By Lesa Seibert, NAWBO National Board member, chair of National Technology Committee, member of NAWBO Kentucky and CEO of Mightily
The intersection of artificial intelligence and public policy has been in the news lately. Last month, President Biden issued an executive order on AI that, among other things, will provide entrepreneurs with access to technical assistance and resources. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has launched a series of AI Insight Forums to discuss the intersection of AI and innovation, workforce and intellectual property issues. And the AI Safety Summit held in London earlier this month resulted in the Bletchley Declaration, one of the first international accords recognizing the significant benefits and potential risks of AI across every area of society, including business. As the governance of AI takes shape around the globe, it is essential that policymakers take into account its benefits to women business owners.
AI is emerging as a powerful tool to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs. From enabling informed decisions to streamlining business operations, AI is proving to be a game-changer for women entrepreneurs in terms of running and growing their businesses. Indeed, a recent survey by Constant Contact found 91 percent of respondents said AI has made their companies more successful, and more than a quarter (28%) of those respondents expected it to save them at least $5,000 over the next year.
Women business owners have historically faced a unique set of challenges, including limited access to capital, markets and opportunity. For example, a survey commissioned by NAWBO in partnership with Intuit QuickBooks last year found almost half of respondents said extra funding would have the greatest impact on their business today, if they could get it.
But AI has the potential to disrupt these barriers and open up new pathways to success. Women business owners can use AI-powered tools to save time and money, an invaluable commodity when juggling a business and family life. AI can streamline and automate basic tasks such as inventory management, invoicing, social media, financial management and marketing, leaving women business owners with more resources to focus on growing their businesses. Tools like Notion allow women business owners to centralize all their work in one place, manage projects and optimize processes. Others like Planful help women business owners run certain financial aspects of their business, from finance and accounting to sales and marketing.
AI platforms are helping women business owners make informed business decisions with data-driven insights. AI is capable of quickly analyzing large sets of data and identifying patterns that a human might miss. Women business owners can use this capability to optimize inventory, price products, or identify customer preferences—all without the need for deep technical expertise.
Women business owners are also utilizing AI platforms to navigate global markets. Language translation, cultural insights and market analysis provided by AI are helping women business owners tap into international opportunities that were once difficult to access. For example, research has shown eBay’s machine translation service to have increased exports on the platform by 10.9 percent. Importantly, the International Trade Commission has found small businesses that export have higher total revenue growth and outperform those that do not.
The dismantling of traditional barriers, alongside the adoption of entrepreneur-supportive practices such as open-source programming, has carved out fresh opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Open-source programming is provided at no cost by a range of organizations, including corporations, nonprofit entities and governmental bodies. This approach empowers women entrepreneurs to develop innovative products, add value and address contemporary challenges through their distinct viewpoints. For instance, the female-led startup Evidently AI, hailing from San Francisco, is at the forefront of this movement, creating an open-source tool designed to assess, identify and rectify problems within machine learning models.
In conclusion, AI is playing a pivotal role in empowering women business owners by enhancing decision-making, offering resourceful solutions and unlocking new possibilities. It is incumbent upon policymakers to nurture this trajectory by extending training, resources and bolstering the support ecosystem for women embarking on the path of AI integration in business.
About the Author…
Lesa Seibert is a NAWBO National Board member, chair of the NAWBO National Technology Committee and CEO of Mightily. Mightily, founded in 2013 and based in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the region’s preeminent digital-first branding and advertising agencies and provides full-service support to local, regional and global brands in the areas of web development and technology, branding and creative services and media buying, strategy and ongoing management. She is a speaker on the topics of branding, marketing, business strategy and economic development.