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AI and Machine Learning

5 ways every small business can get started with generative AI

March 21, 2024
Michael Brenzel

Chief Workspace Evangelist, Google Workspace

Google Workspace Newsletter

Keep up with the evolving future of work and collaboration with insights, trends, and product news.


As most of us know, small businesses are the backbone of our economies and communities — in fact, according to the World Bank, they make up more than 90% of all businesses globally. Whether it’s an established family-run business out of a storefront or an entrepreneur just starting out in their home office, most small businesses feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. How do you keep up with your customers and your employees (if you’re lucky enough to have any), while taking care of all the unexpected, daily tasks that pop up?

We recently launched Gemini Business for Google Workspace with the everyday demands of small business in mind. Gemini uses Google’s most capable AI models and it’s built right into the Workspace apps, helping you write, create visuals, get insights from your data, and accelerate projects. Today, I’m excited to share 5 different ways that you as a small business owner can get started with Gemini for Workspace.

1. Create content that you’re currently neglecting

Every small business relies on the right words and images to engage their current and future customers, whether through emails, social posts, a blog, a newsletter, or an online ad. Or maybe it’s a slide presentation for a client pitch. But finding the time to craft great stories or messaging is often a challenge. Generative AI can remove the terror of the blank page or the blinking cursor by giving you a head start.

For example, I asked Gemini in Google Docs to come up with some catchy email subject lines announcing the launch of a new organic dog food (my favorite: The Natural Pup: Unleash the Power of Nature for Your Furry Friend!). I can also ask Gemini in Google Slides to generate an image for a monthly customer newsletter:

The Natural Pup

Not bad for a total investment of a few minutes!

2. Give your customer service a personal touch

Let’s say that you’re a plumbing business and you’ve just had some bad weather that froze pipes or flooded basements in your area. Chances are good that people calling in or emailing your business are anxious and stressed. Meanwhile, you’ve only got so many plumbers who can do the work. Empathizing with frustrated customers, while also setting expectations, can help avoid call-backs and escalations down the track.

I asked Gemini in Gmail to write an email to a customer who was hoping one of our plumbers could come out today, but to explain that the appointment might be delayed a few days. That’s all I told it, and here’s what came back:


The only customization I did for this email was add a subject line, so I’d consider the few seconds it took to generate an informative and empathetic email a great investment of my time.

3. Tackle important projects in less time

Small businesses that change a neighborhood — or the world — often start in humble ways, whether it’s on the back of the proverbial napkin or in a pitch deck or a one-pager. But it’s amazing how much time you can spend creating reusable forms, lists, spreadsheets, trackers, and invoices once you get your business up and running.

Gemini in Google Sheets lets you create all kinds of project plans, tables, and trackers. When I asked it to create a project plan for developing a new blog series, it came up with a basic, helpful template:


Now I can get to work customizing the relevant info, but I’ve got a solid starting point.

4. Make meetings more meaningful — and fun

Last year I spent more than 150 days traveling for work. Sometimes that meant taking meetings in hotel lobbies and convention centers, in airports, even in the back of an Uber. In the early days of video conferencing, it was hard to look or sound professional when someone was announcing an airline departure over the PA or your mobile network/WiFi was spotty. AI — especially generative AI — has made it so much easier to have meetings on the go. When I use Gemini in Google Meet on my mobile, for example, it automatically removes background noise, infuses a call with studio-like sound and video, and even runs interference around a bad internet or cell network connection. I can sound and look like I’m ready to talk about strategy, even if I’m waiting to board my flight.

Beyond making mobile meetings better, Gemini in Meet can also help small businesses better connect with customers, partners, and employees. AI-generated custom backgrounds can be great for a theme-based going away party or to show your appreciation for a customer in a specific industry. Gemini can also make it easier to connect with teammates or customers in other countries with auto-generated real-time captions, even in multiple languages. That pitch meeting to European customers might go better if everyone could follow along in their own preferred language.


5. Streamline busywork to make time for work that matters

I’ve never met a small business owner who loves meetings and responding to emails more than engaging with or delighting their customers. But in most small businesses, the owners are so busy being pulled from one thing to another — from applying for permits and sending out billing notices to email campaigns and social media updates — that they often feel buried under a mountain of digital paperwork and a deluge of emails, texts, and chat messages. Especially in a lot of family-owned businesses, the idea of “work-life balance” can feel pretty remote.

One way generative AI can help is by providing a summary of long documents and missed messages. For example, Gemini in Google Chat summarizes conversations that happened while you were in a meeting or heads down on an important project, so you can quickly get caught up. Or let’s say that you have to wade through long proposal documents from vendors. Gemini in Google Docs can provide a summary of the proposals, so you can decide which ones are worth a closer look. Together, these capabilities mean that you can spend less time keeping up and more time for the things that matter, whether it’s launching a new product, a new menu, or making it home in time for dinner.

Generative AI doesn’t always get things right, and there’s no substitute for the ingenuity, creativity, and smarts of real people. But getting started with generative AI can help your business move beyond everyday routine tasks into things that really move the needle. My recommendation is to start small, experiment, and find the ways AI can add measurable value to your small business. As one of our Workspace customers at Trimble recently told us, generative AI in Workspace “cut the time it takes me to respond to emails in half. That’s a lot of your day that’s back for you to do something with. It makes us look like a bunch of superheroes.” That’s hard to argue with.

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