If you’ve ever asked Siri a question, requested Alexa to play your favorite song, or made use of Google Assistant, then you’ve used Artificial Intelligence, or AI. Once upon a time, AI was considered 100% science fiction. In some ways it still is! But AI has come a long way from the days of movies like Blade Runner and The Terminator. Today, and for the foreseeable future, AI is here to keep machines running smoothly, alert us to danger, and, yes, turn on your playlist from anywhere in the house.
But what does this mean for you as a young entrepreneur? In what ways can AI help you plan, launch, and grow your small business? And what does this mean for your future enterprises?
AI RIGHT NOW
Here are just a few ways we interact with AI every day:
- Email spam filters
- GPS rerouting
- Personalized social media feeds
- Smart home devices
- Online shopping recommendations
- Streaming service suggestions
So, ready or not, AI is here and it’s already part of your life.
HOW AI WORKS
There are several types of AI that work in different ways. What they all have in common is that they use strings of code to create algorithms – a set order of functions – that “learn” as they go along. This means that if Google sees you start to type, “What are the best–” it will use its AI algorithms to try and predict what you will type next based on how that phrase has been finished by other searchers countless numbers of times before. It might also keep track of what else you’ve been searing for to try and predict what you are looking for. So, if you’ve been searching phrases like, “college scholarships” and “scholarships for young entrepreneurs,” autofill might offer, “What are the best college scholarships for young entrepreneurs?”
Similarly, when you visit different websites, their cookies track you as you browse the different pages and collect data such as how long you spend on each page, the time it takes between when you land on the page and when you check out (if you’re shopping), where in the world you’re searching from, and other data points. This data gets analyzed and helps companies learn where to spend their advertising dollars, how to market to certain demographics, and what needs changing on their websites. Other cookies track where you go after you click out of their site. Are you going to a competitor? Are you spending more time there? What can they do to fix that?
MAKE AI WORK FOR YOU
One reason why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so important for businesses these days is that it uses AI algorithms to bring more eyeballs to their websites. If you’re looking for “Best college scholarships for young entrepreneurs,” the Google algorithms are set to scour the internet for every word in that phrase, especially those specific words in that order.
As a small business startup, using SEO best practices to get your company noticed is a smart and easy way to make AI work for you.
Once you get your website up and running, and you’ve started to bring in some traffic, a data collector like Google Analytics can help you see what’s working – and what’s not. How are customers finding your website? What are they doing once they get there? How can you make more customers out of prospects?
Now that you have customers, the smart young entrepreneur will spend some time and energy on maintaining your best customer service. A fast and easy way to keep your business in your customers’ minds is through an automated social media app. This AI allows you to write posts ahead of time so that you don’t spend all day Tweeting about your latest awesome product.
As your business continues to grow and reach an even wider audience, maybe you’ll consider setting up a chatbot to automate help for customers. This works particularly well if you find yourself answering the same few questions repeatedly.
THE FUTURE OF AI FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS LIKE YOU
Now that you’ve seen some of the benefits of AI and how it can work for you and your small business startup, what about the future? Right now, young entrepreneurs are full of potential and are the business leaders the world will be following soon enough!
First, AI will continue to streamline workflow for businesses, from tracking consumer habits to shipping products. As you move forward in your entrepreneurial career, it might be wise to learn how to track and interpret the data collected from your website’s cookies. It’s also a good idea to have at least a basic idea of how AI works and what it can do.
Second, think about some of the tasks required to run your business. Is there anything that can be automated, such as daily reminders?
Third, there’s no rule saying you can’t invent your own AI! Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems. What are some of the common problems you see in the world around you that can easily be solved through automation or other AI?
Fourth and finally, remember that even though we’ve come very far in the world of AI, we’re still a long way from AI taking over and replacing all human jobs. At least right now, there are certain “soft skills” needed in almost every job in nearly every field. The AI doesn’t yet exist that can replace human compassion, creativity, relatability, and inspiration. When using AI, remember that it should work for you.
AI is the future of business – and so are young entrepreneurs like you! It’s there to help, not hinder, the way we work. So even if your grandparents grumble about the machine uprising or robots taking our jobs, we know you know better. And with new advances in programming and engineering every day, who knows what the AI landscape will look like once you make your first million dollars as an entrepreneur!
The Kantner Foundation is proud to offer college scholarships to Florida’s high school entrepreneurs. To learn more about our program, and to start your application, click here.