Driven by need and innovation, the local entrepreneurial landscape is undergoing massive changes with a significant surge in the number of people engaging in side hustles.
One in three South Africans have more than one source of income, according to the UNISA Household Financial Wellness Index. This trend, catalysed by the normalisation of working from home and economic uncertainties, is not just a means for extra income. It is a gateway to what could potentially be full-scale businesses, contributing significantly to job creation and economic growth.
The journey of entrepreneurship, particularly in managing side hustles, is riddled with challenges, however. The tedious and time-consuming tasks of administration, such as invoicing and tax compliance, can be overwhelming. Additionally, balancing a side hustle with a regular job demands exceptional time management skills.
This is where artificial intelligence (AI) now enters the scene as a game-changer.
AI comes a-callin’
The rapid evolution of AI in entrepreneurship is reshaping business operations and problem-solving across industries. In South Africa, the AI market is expected to reach a staggering R55-billion in 2024, signifying its growing importance and impact on the GDP.
Despite initial apprehension regarding AI replacing human jobs, it is crucial to recognise the immense potential AI holds in enhancing operational efficiency and output quality. Harvard Business Review outlines three key ways AI supports businesses: automating processes, offering data-driven insights, and enhancing customer engagement. These benefits, while tailored for larger enterprises, are equally applicable to side hustles.
AI tools like Otter.ai provide real-time transcription for meetings, ensuring comprehensive capture of discussions and implementation of notes. Invoicing software powered by AI, such as Aavenir, simplifies financial administration by tracking payments across various projects. While ChatGPT, a popular AI tool, should be used cautiously, it is invaluable for drafting templates and sparking creative ideas.
For gig workers, understanding market demands and client preferences is crucial. Tools like Hootsuite offer valuable data analytics for social media managers, enabling informed content and platform strategies.
AI-driven email software and SEO optimization tools (such as iContact, Tableau, and Clearscope) facilitate efficient client communication and enhance online visibility, attracting the right audience for your services.
Incorporating AI tools into your entrepreneurial journey is an opportunity not to be missed. It is a chance to free up valuable time, focus on producing higher-quality work, and achieve the elusive balance between your day job and your side hustle.
So how do you start? Do not let the complexities of managing a side hustle deter you. Begin by researching and identifying AI tools that cater to your specific business needs. This could include software for automating administrative tasks, analysing market trends, or improving customer engagement.
Implement AI solutions to manage time-consuming tasks like scheduling, invoicing, and email management. This will free up more time for you to focus on core business activities. It is critical to use AI-driven analytics tools to gather and interpret market data. This will help you understand industry trends, customer preferences, and competitive dynamics, enabling you to make informed business decisions.
In terms of doing daily business, leverage AI-powered chatbots or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems to provide personalised service to your clients. This will improve client satisfaction and loyalty.
When it comes to marketing, use AI tools for marketing automation, such as targeted advertising, content creation, and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This will help you reach your audience more effectively and grow your customer base.
And who needs a CFO in a small business? Apply AI for financial forecasting and budgeting. This will aid in better financial planning and resource allocation.
My best advice is to stay updated with the latest AI advancements and continuously adapt these technologies to suit your evolving business needs. This will keep you ahead in the competitive market and ensure that your use of AI adheres to legal and ethical standards, especially regarding data privacy and security.
This guest column was written by Kerushan Govender, founder and CEO of Blacfox. Blacfox is a marketing strategy consultancy focussed primarily on the tech sector serving some of the world’s largest brands like Microsoft, SAP, VMware, and LexisNexis. Kerushan Govender on LinkedIn.