Time equals money. That is, less time futzing around with startup and administrative tasks equals more money in your pocket.

If you’re starting a small service business, moving at a breakneck pace through planning, launch, and early growth gives you a good chance at long-term success. But how can you speed up your operation without spending heaps of cash on more staff or outsourcing? The answer: artificial intelligence.

No longer just a fantastical element of killer robot movies, AI has become a genuinely useful business tool that can take time-consuming duties off your shoulders, accelerating your enterprise and freeing you up to do what you do best: making bank providing great service to your clients. 

Let’s take a look at what killer robo—I mean AI tools for small business can do for you.

What is artificial intelligence?

At this time, artificial intelligence is probably still years or decades away from being smart and creative in the same way that humans are. But AI technology has progressed to the point where software can use a small amount of input and some context from the internet to create solutions and perform tasks that would normally eat up a bunch of your time. So, rather than a thinking and learning computer brain, current AI tech is more like software that is better at predicting and performing what your business needs to grow.

Types of small business artificial intelligence tools

If you weren’t aware that AI is widely available as consumer software, you’ll be baffled by the sheer variety of tools on the market. Accounting, human resources, customer support, analytics tracking…the list goes on and on. But for a small business, you’ll find that some categories are more useful than others when you’re just starting out. 

So, we’ve trimmed the fat for you, leaving just the meaty AI goodness that is going to help you launch and market your small business as fast as humanly/computerly possible. Here’s a roundup of tools that use artificial intelligence for small business.

AI website builders

Probably the most important part of your fledgling business infrastructure is your website. It’s your home base, the place where many of your customers will first learn about your services, and the spot where you send traffic from everywhere else, like email, social media, etc. So it’s critical that you get your website online fast, even before you’re ready to start making sales. Amazingly, you can use an AI small business website maker to help you build it.

If you already have some experience building a website, there are tools that can help you move faster through the process. Fronty converts images into code, which still requires a lot of legwork but it takes one step out. And uizard can do a similar trick with hand-drawn sketches, although you still need to know how to lay out a user-friendly web page.

But what if you’re a website n00b or someone without the time to learn any code or design best practices? No problem, there are tools that will literally build you an entire website with some input from you, no design or coding necessary. The big daddy is probably Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)—it’s well-known because Wix has been around for ages as a drag-and-drop website builder and host. And while it does use some AI to help you through the process, to get a really great result you still need to know something about web design and be willing to spend time working on it before and after the AI does its thing. A similar tool is Jimdo, which asks for quite a bit of information up front before you end up with a website.

Another high-profile utility is Unbounce, which is a reliable tool that is mostly intended for building campaign-specific landing pages, rather than full websites that you’ll stick with for a longer time while your business grows. And then there is 10web, which asks you to give it the address of a website that you like so its AI can copy it, then you have to customize it. Not only is this labor-intensive, it’s also legally questionable from a copyright perspective.

The truth is, if you want to get your site online as fast as possible, with the least amount of work, you need to try the AI website builder from Durable. With the bare minimum of input from you, Durable’s AI small business website builder goes to work writing copy, sourcing images, and choosing colors and fonts, then assembles them into a unique site that fits within web design best practices. It’s free, it only takes 30 seconds, and unlike most of the other tools on this list, you don’t even have to enter your email address to get access to your finished site. It’s a glimpse at what the future of website creation is going to look like.

If you're interested in how to best use an AI website builder to get up and running, this'll give you the skinny.

Email marketing

Once you’ve got your website done and dusted, it’s time to set up your communications channels. Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach new clients, and the email format gives you the opportunity to share multimedia messages of almost any length. 

Tools like AWeber offer a more or less comprehensive email marketing platform that allows you to automate email campaigns using AI. If you already have an email marketing system in place, you can also try Seventh Sense, which is an AI add-on for platforms like Hubspot and Marketo.

Social media management

The social media landscape is a noisy, disorganized, horrible spot to hang out. Yet somehow it’s still the place many of your customers will come from. Fortunately, you can take a lot of the sting out of social media marketing and management with AI tools.

Chatfuel, ManyChat, and other tools with “chat” in their names can help, you guessed it, chat with your followers on your social channels. Engaging with your audience is extremely important but it can be time consuming and take place at hours of the day that may not be ideal for you. These natural language processing (NLP) utilities can take some of that burden off your shoulders.

There are also other applications that can help you figure out what to post based on trends happening in real time. This is called social listening. Mention is one such tool that can monitor what is going on online, then assist you in capitalizing on existing momentum, which is way faster than spending all your time on Facebook hunting trends.

And if your business would benefit from a truly robust social presence on multiple channels and you’d like to manage it all from one place with built-in AI utilities, a social media platform like Hootsuite might be for you.

Writing tools

Okay great, you’ve got your website set up, your channels are open, now you need to start posting content that captures the attention of potential customers and drives them to your site with open wallets. Don’t worry if you’re not a great writer, AI is here to bail you out.

If you’re fine with composing a draft and just need some help with grammar and making it flow, you can use Grammarly or Wordtune to hone your writing. Working with these AI tools is even likely to make you a better, faster writer over time.

If you’d rather have an AI do all the work, there are applications that can write you entire blog posts or web content with varying levels of input. Try out NeuralText, Jasper, or Longshot, but be sure to read the output before posting to make sure it’s correct and makes sense.

Competition Analysis

As a small business entrepreneur, it’s essential that you understand your competition. Competitive analysis allows you to hone your messaging, service offerings, and target audiences so that you can find customers without wasting time and money. Services like Crayon can identify new opportunities, track market trends, and gather data on competition, giving you a head start in the race for success. 

Bonus Tools

Not every small business owner will need these types of tools but they might come in handy and save a lot of time, money, and hassle.

  • AI logo creators: LogoAI, Tailor Brands, and Brandmark can quickly develop a logo for your small business. However, since the process requires a significant amount of input from you, they are a bit more like “AI choose your own adventure” rather than true artificial intelligence.
  • AI video makers: Synthesia and Gliacloud approach video creation in different ways but both allow you to dispense with a studio, cameras, microphones, and even actors. These could be useful for quick generation of product or service marketing videos.
  • AI design: It will be a while before AI can replace the creativity and ingenuity of a human designer, but apps like Canva can help you create beautiful brochures, business cards, and ads, quickly and for a minimal cost.

How to take advantage of AI tools

If you’re already a great writer, maybe you don’t need AI writing assistance but social listening could be hugely beneficial when trying to come up with topics to write about. Likewise, if you happen to have some website creation experience (or none at all), an AI website builder like Durable can be very useful for testing concepts and getting your operation up and running super fast. The key with AI tools is to slot them into your business in the places where you need the most help or need to save significant time. 

We’re still years away from having an artificially intelligent personal assistant who can set up every aspect of your small business. But there are some great AI tools out there that can really speed up the startup process. Just make sure you get that website built first.