- I asked the artificial-intelligence tool ChatGPT to help me start a business.
- The chatbot’s answers were generic and lacked important details.
- But when I asked more specific questions, it catered its responses to the type of business.
Everyone’s asking ChatGPT to do something for them — which is no surprise, since artificial intelligence is expected to be a game changer for business in 2023.
If you’re unfamiliar with the tool, imagine typing a question into Google’s search bar, but rather than sending you to a highlighted answer followed by pages of search results, it talks back in a private chat window. It uses stored information from books, articles, and websites to give you an answer, in complete sentences and paragraphs.
ChatGPT, which is free to use, launched in November as a research prototype. Professionals have used it to write cover letters, and students have used it to write their papers — then New York City banned the app from public-school devices and networks.
ChatGPT may be able to write an English essay, but there are some things it can’t do, like help you start a business.
While it’s very smart, ChatGPT is only a chatbot; I knew it couldn’t physically start a business for me. But I wondered if it would at least walk me through the initial steps.
So I asked this AI program a series of questions about starting a business.
Here’s how it went.
8 generic steps for starting a business
The main page where you can ask ChatGPT for information.
When I initially visited the site, ChatGPT served me a 404 page — regular outages are a side effect of its sudden popularity. I refreshed the page a few hours later and was finally able to log on.
ChatGPT doesn’t do much heavy lifting. Its responses tend to be formulaic and broad, lack inspiration, and leave out a lot of useful information.
When I asked ChatGPT how to start a business, it gave me the following eight generic steps:
Starting a business can be a challenging but rewarding process. Here are some steps to help you get started:
- Develop a business idea: Identify a problem or need in the market that your business can solve. Conduct market research to validate the demand for your product or service.
- Create a business plan: Develop a detailed business plan that includes financial projections, marketing strategy, and a plan for setting up your business.
- Raise capital: Determine how much capital you will need to start your business and secure funding through investors, loans, or personal savings.
- Register your business: Register your business with the appropriate government agencies and obtain any necessary licenses and permits.
- Build a team: Hire employees or contractors to help you run your business, if necessary.
- Set up your business operations: Establish your business’s legal structure, obtain any necessary business insurance, and set up your accounting and financial systems.
- Develop a marketing plan: Develop a marketing plan that outlines how you will reach your target market and promote your business.
- Launch your business: Launch your business, and be prepared to adapt your business plan as you learn more about the market and your customers.
Starting a business requires hard work, dedication, and the ability to adapt to change. It also requires a good understanding of the market, the competition, and the legal requirements. It’s important to have a solid plan, a clear vision, and the right team in place to increase your chances of success.
ChatGPT can cater its answers to the type of business
ChatGPT answering how much it costs to start a laundromat business.
After asking the chatbot how to start a business, I tried more specific questions, like “How do I start a vending-machine business?” and “How do I start a laundromat business?”
These prompts led to slightly more detailed answers catered to the type of business, though they still fit within the same eight-step format. It suggested identifying potential locations for the vending machines and hiring staff for the laundromat.
Finally, I tested ChatGPT’s knowledge of startup costs. It told me the average cost to start a laundromat was $200,000 to $2 million or more, then outlined six overhead costs such as equipment, legal fees, and renovation.
In conclusion, ChatGPT is not a great source for answers to your deepest business questions, but it could be a helpful starting point to gather ideas, get cost estimates, and outline your business plan.