A recent report from FreshBooks, a software company based in Canada, reveals that approximately 44 per cent of small business owners anticipate reducing their workforce in the future due to advancements in AI technology. However, the study also indicates that the majority of these entrepreneurs, around two-thirds, do not share concerns about AI replacing their own jobs or the jobs of their employees.
Mara Reiff, Chief Data Officer at FreshBooks said, "In the world of small business, it appears that owners don't feel particularly threatened and don't believe artificial intelligence can do their jobs just as well as they can. On the other hand, their eyes are wide open to the potential of using AI as a support to help them scale.”.
The survey conducted among approximately 1,000 small business owners across different industries in the United States and Canada revealed that nearly 25 per cent of them are presently utilizing or experimenting with generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Microsoft Bing. These findings highlight the growing adoption of AI technologies within the small business sector.
The survey indicates that a significant majority of business owners, specifically two out of three, have expressed their intention to explore and utilize generative AI for their work in the coming 12 months. This finding strongly suggests that the adoption of this technology will become widespread among small businesses within the next year.
Among the current adopters of generative AI, a substantial majority revealed that they primarily utilize the technology for text generation purposes. On the other hand, a slight majority of adopters reported using it for image generation or for conducting general business research. These findings highlight the diverse applications of generative AI within the current user base.
According to the report, when non-adopters were questioned about the reasons behind their decision not to use generative AI, it was revealed that 46 per cent of them expressed a lack of clarity regarding the potential benefits of this technology for their businesses.
The report also identified a lack of knowledge as the second most common reason for non-adoption, with 32 per cent of respondents stating that they were uncertain about how to initiate the application of generative AI in their businesses. Interestingly, larger businesses were more likely to mention a lack of time as a barrier to exploring AI compared to smaller businesses.
Furthermore, the report highlights that a majority of small business owners, specifically 60 per cent, share the belief that AI will bring about significant transformations to their businesses in the next five years. This finding underscores the widespread recognition of AI's potential impact among small business owners.
When queried about the specific areas of their business that they anticipate will be most impacted by AI in the near future, business owners identified Business Analytics, Sales & Marketing, and Customer Communications as the primary domains. Conversely, they rated the utilization of AI for HR/Recruiting and Service Delivery as less likely to play a substantial role in their operations.
Inputs from IANS