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How AI can supercharge small business growth

Quickbooks uses AI to understand anonymized data from millions of customers to help businesses better manage revenue flow, tax payments, and more.

Small businesses comprise 98% of all businesses and employ 60% of the global workforce. People who work for themselves create 80% of new jobs. But it’s no secret that small businesses often fail — nearly 50% fail in their first five years. That’s why QuickBooks is on a mission to tip the odds in favor of small businesses. We want to ensure their long-term success by giving them access to the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, integrated across the QuickBooks platform.

With the world’s largest self-employed and small business ecosystem, Intuit has millions of customers and billions of transactions it can feed into its AI and prediction engine. A platform of billions of anonymized patterns of revenue flow, expenses, tax payments, payroll, and more help make each small business smarter and more efficient. The more informed their decisions are — based on the global and local insights derived from the QuickBooks ecosystem — the more prepared they are to succeed and grow. 

From managing operations to payroll, cash flow — and even finding a trusted expert — every part of a small business is being supercharged. Here are three of the most impactful technologies that are changing how small businesses will grow and prosper.

1. Artificial intelligence to predict and manage cash flow

Managing cash flow is among the top challenges that small businesses and the self-employed face. Over 60% of business owners have lost sleep in the past year over cash flow challenges. Driven by a cash crunch, a third of these businesses have made poor decisions, like delaying payroll or a loan payment, that hurt their long-term potential. And 25% of businesses have missed a revenue growth opportunity. Ultimately, 82% of the time, poor cash flow management or poor understanding of cash flow contributes to the failure of a small business.  

To help alleviate this challenge, Intuit designed a Cash Flow Planner that enables small businesses to predict their daily cash flow 90 days into the future. With this full view at hand, the planner enables small businesses to get ahead of challenges before they lead to negative consequences. 

Rather than dipping into personal funds, like a 401(k), to make an upcoming payroll, with advanced notice, business owners can delay paying a bill, request an invoice be paid faster, or take short-term financing available through QuickBooks Capital. The Planner will alert business owners proactively when a negative situation is coming up and provide recommendations for navigating it. 

The Cash Flow Planner can even use its machine learning intelligence to advise on strategic decisions like employment. For example, the tool can answer questions like, “Is it safe to hire another employee, given my forecasted cash flow?”

2. Faster money movement

QuickBooks is one of the most powerful tools for putting more money in the pockets of small businesses. Small businesses using QuickBooks Payments get paid three times faster than those who don’t. And our solutions keep getting more powerful. 

With QuickBooks Payments, businesses can create a payment-enabled invoice in less than a minute, with their hours, expenses, and mileage added by AI automatically. They can also customize their invoice, take a deposit or structure installments, and allow customers to pay in a variety of formats. All this enhances customer service and improves cash flow. And with the introduction of new features in GoPayment (our mobile POS solution), business owners can set roles and permissions that enable staff to accept payments at a job site. The result is a suite of payment solutions that enable next-day payment — and soon, instant deposit payments. 

Technology is also having a huge impact on payroll. With QuickBooks, small business owners can wait to run payroll until their actual payday. With faster payroll, business owners don’t have to tie up their funds before payday, enabling employers to hold on to $22 billion in funds for days longer each year. And at the same time, employees can expect on time and accurate paychecks. 

Loans are also being deposited faster than ever, thanks to almost instant deposits. QuickBooks’ lending arm for businesses, QuickBooks Capital, can deposit loan money into an applicant’s account on the day they’re approved. Many of these small business owners have been declined by banking institutions. In less than two years, QuickBooks Capital has distributed $1.7 billion in funding to small business owners.

3. Expert-driven platforms

QuickBooks gives small businesses the advantage they need to succeed not only through product innovations but through critical human connections as well. Among the most powerful is its ability to connect small business owners with a bookkeeper or accountant. While only 30% of small businesses are connected with an accountant, those who are connected say they’re twice as likely to succeed. Yet, oftentimes, small businesses don’t know where to look for an expert. Nearly 3 in 4 (72%) seek advice from friends and family before they seek help from a professional. At the same time, accountants often struggle to find and retain new clients. Most only add an average of four new clients per year.

QuickBooks is solving this two-sided problem with QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping. It combines the technology and simplicity of QuickBooks with a virtual, on-demand network of screened bookkeeping professionals. QuickBooks Live delivers both confidence and expertise to small businesses when they need it most. It gives them the freedom to focus on other aspects of their businesses and provides bookkeepers and accountants with an opportunity to earn more and work remotely with flexible hours. 

Via Intuit’s one-way video conferencing technology, small businesses connect on-demand directly with their designated bookkeeper. Their bookkeeper then provides customer setup, ongoing transaction categorization, and monthly and year-end books closing to ensure accuracy and organization. 

Through artificial intelligence, faster money movement, and the power of an online community of professionals, Intuit is helping small business owners work smarter, not harder. We’re tipping the odds in their favor for long-term growth and success.  

By Alex Chriss, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intuit’s Small Business and Self-Employed Group