How AI can help you start a business on a budget
Are you considering starting a new business and don’t know where to start? By tapping into the capabilities of generative AI, you can build a new online business on your own without having to pay consultants or sign up for small business training.
AI tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney (and other generative AI like Jasper, DALL-E, and Google’s Bard) can help you make more online for less by assisting you with all the steps you need to create a small business. They can help you generate ideas, business names, and domains. It can help you brainstorm logo designs and write prompts for image generators. Generative AI can even assist you with writing business plans, marketing strategies, and social media campaigns.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can use AI to generate ideas for a new online business and plan it out, all without spending a fortune.
10 steps to use generative AI to plan a business
To demonstrate the power of AI to help build a business concept, I used ChatGPT’s GPT 3.5 default setting to help me discover a new business idea and plan the steps to make it a reality. Here’s my process to go from a vague concept to a complete business idea, with name, domain, marketing strategy, logo ideas, and more.
1. Brainstorm a new business concept
AI tools can be used to come up with niches that have the potential to make money online. You can start broad, asking ChatGPT to help brainstorm business ideas in a particular field or industry.
For example, let’s pretend I want to start an online business involving some aspect of AI, but I don’t have a computer science background. To get started, I asked ChatGPT for relevant fields I might consider for a new business, given that limitation. The AI suggested the following:
- Image and Video Analysis
- Natural Language Processing (NLP)
- Business Intelligence
- Predictive Modeling
- Voice Recognition
- Recommender Systems
From there, I asked ChatGPT for ideas for an online business in one of those fields that won’t require a lot of coding. Of several options, the idea I liked best (based on ‘recommender systems’), was to build a business around personalized fashion recommendations for online shopping.
So let’s see how I can use AI to build this business concept.
2. Come up with a new company name and domain
Now that I’ve decided to focus on fashion recommendations, I need a name and associated domain for this business.
For this pretend business, I’ve decided my target customers will be wealthy millennial men who hate shopping but want to look stylish and trendy. Based on that simple target audience, here are five business names ChatGPT suggested to me:
- The Style Concierge
- Personal Style Co.
- Style Genius
- The Modern Gent
- LuxeStyle Solutions
Of these names, I liked Style Genius the best. But a brand is only as good as its domain, so I asked for a list of possible domains available at Namecheap.com. These were the domains it recommended:
Remarkably, ChatGPT knew that stylegenius.com wasn’t available, so it offered other options.
3. Add a slogan
What’s a name without a catchy slogan or tagline? Now that I had a name, I turned to ChatGPT for slogans for Style Genius, and it gave me a list of ten options. Unable to decide, I asked the AI which might best appeal to my imaginary ideal persona, a 30-year-old man who likes computer games, works at an engineering firm, and enjoys going out for nice dinners. It gave reasons why three of the slogans would best fit that demographic, with this being my favorite:
“Unleash your style potential with Style Genius” – This slogan is more aspirational and emphasizes the idea of unlocking one’s style potential. It might appeal to someone who is interested in exploring fashion and finding their unique style, and who values personal growth.
I chose this one because I thought the aspirational nature best fit my target audience. As a bonus, the text here would be great for my business mission statement and could inspire my website landing page copy.
4. Design a logo
Now that I have a business concept, name, slogan, and domain, I need a logo for business cards and a website.
For logo concepts, ChatGPT offered a number of suggestions, but the actual prompts it provided weren’t specific enough and, by themselves, didn’t get me very far. Instead, I used some of the concepts it gave me to build out my own prompt. (Another alternative would have been to use Namecheap’s LogoMaker.)
The Midjourney prompt I ended up using was:
simple line art drawing of a man trying on stylish clothing to use for a logo. Should be black and white and futuristic, with empty background --v 5
After a few rounds, the images Midjourney gave me weren’t really good enough to use as a logo on their own but might provide a great starting point for a graphic designer, which will save a lot of time (and keep costs down).
5. Make a list of possible products or services
Now it’s time to focus on the details of this new business. I asked ChatGPT for products and services that I could offer with Style Genius. Keep in mind that ChatGPT will remember the information from the previous queries within a given chat session, so I didn’t have to provide any specific details.
In addition to personalized fashion recommendations, which would be the core business offering, it had several other recommendations for the business. It suggested virtual wardrobe management, styling advice and consultations, subscription boxes with curated clothing items, and shopping concierge services, helping busy men with their shopping needs.
All of these ideas would fit in well with a service that provided fashion services to busy millennial men, making them worth considering as part of the business model.
6. Website content
To get started with the blog, I asked for five blog titles that would help establish the brand and bring the site strong SEO.
- “Unlocking Your Style Potential: How AI is Revolutionizing Personalized Fashion Recommendations”
- “5 Ways Style Genius is Making it Easier for Busy Men to Dress Stylishly”
- “Fashion Advice from the Pros: Expert Tips and Tricks for Building a Wardrobe You Love”
- “The Benefits of a Personal Stylist: Why Style Genius is the Future of Fashion”
- “From Concept to Launch: How ChatGPT and Midjourney Helped Us Build Style Genius from Scratch”
I won’t lie — the last one made me chuckle. But if this were a real website, a blog post like that would be a great traffic generator, so it was actually a great suggestion.
7. Marketing strategy
When asked for a marketing strategy, it defined the target market as follows:
“The target market for Style Genius is tech-savvy and fashion-conscious millennial men who value convenience and quality. The marketing strategy will focus on reaching this target market through social media advertising, email marketing, and influencer partnerships.”
It then provided me with details about social media advertising, email marketing, influencer partnerships, and a referral program for the business.
8. Social media campaigns
Thinking that customers of my fictional business might not use Facebook or Instagram, I asked ChatGPT for alternatives to standard social media. It suggested focusing on niche platforms such as LinkedIn and Reddit. It also recommended working with influencers and partnerships, as well as providing product reviews and targeted advertising using job titles, interests, and online behavior.
Going deeper, I asked ChatGPT for an appropriate subReddit for this business, and it suggested r/malefashionadvice. Then, when I asked for a sample LinkedIn post, it offered the following:
“Attention busy and fashion-conscious professionals! Are you tired of spending hours shopping for clothes and putting together outfits? Let Style Genius take the hassle out of fashion. Our personalized fashion recommendation service provides you with stylish and effortless outfits that are tailored to your preferences. Get started today and unleash your style potential with Style Genius!”
Other things it could do to assist with social media might be to provide a calendar of posts, write captions for social media images that I could create using Namecheap’s Stencil, analyze my social media metrics, identify influencers, and build advertising campaigns.
Another way I could incorporate AI into my social media strategy would be to use Namecheap’s RelateSocial, which brings AI into content creation, allowing me to build social campaigns without using a separate platform.
9. Competitive analysis
Whenever you start a new business, you need to know who your competitors are and how you fit into the market. With this in mind, I needed to figure out what Style Genius could offer that’s different, better, less expensive, or would otherwise appeal to my target audience.
When I asked ChatGPT for a list of competitors in the US, it gave me the names of five established companies that provide similar services, including Stitch Fix and The Black Tux. From there, I asked the AI for some suggestions on how I could stand out in this market, and it suggested using AI-powered styling recommendations (which was the starting point for this business idea, after all!), providing customized styling services, emphasizing convenience, and focusing on eco-friendly and sustainable fashion.
When I asked for more specifics on how AI could help with those points, it provided more details, noting, for example, that AI can analyze vast amounts of customer data, such as purchase history, browsing behavior, and style preferences, to generate personalized styling recommendations that are tailored to each customer’s individual tastes and preferences.
10. Monetization strategies
Finally, I realized that if this were to become a real business, I would need ways to make some quick revenue with minimal investment, just to get things started. When asked for ideas, ChatGPT had my back.
It suggested commission-based affiliate partnerships, where Style Genius could partner with existing retailers and earn commissions based on sales made through the service. It also provided ideas for a subscription-based revenue model, where the business could charge a recurring fee for personalized fashion recommendations, and sponsored content and advertising on the website to fashion and lifestyle brands looking to reach Style Genius’s target market.
How did the AI do?
All in all, I was very pleased with the process. I asked ChatGPT questions in normal English, exactly like I might have asked a business coach or consultant. If the answers weren’t detailed enough at each stage, a quick follow-up gave me more than enough information to get started.
The one area where it faltered was when suggesting logo ideas and Midjourney prompts, but it might have improved with GPT-4. And even then, I got some good ideas that I could pursue if I were so inclined.
I also didn’t ask for actual website content, but if I wanted to, I could use ChatGPT to help write landing pages and blog content. Knowing that this kind of AI-generated content isn’t particularly good, as it sounds stiff and inauthentic, I would probably use its title suggestions and perhaps outlines but do the actual writing myself.
Overall, though, the process was simple and rather quick, and when I went back the next day for a couple of follow-up questions in the same chat window, it was ready to go. The fact that it remembers all of the conversations up to that point is really handy.
However, ChatGPT can be glitchy and may erase (or at least temporarily hide) previous conversations, and there is a limit to the number of queries. If you were using this for a real business, I’d recommend saving the content in a Google Doc or elsewhere, just in case.
Are you ready to start your next business?
If you’re ready to dive in and make more online for less, you’ll need a free account on Open AI and ChatGPT, or alternately, access to Google’s Bard or a paid AI such as Jasper.ai (for this project, Bing may not work as its interface is too limited). You don’t need ChatGPT Plus, although having it will give you priority access during busy times as well as access to GPT-4, the somewhat improved language model.
From there, check out Namecheap’s guides on creating a website, the importance of branding, and our blog on how to start a business in a week. You might also check out our previous blog on innovative ways to use ChatGPT in your business.
Have you used AI to help you plan a new business or build upon an existing one? Let us know in the comments!