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How I'm Scaling My Business with AI: The Exact Tools, Tactics, and Prompts

Learn this scaling strategist’s best practices for integrating AI into your small business operations in a way that will save you time instead of adding more work.

Jun 27, 2024 6 min readSmall Business
Photo of Crista Grasso
Crista Grasso

Founder of Lean Out Method and Strategic Ops Institute

My purpose as a business owner is to help other small businesses scale in simple and sustainable ways. So, when there is a new technology that I think can help entrepreneurs get more done in less time, reduce their expenses, and increase their profitability, I am 100 percent for it.

I see AI as being one of those technologies that can dramatically help businesses streamline and scale.

But I’m also a big believer in avoiding shiny object syndrome and not jumping on every new trend simply because it’s there. There’s so much hype around AI, and it’s causing many business owners to misuse it in ways that end up taking more of their time instead of less.

I’ve spent the past year figuring out the best ways to integrate artificial intelligence into my business and those I support in my Simplify to Scale program. 

Through experimentation, I’ve found ways AI tools can:

  • Reduce operational complexity
  • Improve client experience and retention
  • Amplify sales and increase conversions
  • Save the cost of at least one full-time team member
  • Help me get back a full day of time per week

Below, I dig into the best practices any business can use to integrate AI in smart, strategic ways.

Identify ways to plug AI into what you’re already doing

The possibilities with AI seem endless right now, but that means it can be easy to try to do too much and not have it actually add value. 

The worst way to approach AI is to look at all the available tools or all the ways other people are using it and try to implement those into your business without a clear reason to do so.

Instead, you’ll see the most impact by asking yourself: How can AI help me simplify, streamline, amplify, or automate what I’m already doing? When you look at what you do day-to-day to run your business and ask yourself, “How can I do this better, faster, or cheaper by leveraging AI?” you’ll find solutions that help you get back your time and increase your profit margin. 

This is especially true if you start with tasks that drain the most time and energy from your team. For example, my Simplify to Scale program has a robust library of resources available to help participants scale their business, and while immensely valuable, clients would often need support finding the best template or toolkit to use based on their goals. 

My team realized that they were spending a lot of time fielding questions that were already answered in the course content. We found an AI tool called Searchie Wisdom that allows you to create a custom chatbot using your own content. Using this, I was essentially able to clone myself. 

Clients can ask questions, and the bot will answer as I would using the exact terminology I use in my content, and also direct people to the place in the program materials where I cover that topic in detail. This saved my team 20 hours a month and improved client experience.

If you look at your daily business tasks, most things can be enabled by AI. Start there.

Look for ways AI can help you add new capabilities (that will actually benefit your business)

Once you’ve tackled what AI can do to streamline your current operations, then you can ask how it can help you add new capabilities that you wouldn't have time or money to do otherwise.

But, again, I would caution against looking at everything AI can do and trying to shoehorn those capabilities into your business. Instead, consider strategies you’ve always wanted to implement and simply never had the capacity to try before — and ones where you can see the clear benefit to business growth.

For example, for years I’ve wanted to create a workbook that goes along with each of my Lean Out Your Business Podcast episodes. The idea was that the only way listeners could get the workbook was to be on my mailing list, and the only way the workbook would make sense to email subscribers was if they also listened to the podcast

I thought it would be a big win for cross-promotion, but my team didn’t have the capacity for it, and I didn’t want to hire someone to do it. 

When my team started using Castmagic to streamline content repurposing from my podcast, I realized I could also use the tool to automate creating a workbook for each episode.

After experimenting with some prompts to get it just right, now, instead of being a huge extra task, it takes my team about ten minutes to pull the workbook text out of the tool, plug it into a design template we’ve created, and make some slight tweaks to clean it up and ensure it sounds like me.

I saw an 11 percent growth in podcast downloads in the first 90 days of using this strategy, which has already driven new clients and revenue. I expect this will expand over time. 

What is something you’ve wanted to do for a long time and simply haven’t had the capacity? Look for ways that leveraging AI can make that feasible.

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Looking for more AI help? Here’s our guide to the best AI image generators, the best AI productivity tools, the best AI writing tools, and the best AI tools for social media content creation

Prioritize specificity in prompting

The quality of the outputs you get with AI is based on the quality of your inputs. 

Many business owners use generic prompts for things like content creation or process and SOP creation and end up with mediocre results that don’t strengthen their brand or their operations. 

For example, AI can help you quickly write playbooks and standard operating procedures (SOPs). But if you prompt it with something generic like “Write me an SOP for hiring a new employee,” it’ll create generic instructions that have no context for your business and, therefore, won’t help your team more than an online search could.  

Instead, I show business owners how to create custom GPTs that they train to understand as much of their unique business context as possible. From there, I teach how to micro-prompt and have AI ask clarifying questions so everything it creates is highly personalized and valuable. 

In the example of using AI to create SOPs, I recommend starting with a custom GPT that understands your brand. Then, I would use a prompt similar to: “I want to create an SOP for hiring a new employee. I want it to be created specifically for my brand, considering our vision and values.

Pulling from the knowledge bank combined with leading best practices for hiring a new full-time employee into a consulting business, what additional information do you need to create an SOP that is highly tailored for my brand?” 

Once I provide the information it recommends, I’d next ask it to create the SOP and specify how I want it structured, what tone of voice I want it to use, and what I want to be included versus not included. I’ll sometimes provide examples of other SOPs that have a similar structure or style to what I’m looking for.

Similarly, when using AI to help us create content that truly supports our brand, I’m mindful of not adding to the noise online with generic content that anyone could produce with AI or find in a Google search. 

This requires careful training, specific prompting, and even telling the AI what not to do and how not to respond. For example, to ensure the content we create doesn't include the same over-used and over-hyped language many AI tools commonly use, we have a long list of words or phrases we tell AI not to use.

If you want to use AI well, you have to either learn how to prompt it well or follow other business owners who share their prompts. (I share all of mine in my Simplify and Scale with AI program!) Like most things, it takes more time upfront, but it’s how you get high-value and customized outputs for your business.

Go for quality over quantity with AI tools

There are shiny new AI tools being introduced every day. If you’re not being strategic, adding new tools will keep adding to your expenses and actually make things more complex. 

Overall, I prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to adding AI tools to my business, and have a few principles that helped guide me to the right tools.

First, before paying for any new tools, I always recommend looking at the tools you already use day to day. I guarantee most of them have added some AI capabilities at this point that might be able to streamline some of those processes. 

Using the built-in AI in Miro and Monday — tools my team was already using regularly — was low-hanging fruit that simplified how we work for no extra cost. 

From there, consider the specific use cases you’re hoping to use AI for, and then ask for referrals from other business owners for tools that are helping them achieve those outcomes. 

Through this process, my team has landed on just four tools we use regularly: Searchie Wisdom for the custom chatbot in our program, Castmagic for repurposing podcast and other content, custom GPTs for just about everything including creating processes and SOPs, creating exam questions for my certification programs, and amplifying my content marketing, and Claude for turning my long-form content and brainstorms into concise and compelling copy and headlines. 

Finally, while AI is powerful, like any other technology, it needs a human behind it. I’m a big believer in an AI-enabled approach to integrating these tools rather than an AI-created approach. 

AI can't run your business, but with a few smart strategies, it sure can help you run it better.

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