How to Drastically Expand Your Workforce Without Hiring Anyone
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Every day, we hear more and more about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have been publicly “feuding” about the potential dangers of AI, which can leave people wary to try new products driven by AI.

While what Musk and Zuckerberg are discussing is a potential future scenario, in reality, almost everything we do online today has some element of machine learning or artificial intelligence. As the AI used in them is rudimentary and narrowly focused, we can allow them to be helpful in our day-to-day business–without fear that they’re going to take over the world.

Here are some AI-driven tools that will help make your business run like clockwork:


As an entrepreneur, you’re often busy running your business. Unless you happen to be an artist or a web designer, you won’t have the skills to create your own designs.Thankfully, AI comes to the rescue.

1. With Firedrop, all you do is answer a few questions about your business, and Sacha, the AI web designer, brings it to life. It’s slightly more complex counterpartThe Grid, a site famous for its Kickstarter, gives you slightly more control out of the box, but still designs a full site for you with very little input. For people who feel SquareSpace or Wix are too daunting, both sites will feel right at home.

2. Do you suck at Pictionary? Are you always trying to get your point across with a sketch and no one understands? Go to the Autodraw site, and it will guess what you’re trying to draw and put it in a neat image. Bonus: Take your completed sketch to Paintschainer and you can automatically color it in via AI for a unique work of art.


Similar to Design, unless you’re a marketing genius, when you’re running a small business, you don’t have time create content and run it. By utilizing AI, it’s like having your own Don Draper on staff.

3. These days,if you aren’t using video, you’ll lose people’s interest fast–but if you’re like me, finding the time to create them can be difficult. Magistohelps me out by taking my uploadedpictures and video and applyingAI to pickjust the best bits. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by its results right out of the box.

4. Do you have tons of written content and no videos for it? Lumen5 can be a great tool for you. What this site does is take URLs of articles and convert them to captioned videos, complete with music. As an example, Iuseit to quickly create companion video summaries for my Inc articles to post to social media.

5. Want to add stock footage to your videos? Do you like more control over what you’re sending? Are you simply trying to create an explainer? Use Biteable’svideo creator to put something together fast, with the benefit of accessing their vast catalog of stock footage and music.


Sales are the bane of every company’s existence, no matter what your size. If you’re a small business, you should be spending a disproportionate amount of time selling versus everything else, but what generally happens is that this gets neglected for product development and other tasks. Thankfully, we now have AI to help us.

6. Don’t have time to find and capture leads? Use to surface warm leads to follow up with.

7. Already have hot leads? Enter them into Conversica and let the AI do its work. Once you have a meeting set, it will add it to your calendar and let you follow up directly.

8. With Crystal, you can surface insights to have the right conversations with people. The insights it gives you can be a bit spooky, so use sparingly.


As entrepreneurs, it can be all too easy to let things fall through the cracks. Putting processes in place for following up is a good step, yet it seems out of reach for most people. Thanks to AI, it is a reality.

9. Using, you can have your own virtual assistant, scheduling meetings and follow-ups, adding it to your calendar directly. This allows you to save time for more important things.

10. With AskTetra and Fireflies, you get automated meeting notes sent to you–in summary form. Rather than just a full transcript, these services send you the insights so you know what is most important.

By embracing AI, your business can run smoother and you’ll be way ahead of the competition.

Dec 21, 2017
Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra of JCRT
Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra of JCRT

When New York State went into quarantine in mid-March, Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra had just moved JCRT, their direct-to-consumer shirt company, to a new office on Pier 59 in New York City. Founded in 2016, JCRT celebrates all things plaid and camouflage, with colorful patterns named after David Bowie and Kate Bush albums and movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Stuck in a rentalhome in rural New Jersey,the married Costello andTagliapietragot to work. Heartsick that the city that had been their base and home for years was the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, they wanted to do something to help friends on the frontlines.Costello began sewing masks from whatever sample fabrics he had on hand.Tagliapietra boxed them “by the hundreds” and the couplesentthem to wherever they heard PPE was needed.

“Everything was sort of unknown at that point,” Tagliapietra says. “We were very happy to be able to even do that.”

After sewing about 600 masks (“My hands were tired!” Costello jokes), they were able to reopentheir factory in the Dominican Republic, which been closed due to government quarantine and curfew rules, and began producing masks for sale and donation, giving more than 12,000 to first responders. They’re donating a portion of their retail sales to the New York City Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, benefiting health care workers, supporting small businesses, and vulnerable workers and families. Without any marketing other than their social feeds, Tagliapietra and Costello estimate they’ve sold 45,000 masks through JCRT and raised more than $65,000.

Now they’re selling masks and collared shirts made from a black, red, and green plaid, with proceeds going to Movement for Black Lives. Over the Father’s Day weekend, which also included the commemoration of Juneteenth, they donated 100 percentof the sales of those goods to the organization.

JCRT is a second act for Costello and Tagliapietra, who previously founded a women’s wear business called Costello Tagliapietra in 2005. Their runway shows were written up in glossy fashion magazines and the founders got a lot of press for their shared plaid-on-plaid aesthetic and impressive beards, which led to theirbeing dubbed “the lumberjacks of fashion.”

Keeping their operation small also allows the foundersto decide where and how to focus their energies, including supporting the causes they careabout. They’re nowat work on another fundraiser, this one for Pride month,with proceeds going to the Ali Forney Center, a New York City-based program for LGBTQ homeless youth.With their factory up and running, JCRT also continues to release new designs, sellingdressshirts, pants, jackets, bags, and accessoriesthrough their website.

Jun 23, 2020

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