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How AI is Helping Self-Employed Workers

When you are self-employed or an entrepreneur, you often have to take on several roles to run your business, which can take you away from your primary job.

Now, artificial intelligence (AI) can handle some of those tasks. It can act as an employee or assistant that doesn’t need a salary and give you more time to grow your business. So, what tasks could you get AI to do right away so you can be more productive?

What can AI do for you?

As a self-employed worker, it’s not easy for you to become an expert in every business function you require. Although AI is not perfect, its capacity for handling and interpreting data can make it an expert in almost anything. It can also learn if you provide it with new information, quickly finding critical information and insights.

You can use AI-powered software for customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and accounting. ChatGPT, Bard, or Copilot can do anything from brainstorming ideas to creating marketing plans. Business owners can also use off-the-shelf or custom-created AI chatbots to look after customers. The list is almost endless!

Automate repetitive tasks

AI can complete all kinds of repetitive tasks, such as data entry, scheduling, writing product descriptions or ads, and handling emails.

Provide customer support

Generative AI chatbots can chat with customers and answer questions in an engaging, human-like way. They can understand context and the nuances of human conversation, improving customer service experiences.

These chatbots can highlight issues that need human assistance and schedule a call for you. They can also upsell to customers and qualify leads.

For a self-employed worker, the benefit of having a customer service assistant available on demand at all times is immense. Plumbers or electricians, for example, can use bots to take customer calls while they are out completing scheduled jobs.

Create marketing materials and campaigns

If you are self-employed or building a business, you need to spend much of your time on activities that make money, such as serving customer needs or selling products. To maintain business momentum, you have to keep up sales and marketing efforts, but these can fall by the wayside when you are busy on the job.

AI can build marketing and social media plans, create content, and publish it. It’s like having a marketing assistant at the office focusing on generating new business.

Brainstorm and research

A self-employed business day can be lonely. There’s no team with whom you can brainstorm and bounce around ideas and solutions. AI can step into this gap by discussing ideas with you. It can suggest improvements and provide valuable insights on a given topic in seconds.

Provide industry and competitor insights

AI also makes a great research assistant. It draws from extensive historical data sets, and the latest AI tools can swiftly search the web.

Quick voice queries to ChatGPT or a similar platform can provide extensive insights into industry challenges and trends. AI can also find out what your competitors are up to by scanning many websites and publications in seconds.

Track customers and help with sales

Customer management and sales systems now use AI to track your customer actions and history without your needing to record notes or activities manually. AI can monitor calls, record summaries, and track customer interactions by phone or social media. It can tell you if you haven’t contacted a customer recently.

This new technology can also manage sales pipelines and prospective customers, prioritizing sales opportunities that will likely lead to new business.

Help with forecasting and financials

Cash flow management is critical for a self-employed worker, but there’s little time in an active workday to record receipts, track spending, and monitor your budget. AI tools are able to do this for you, providing real-time insights into cash flow to keep your income and spending on track. These cost-effective tools can also assist with yearly budgets and forecasts, as well as prepare tax information.

Write a business plan

Creating a business plan is a substantial and often stressful task unless you happen to be a self-employed financial or business writer or an accountant. AI tools can provide a business plan template and then help you generate the information to build your strategy. You could ask ChatGPT:

  • How do I calculate the return on investment for a machinery purchase?
  • How do I set myself apart from competitors in my local market?
  • What’s the average annual marketing spend for my business size and type?
  • How many customers will I need each week to break even in my first year?

For all of these prompts, it’s also good to provide background information on your business and local marketplace. The more you tell and instruct AI, the more relevant and accurate its response will be.

Advice on cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is another complex but critical business area, and AI can support you by providing insights on risks, regulations, and appropriate actions. AI-powered cybersecurity platforms can automate this function for your business.

Optimize supply chains or delivery routes

AI is also good at planning and scheduling. It takes just seconds to analyze maps and plan routes, and it can provide time and fuel estimates. If you’re looking for new suppliers, AI can identify companies, assess them, and even contact them for quotes.

Handle scheduling and time management

AI can build a new time management plan based on a busy week’s challenges and can continuously update your schedule.

Say you’re a plumber. You can have an AI chatbot on your website to take customer inquiries. You can train the bot on what kinds of jobs you can do and in which area, estimates of cost and time per job, and your availability. It can then take customer calls and schedule work for you.

Will AI displace any self-employed jobs?

Research from the University at Buffalo School of Management in 2019 found that low-paid self-employed jobs, such as independent salespeople, drivers, and agriculture and construction workers, were most at risk of being displaced by artificial intelligence.

However, according to new research in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs Report 2023, physical and manual jobs are no longer expected to be the ones most at risk of being taken over by machines. The change may be due to advances in generative AI with tools like ChatGPT, rather than robotics and self-driving vehicles. Generative AI can’t do physical work, but it can do administrative, writing, marketing, and customer service tasks.

The WEF says that jobs that rely on human skills such as judgment, creativity, physical dexterity, and emotional intelligence are unlikely to be replaced by AI. It predicts that, as a result, the highest job growth between 2023 and 2027 will be for:

Skills that will be in demand in the near future include:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Empathy and active listening
  • Leadership and social influence
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