Like most entrepreneurs, I was pulled in many directions when I started my first business. I was a software engineer by trade, but bringing a product to market meant quickly learning the ins and outs of marketing, sales and a dozen other unknown skills.
It was a relief when I could finally afford to make my first hire, bringing on people who specialized in these essential functions. That’s been top of mind as I explore the fast-developing capabilities of AI on tools like Chat GPT. I’m excited by the potential for these tools to free the next generation of entrepreneurs—particularly creators—from having to take on overhead until they can afford to expand.
The fear and speculation about the impact of generative AI tools on the creative economy are understandable, but may be overstated. There’s no sign that the machines are taking over just yet. AI tools can find and synthesize information with astonishing speed, but they can’t initiate or ideate without human input, and that isn’t changing anytime soon.
This is a watershed moment for creative industries. One that I believe will prove to be bigger than outsourcing and social media combined. But it is a revolution, not a catastrophe, and I’m excited about the potential to lower the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs and help small businesses compete on a grander scale.
As a serial entrepreneur who has worked with thousands of creators, I predict that entrepreneurial creators will lead the way in integrating AI and transforming work as we know it. Here’s why.
Creators will disrupt how we use AI
I recently heard a quote that resonated with me: “AI is not going to take your job; people who are good at using AI are going to take your job.” That is an important distinction that entrepreneurial creators instinctively understand.
AI is not a replacement for human creativity; it’s an assistive tool. Like Iron Man’s suit, it can supercharge your capabilities if you learn to use it effectively. Few people have a greater incentive to figure out how to harness these powers than entrepreneurial creators looking to streamline routine tasks and business processes to maximize their creative time.
Creators are the ultimate adapters. They’re accustomed to repurposing tools like social media to build businesses and responding in real time to changing circumstances and customer needs. This agility will allow them to find new use cases for AI that will pioneer how others use it effectively.
For example, they might use generative language tools to translate content for new audiences, spitball a dozen offbeat marketing strategies, and then run quick experiments to find the ones that really work.
Creator-led businesses will stay nimble longer
With all the talk about AI lately, not enough is being said about how it can help creators launch businesses. In short, generative AI tools will help entrepreneurs, especially creators, launch full-fledged businesses without making a single hire.
This will come naturally to creators who are used to carefully managing expenses and hustling for every dollar in revenue. They’ll use AI to build the scaffolding of full-fledged businesses as they create new income streams. Here, too, they’ll find creative uses for tasks like generating contracts, managing inventory and supply chains, and creating messy first drafts of business plans, financial forecasts and other documentation that took considerable time and expense beore AI.
While many creators already use AI-assisted tools for some of these tasks, successful creators will create workflows that integrate AI into every aspect of back-end operations, effectively using AI tools as their company’s “first hire.” This will level the playing field, enabling new businesses to compete against established companies based on merit, not resources. That, in turn, will push larger companies to innovate further.
Unplugging will have advantages
Finally, integrating AI into daily workflows will require focus and restraint. Here, too, the highly responsive creator economy will lead the way.
While AI can be a powerful tool, there are real dangers in becoming distracted by or overly dependent on it. At best, leaning too heavily on AI yields bland and unoriginal content. At worst, it can replicate and magnify biases and falsehoods. Navigating these boundaries will take sound judgment, thoughtful iteration, and strong goal orientation — skills successful creators have honed for years.
Much like social media and cell phones, AI will only effectively supplement and augment human skills of initiation, creativity, and purpose. Creators who keep their goals in mind and use AI to support their vision will reap the benefits, while those who don’t will fall behind. Like a massive learning lab, the creator economy in aggregate will quickly discover best practices and pitfalls, helping shape the future of AI.
This integration of AI into our everyday workflows has long been on the horizon, even if it has arrived sooner than many expected. But creators and entrepreneurs who stay focused, open to new uses, and use AI to support their vision will thrive in this new era. They’ll find that AI assistance creates new, not fewer, opportunities and levels the playing field with big agencies and well-heeled competitors. It’s an exciting time of transformation, not something to fear.