AI Tools for Startups: 5 Essential Apps to Kickstart Business

Small business startups need all the help they can get. You may think organizing a small team takes less work, but in order to see results and become successful, everyone has to pull their weight. 

For this reason, you want your team focused on the right tasks rather than taking hours creating calendars and organizing data. 

So, don’t waste any time. By incorporating AI tools into your workflows, you can have your trivial tasks automated in the background while your creative tasks are made easier with content suggestions. 

There are so many AI solutions out there for every element of your business. But first, let’s take a look at what they are and how your company can utilize them. We’ll then list our 4 best AI tools for small business startups to help kickstart your integration. 

What are AI tools?

AI tools are pieces of software that use AI technology. You can find relevant tools for just about any industry. They usually use one of the two:

Machine learning algorithmsNatural language processing (NLP)
The aim is to find patterns in data and makes predictions from themThe aim is to understand human text and languages
Focused on accuracy and pattern recognitionFocused on interactions between humans and computers
Often see it used to make recommendations based on behavior like LinkedIn’s suggested jobsOften see it used in customer service to solve queries, like chatbots

Both of these subsets of AI have huge potential in the business world. Machine learning AI can be fed huge amounts of data that humans wouldn’t be able to analyze. From this, they can advise on strategies and improvements. 

At some point, whether you like it or not, you will have to interact with clients or customers as a small business. NLP software can make this a lot easier. From suggesting the right tone to take in an email to drafting it completely. 

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that uses machine learning algorithms to create new and original content like images, videos, text, and audio.

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Why should your small business use AI?

Business owners know that streamlining repetitive tasks is the best way to become efficient, profitable, and successful. 

The threat of AI taking over jobs is a hot topic of discussion at the moment. But we need to flip the viewpoint. They’re not taking over jobs, but they can take on repetitive tasks so humans can focus on more creative assignments. 

So could AI address your business needs? Let’s take a look at some of the main areas of your company which could benefit from implementing artificial intelligence tools. 

Customer service

Everyone knows it, customer service is a drag. Even your customers think so. Who likes waiting on hold for an hour just to find an answer to a simple question? If you’re a small business, it’s unlikely you’ve got a dedicated team helping existing clients. This means, more often than not, it’s a joint effort shared across the company. But this is not always efficient. 

So, what’s the solution? Natural language processing tools can offer customer support through human-like messaging and interactions. It’s likely you’ve spoken to an AI and not even realized. These chatbots can enhance the customer experience by offering answers to common queries and directing the customer to the right area of the site or a clear tutorial to help them.

We’ve all been stuck in a loop with a bot before. And we’ve all sworn never to interact with AI again. Remember, they are super useful for easy-to-answer questions but don’t rely on them for more complex situations. Make sure your chatbot is ready to admit defeat and pass on the contact details of a real human for better customer relationship management (CRM). 

People now use 1:1 messaging apps more than they use social network apps.

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Workflows

If you want to streamline your workflows and improve your business’s functionality, then AI integrations for repetitive tasks can help you out. Often tools are free to use on a small scale, so it’s ideal for companies just starting out. 

Organizing information and visualizing it can take a while. However, inputting information into an artificial intelligence tool and asking it to organize it in a specific way will take just seconds. 

Think about constructing a content calendar, for example. You’ve got all of your posts ready, but you need to schedule them. This could take a full day, if not longer, depending on the length of your calendar. 

With AI, you could simply ask it to assign 2 posts a day from your list for the next two weeks. Now you’re ready to start the important work without being held back by time-consuming workflows. 

This is just one example. I guarantee that the next time you’re sitting at your desk thinking, ‘I don’t want to be doing this’, you’ll be able to find an AI solution.

Content creation

It’s not just the small, data-driven business operations that AI can take over. If you’re yet to scale up to a full content creation team, then consider investing in a suitable AI tool

We know content rules the business industry now. Whether that’s blogs, landing pages, video tutorials, social media posts, or infographics. It’s the best way to increase brand awareness, which is super important for startups and small businesses. 

Believe it or not, AI can be ‘creative’. Whether you want SEO-driven articles or a piece of art to feature on your social media platforms, with the right prompt, you’ll find an artificial intelligence tool that can do it all. 

A painting of a fox in a green meadow with purple flowers

Source (Made with DALL-E 2)

Marketing strategies

To take your business to the next level, you need a stellar marketing strategy. The best way to do that? Use your customer data. AI marketing focuses on personalizing your campaigns and targeting the right people can boost your brand above the competition and skyrocket your lead generation. 

AI can analyze huge amounts of data in seconds. Whether that’s existing customer behavior or target demographic behavior. From the analysis, you’ll know how to address the right audience and keep them engaged. 

Automation of your marketing campaigns can also be a huge help. For example, email prompts. Has a customer just signed up for your newsletter? Or maybe they added something to their basket and never checked out? 

Automated emails targeting these customers can nurture and lead them down the funnel to conversion. Your sales team will thank you, despite AI doing the heavy lifting.

Top 4 AI tools for small business startups

The power of AI tools for small businesses should now be becoming clear. But where do you start? There are hundreds of SaaS apps out there, and it’s difficult to know which one will suit your company. To help out, we’ve put together a list of our top 4. 

1. Jasper

Jasper is all about content creation. It’s an incredible marketing tool that can generate original SEO-focused content (search engine optimization). Here are a few of its main features:

  • Chrome extension: Jasper offers an extension on your browser, so you can get real-time AI insights when you’re writing and creating content. This can ensure you’re using the right tone of voice, your grammar is correct, and you’re getting the intended message across. 
  • Jasper chat: An easy-to-use chat interface means you can easily ask Jasper to generate anything you want in seconds. Think emails, captions, titles, and more.
  • Boss mode: Long emails, research papers, stories, and blog posts can all be written instantly. By feeding information about your company to the AI, all content can be personalized and written within your brand guidelines to ensure consistency. Use the plagiarism checker to ensure you’re creating original content. 

Jasper is the ultimate AI tool. You don’t have to worry about sticking to templates or closed-ended questions. There are no limits to what you can achieve. So what can you expect to pay

PackagePriceWord limit
Starter$40 per month35,000 words per month
Boss mode$82 per month100,000 words per month
BusinessCustom planCustom plan
Create content in 26 languages, build an AI-powered business, collaborate with your team, have fun, brainstorm new ideas.

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2. OpenAI

OpenAI is an incredibly advanced artificial intelligence tool. Backed by incredible research, GPT-4 is now up and running. Despite GPT-3 being impressive, this is the most accurate problem-solving AI out there at the moment. The company has two main pieces of software:

  • ChatGPT: This is a dialogue interface where users can ask the AI to solve issues, answer questions, write screenplays, songs, stories, and pretty much anything you can think of. It’s an incredible piece of software that has taken general knowledge and problem-solving to the next level. 
  • Dall-E 2: This subset of OpenAI generates art from prompts. You can visualize any image from your imagination by giving the software detailed instructions on what to create. 

There are endless possibilities for using OpenAI for small businesses. Here are just a few:

  • Writing blog posts 
  • Email marketing 
  • Generating article title ideas
  • Answering simple questions for research
  • Creating a visual image of a future product
  • Decision-making
  • Writing product descriptions for e-commerce

The more creatively you think, the more you’ll get out of this AI. Luckily, it’s still free to use. Without paying a penny, you can use all of the features. However, you may sometimes be stuck in a queue if it’s particularly busy. If you upgrade for $20 per month, you can expect to be the first to try out upgrades and never worry about being held back when the tool is in high demand. 

Conversation shows a message asking ChatGPT to say hello to the readers of this article. ChatGPT responds with a nice message and a brief introduction to AI tools for small business

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3. Grammarly

Sounding professional is incredibly important for a startup. Your customers need to get the right impression in order to trust you. If your content and communication are full of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and typos, it’s unlikely this will happen. 

Grammarly is a surefire way of ensuring your communication is of the highest standard. Not only does it pick up on common mistakes, but it uses NLP to analyze the sentiment behind the language you’re using. 

This isn’t just useful for contacting clients and customers. If you’re writing a message to a colleague, Grammarly will tell you what tone you’re using. This is super important to maintain positive internal communication, especially for departments like human resources.

It’s incredibly easy to use, with a chrome extension that analyzes your communication on every platform. And the free version is a great place to start. If you want to upgrade for your whole business, you can build your own plan. 

Screenshot of suggestions Grammarly has made for rewriting sentences. Shows how well the writer is doing in 4 categories: clarity, correctness, engagement, and delivery.

4. Microsoft

Microsoft has integrated AI into the majority of their tools and services, making it a one-stop-shop for small business startups. Here are a few key features:

  • Microsoft 365 Copilot: Embedded in all the Microsoft apps is Copilot. This can edit, summarize, and write alongside you. It can also create presentations from existing Word docs, draft emails, and summarize long threads so you can stay in the know. 
  • GitHub Copilot: Named as the world’s first at-scale AI developer tool, this software can turn language prompts into code suggestions, problem-solve, and run tests. It’ll make your developer’s workflow a lot quicker and easier. 
  • Microsoft Teams Premium: Never miss a moment of an important meeting with intelligent meeting recaps, live translated captions for multilingual clients, and personalized recording highlights. 
  • Microsoft Viva Sales: This element of Microsoft aims to make your sales process streamlined. From the analysis of customer data so you can nurture every lead to AI-generated emails based on data relevant to the recipient. You’ll never miss the opportunity to convert with Viva. 

This is just a snapshot of how Microsoft has incorporated AI into their software. It’s the perfect option for a small business because it takes care of every element of a company. Marketing, sales, client communication, development, and data analysis. To get an idea of the cost, you’ll have to request a quote. But you can be sure it’s a worthwhile investment. 

Start building intelligent apps with Azure AI, boost developer productivity with GitHub Copilot, revolutionize the way sellers work with Viva Sales

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5. Penfriend

Penfriend prides itself on being a tool for everyone: companies big or small, freelance writers, bloggers, SEO specialists, and anyone who writes. It specializes in providing exceptional writing, similar to hiring an in-house writer, but for smaller budgets.

Within just a few minutes, Penfriend can generate an incredibly compelling, well-written, and SEO-focused article. All you have to do is enter a topic, so you won’t waste any time crafting prompts.

For startups, a good content strategy is key. It’s the building blocks for brand awareness, generating leads, converting customers, and getting your new business out there.

But it’s expensive. Using AI-powered tools instead of in-house writers is a way to tackle this. And one incredibly valuable tool is Penfriend. So, let’s look at the pros and cons of this AI-powered writing assistant and see if it’s for you.

Pros:

  • Penfriend provides natural language prompts, so you don’t need to be an expert prompt engineer
  • It is based on 10+ years of effective content strategies that got results
  • Built by a successful content strategist
  • Uses real-time ranking insights to make sure your articles perform, helping you reach your target audience
  • Identifies opportunities to outrank competitors
  • Provides a full, detailed outline for an article that will rank
  • Suggests ‘human touches’ throughout to make the editing process quick and smooth

Cons:

  • While articles will be close to publishing level, Penfriend recommends reviewing the content beforehand
  • The free option only allows one article

Penfriend offers three different price points that suit varying needs and offer different article allowances.

  • Starter plan: $85 per month
  • Advanced plan: $212 per month
  • Premium plan: $425 per month

While priced slightly higher than other copywriting tools, it’s definitely worth it. The tool is almost equivalent to hiring an in-house writer, for a fraction of the price.

Each article is written to impeccable standards. This means you won’t even need to think about checking the spelling or grammar of the content produced.

While Penfriend doesn’t have any fact-checking capabilities yet, they have a fantastic user feedback system in place which means they’re constantly improving the tool and have great customer satisfaction. It won’t be long until we see these kinds of features!

Think of it as an AI-powered tool designed for small budgets and big goals.

Want to streamline your startup?

There are so many ways to make sure your business is as efficient and profitable as possible. And utilizing AI tools should be one of them. It’s not cheating, it’s keeping up with the competition and allowing you to focus on building your brand and scaling up. 

It’s clear that if you want it to, you can let AI take over the menial tasks in every department. But if you’re just getting started, why not try incorporating an AI platform into just one of your workflows and see how it affects the team? 

You’ll soon know whether it’s right for you, and there’ll always be an element of trial and error when it comes to choosing the right tool. 

If you want to find out about more artificial intelligence apps, browse through our categories to choose the perfect one for you.