle to build and grow their brand.

​Ai can maintain an active, worthwhile online presence for you – saving time and money (Picture:​Ai can maintain an active, worthwhile online presence for you – saving time and money (Picture:
​Ai can maintain an active, worthwhile online presence for you – saving time and money (Picture:

It should be extremely clear for any business, from a simple internet search, what services they do and don’t offer, or how they respond to customer feedback.

What does this mean for small or start-up businesses, that so often fight to survive on small profit margins where a few gained or lost customers can make a huge difference?

Maintaining an active, worthwhile online presence requires at least 20-30 hours a week, which is a huge investment in time and wages to attempt to take on.

How can a small business afford to run social media on that scale? The short answer is they can’t, and most who try to do it manually end up with a sporadic, poor quality online presence.

Richard DicksonRichard Dickson
Richard Dickson

Too often, they give up altogether, frustrated by the lack of engagement and response they’re seeing for their business compared to the effort put in. That’s where artificial intelligence comes in.

Generative AI exists not just to schedule social media posts but to write them for your business; not just to facilitate engagement but to respond to customers and clients on your behalf.

The savings that I have seen from the use of AI in my business have been around £200,000, with some of our client businesses even doubling their profits from reduced overheads and increased revenues.

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The cost of these AI tool subscriptions? Less than £1000 annually and even if that investment is dauting, there are free or relatively inexpensive AI tools out there that any business, however small, can take advantage of.

It’s not just the financial cost that has lowered in recent years: the know-how needed has also been significantly reduced. Businesses designing AI systems have made them as user-friendly as possible to build their own revenue, so they’re easier than ever for anyone to use.

There is one final objection that many business leaders have against the use of AI: the “I pay you to do it, not a computer” mentality.

The notion that employees are not working as hard as they should be if they find ways to automate their work is frankly outdated; I get 50 per cent more productivity from my team because of their AI training, not in spite of it.

Put simply, AI is not optional for small businesses in the modern world.

In 10 years time, there will be businesses that integrated AI into their work, and businesses that failed because they didn’t have the imagination or courage to move with the times.

It’s an easy practice to adopt, it requires small investment in both money and effort, and it has the possibility of significantly benefiting your business.

Richard Dickson is an entrepreneur and founder of the Young Entrepreneur Society



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