Get to Know ChatGPT

Sara, a business strategy consultant in New York, decided to demonstrate the usefulness of ChatGPT to a client by putting together a test. In preparation for a strategic planning session with the client’s management team, she fed information from the client’s website into ChatGPT along with other details about their work and asked ChatGPT to identify the client’s strategic differentiators. At the start of the planning session, Sara took the management team through an exercise to help them identify their differentiators. After the exercise was complete, Sara posted the differentiators identified by ChatGPT next to those identified by the management team. They were a close match. The big difference? ChatGPT had done its work in much less time.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of ChatGPT. This AI large language model burst onto the scene on November 30, 2022. By January 2023, a mere two months later, it had amassed over 100 million users, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history. There’s a reason for that. ChatGPT has numerous applications that users are only just beginning to discover. And, like any new technology, ChatGPT also has lots of problems that users are only just beginning to discover.

So how can you and your business benefit from ChatGPT? I decided to take that question straight to the source. I asked ChatGPT. Here is what it told me:

My Prompt > What are five practical ways small business owners can use ChatGPT?

ChatGPT’s Response > As a language model, ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for small business owners in a variety of ways. Here are five practical ways small business owners can use ChatGPT:

  1. Improve customer support: Small business owners can use ChatGPT to provide better customer support by using it as a chatbot to answer common customer questions, offer product recommendations, and provide troubleshooting tips. This can help improve the customer experience and reduce the workload of customer service agents.
  2. Generate new business ideas: Small business owners can use ChatGPT to brainstorm new business ideas. By asking ChatGPT questions about their industry, market trends, and customer needs, they can get insights and suggestions for new products or services to offer.
  3. Create social media content: Small business owners can use ChatGPT to generate ideas for social media content. By asking ChatGPT questions about trending topics or relevant keywords, they can get ideas for social media posts, infographics, and videos.
  4. Improve marketing copy: Small business owners can use ChatGPT to improve their marketing copy. By using ChatGPT to generate alternative phrasing for product descriptions, headlines, and ad copy, they can get suggestions for how to make their marketing materials more compelling.
  5. Conduct market research: Small business owners can use ChatGPT to conduct market research by asking it questions about customer preferences, competitor offerings, and market trends. This can help them better understand their target audience and develop effective marketing strategies.


These are all great and helpful ideas. In fact, I have used ChatGPT for numbers 3, 4, and 5 (social media content, marketing copy, and market research). I currently have a developer setting up number 1 (chatbot). However, I think this list misses the real value of ChatGPT for small business owners.

The most valuable aspect of using ChatGPT for me has been eliminating what Lior Weinstein, a prolific tech founder and AI enthusiast, calls “start friction”. Start friction is the difficulty or resistance you feel when you start working on a new project. Knowing where to start, how to start, organizing your thoughts, and figuring out what your end product should accomplish are some of the barriers you encounter that can result in lots of unproductive time upfront as you work through them. With ChatGPT, I have gotten around this by letting it take the first stab at what I need to do, creating a draft or rough sketch that I can change, edit, and/or iterate on as needed. The time I save can then be repurposed higher up on the value chain where my genius really thrives.

Sara’s story is another example of a great use for ChatGPT. It’s good at summarizing and finding key points within information. It can take a lot of thought and discussion for a management team to distill what their company does down to a few key points and then clearly articulate the strategic differentiators of their business. And while this is extremely important work, greater value comes from figuring out how to leverage those differentiators in the marketplace. Rather than spend hours identifying and articulating them, wouldn’t it be better to spend that time identifying actionable ways to use them to drive more and new streams of opportunities and revenue for the business? ChatGPT can take care of the former, and Sara’s genius can be used to help the management team accomplish the latter.

I asked Weinstein to share his thoughts on how SMBs can get the most out of ChatGPT. Here’s what he said:

“I tell leaders to think about it this way: your team now has its own team. ChatGPT gives you extreme leverage. It’s an accelerant. Think about the tasks you do. Do any of them include the words edit, summarize, repurpose, plan, review, estimate, draft, inspect, diagnose, research, or recommend? ChatGPT can help with those tasks.”

Now, you may be thinking, if ChatGPT is such a great resource, can it replace some of the people on my payroll? The answer is yes, no, and maybe. I like to think about it this way, ChatGPT is great for information and the tasks that Lior’s verbs nicely summarize, but it can’t provide insight. It can’t think critically. It’s never run a business, and it lacks real-world context. These are value-adds that only skilled people can provide.

The best way to figure out how to use ChatGPT as an accelerant in your business is to give it a try. It’s free, although a paid version was introduced a few weeks ago. But before you dive in, here are a few caveats to keep in mind:

  1. It’s been known to lie. Be careful of using facts you get from ChatGPT without verifying them. It can give you fake or made-up facts. This is because ChatGPT works by predicting words that logically come next in a sentence. What’s logical isn’t necessarily what’s true or accurate. I tested this out by having ChatGPT draft something for me and asking that it include a study supporting a particular point. It gave me what I asked for, except the study it included wasn’t real, even though it sounded like it could have been. In short, don’t trust ChatGPT for facts.
  2. It’s been known to plagiarize. CNET learned this the hard way. The technology news site began including articles written by ChatGPT throughout its site—without alerting the public that it was doing so. Users quickly noticed something fishy was going on and began identifying blatant instances of plagiarism in several articles. Let’s just say this didn’t end well for CNET. Using it for drafting purposes is fine and helpful, but I personally wouldn’t post its output as my own writing.
  3. How good its output is depends on how good your questions are. Remember my tip about asking better questions? ChatGPT is another example of why that’s important. Lior Weinstein calls it a thinking mirror. The quality of its output reflects the quality of your input. The clarity of your prompts is critical. Get to know a bit about “prompt engineering” (asking better questions).
  4. Its database only goes up to September 2021. If you need information drawn on events that have occurred since then, ChatGPT won’t know about them and won’t be able to use that in its output.

Even with these limitations, I have found ChatGPT to be incredibly helpful. I recommend you give it a try. Let me know how it goes for you!