Best business ideas for 2024: AI consultant

An AI consultant can advise on what AI platforms and tools are out there, which is a service that's highly in-demand in 2024

With the surge in generative AI that is rapidly changing the market, it can be overwhelming for businesses, especially small firms without dedicated resource, to know what to adopt and what to leave out.

Jump straight to the relevant section or read on for the full details on starting an AI consultant business.

This is where an independent AI consultant comes in handy. As we’ll go into shortly, an AI consultant can advise individuals and businesses on what AI platforms and tools are out there as well as how much they cost, how to implement them effectively and the ethical implications to consider.

Having a Bachelor’s degree in IT, computer science, mathematics, statistics or anything related to AI will give you a distinct advantage. You might need more qualifications based on the industry and you can get said qualifications from IBM, Amazon and other large firms. Certified Artificial Intelligence Consultant is a good programme to start off with.

Before you start, it’s good to know systems like Python and Java for building web components.

Why is starting an AI consultant business a good idea?

Small businesses are a key audience to tap as they’re likely to need support in implementing AI. You can work with businesses to identify what solutions are out there, how to implement them into a business and its goals, adjusting for budgetary restraints and working within ethical guidelines.

After ChatGPT hit the market last year, businesses have been divided as to whether to adopt the technology to improve their output and processes. This has increased the need for guidance, at a reasonable price, to show them what platforms are out there and what they can do.

For example, a busy bakery may be interested in automating some of its processes to free up more time to focus on product development. Without the dedicated resource or contacts to tell them how to do this within a certain budget, they’d be stuck. A publishing platform may be interested in AI to write commercial copy and social media posts – but to still maintain its brand tone and its connection with the audience.

If this has given you some ideas, read on to find out how to get started.

AI consultant growth trends

The global Artificial Intelligence (AI) Consulting 2023 report showed that the size was valued at $93,472.06 million in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 37.46 per cent during the forecast period, reaching $630,611.25 million by 2029.

This is thanks to increasing adoption of AI across industries to boost business outcomes – and the subsequent need for guidance in implementing them.

If you already have specialist knowledge in a particular industry, then get involved. Industry-specific AI implementation, such as network optimisation in the communications industry, is set to grow so take advantage of your existing expertise.

The merging of AI with other technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain will be significant in the coming years so knowing how all of these different technologies can fit together to save businesses money and boost their output will be valuable knowledge.

What AI consultant businesses can I start?

Business AI consulting is the clear choice to begin with. Advise businesses on implementing AI, from which platforms to use, to budget, to ethical considerations. This is easier to start as a solo entrepreneur while you’re building up your client base and reputation. Build a profile on Clutch to help your business reach firms making key decisions.

Healthcare AI for exploring new medical treatments is another big opportunity. Use expertise in healthcare AI to advise businesses on what to use in helping them to uncover new medical treatments. Consider start-ups in genomics (such as 23andMe), patient care, mental health, fitness, data and health records and medical insurance, for example. It will help if you work with a healthcare company who are developing a healthcare solution that you believe in or that has personal significance to you. Think about what you want to help businesses do. Tribe AI focuses on leveraging AI to detect diseases faster, automate processes and provide personalised treatment plans.

AI marketing for small businesses – show businesses how AI can transform their marketing offering while providing guidance on how to keep AI-based communications sounding more human. It starts the same way as any other marketing consultancy: find your niche, get clued up on the solutions available and how they can help small businesses and then get building your portfolio and finding clients.

Who else has started an AI consultant business? 

Deeper Insights offers generative AI services, AI exploration, data science consulting and more to a range of industries. The brand’s podcast, the AI Paper Club, is geared at anyone who is interested in artificial intelligence.

“For me it’s about pushing the realms of what’s possible with technology for the greater good of humankind –whether that’s by using data to drive more informed decisions or intelligent automation to transform organisational efficiency to reduce waste,” said founder and CEO, Jack Hampson.

That Product Studio guides its clients through AI implementation, AI prototyping, AI solutions architecture, AI strategy and consulting. The company can take your concept and transform them into digital products and services.

“By 2030, we envision a world where every business, regardless of scale or sector, harnesses the power of AI and emerging tech to drive transformative change. We believe in a future where technology is universal, accessible, and impactful,” the firm said.

Mercury Labs – AI Studio specialise in design and deploy AI solutions for businesses in a variety of industries such as public relations and manufacturing.

Small business expert opinion

Maria Opre, a cybersecurity expert and senior analyst at EarthWeb, speaks to Small Business about what you need to know before starting an AI consultant business.

“I’ve worked with over 90 unique brands and hold a Master of Science degree in Risk Analysis from King’s College London. My expertise goes beyond just writing and analysis; I’ve been instrumental in talent acquisition, organisational development, and employee engagement strategies for some of the top tech firms. This has allowed me to have a holistic view of the tech industry, understanding not just the trends and analytics, but also the people driving those innovations.

“When it comes to venturing out on your own, it’s important to really understand what problems your potential clients are facing. Over the years, I’ve found the most successful consultancies are the ones laser-focused on a particular industry or use case. Personally, I think opportunities lie in helping smaller businesses implement personalised, affordable AI solutions to common challenges like marketing, customer support, and process optimisation.

“Large-scale clients often already have dedicated teams exploring new technologies, but smaller organisations frequently lack the budget or manpower. That’s an area I see ripe for disruption. With the right customisable packages, even a sole proprietor could benefit from AI to scale their operations in an automated yet meaningful way.

“Of course, technical skills are a prerequisite for any AI role. But as consultants, our true value comes from interpreting complex topics in a digestible manner. I’ve known many whiz kids who struggled to secure return clients because they couldn’t explain AI beyond equations and jargon. Storytelling and simplification are underrated talents.

“Project management is another core strength. While the algorithms grab headlines, successful implementation requires careful planning, budgeting, testing and documentation, and continuous education. Clients depend on consultants as guides through uncharted waters.

“More than credentials, clients want consultants who truly listen and understand their distinctive situations. Standard blueprints don’t cut it. I’ve found the most impactful solutions emerge from thoughtful discussions of aspirations, pain points, and constraints –  not grand promises.

“While networking expands opportunities, strong work fuels vibrant word-of-mouth. Let real results and delighted customers define your offering. In time, as trust and a track record build, so will a supportive community and rewarding career path. But stay grounded in service; profits follow a passion, not the other way around.”

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.