AI adoption is becoming increasingly widespread, and surprisingly, many businesses are unaware of their employees’ use of AI technologies. Developing AI guidelines is essential as it establishes clear expectations for all stakeholders within the company. Every business, regardless of size, should prepare for the advent of AI and consider its potential impact on their operations.

This article aims to offer a comprehensive guide on how small businesses can develop, implement, and disseminate AI guidelines to stakeholders. Neglecting to do so could expose the business to various risks associated with AI usage. By proactively addressing AI integration, small businesses can safeguard their operations and harness the potential benefits of this transformative technology effectively.

Before formulating AI guidelines for small businesses, decision-makers should first familiarise themselves with the current landscape of AI usage, both globally and within the UK. This initial step ensures a comprehensive understanding of how AI is being integrated across various industries and the specific trends and practices associated with the technology.

AI Usage In Workers

Research on AI adoption is particularly scarce, but one study worth examining is the comprehensive survey conducted by Slack, which encompassed 10,281 desk workers from the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. between January 10 and January 29, 2024. Key findings include;

  • Increased Adoption: The use of AI in the workplace has seen a significant uptick, with a 24% increase over the past quarter. As of January 2024, one in four desk workers has utilised AI tools for work tasks, up from one in five in September 2023.
  • Productivity Benefits: Approximately 80% of desk workers employing AI technologies report enhancements in productivity due to these tools.
  • Organisational Pressure: There is a recurring theme among nearly all executives who responded, which was – “a pressing need to integrate AI tools within their organisations to stay competitive.”
  • Guidelines and Experimentation: Desk workers at companies that have established AI usage guidelines are nearly six times more likely to have experimented with AI tools compared to those without such guidelines.

Administered by Qualtrics, this survey gathered insights from full-time desk workers engaged in various roles – from executive and senior management to junior management and skilled office workers like analysts and graphic designers. These individuals typically work with data, analyse information, or engage in creative processes. The study’s purpose was to provide valuable insights into the integration and impact of AI tools in workplace settings.

Image generated by ChatGPT

AI Adoption By Location

Artificial Intelligence adoption varies according to location, here are some key statistics that quickly highlight the current adoption of AI tools, however, this number is expected to rise exceptionally.

The adoption of AI technologies like ChatGPT and the concentration of AI companies in the UK provide a clear picture of how AI is not only a tool of business and innovation but also becoming part of everyday digital interactions across the world.

AI Integration According To Business Size

Despite the UK’s strong positioning in the AI sector, there is a notable disparity in the adoption rates of AI technologies among businesses of varying sizes:

  • Large Companies: The adoption of AI is most prevalent among large corporations, with 68% incorporating at least one AI technology. This high adoption rate can be attributed to larger firms’ resources and capacities to invest in and integrate new technologies effectively.
  • Medium-Sized Companies: These companies show a moderate engagement with AI technologies, with 33% reporting the incorporation of AI into their operations. Medium-sized businesses often balance the scale benefits of larger companies with the agility of smaller firms, allowing them some leverage in adopting new technologies but with more caution.
  • Small Businesses: Only 15% of small companies have integrated at least one AI technology. This lower rate of adoption can be linked to various challenges such as limited financial resources, lack of specialised knowledge, or uncertainty about the return on investment that AI might bring.

Developing AI guidelines for small businesses is not just about leveraging technology; it’s about securing a competitive edge, enhancing productivity, and navigating the complexities of AI integration responsibly. Guidelines serve as a roadmap for effective and ethical AI usage, helping small businesses mitigate risks while maximizing the benefits.

AI Concerns

Recent research conducted by Forbes Advisor provides insight into the prevailing concerns among the British public regarding the use of artificial intelligence. This study, carried out by the market research company Opinium, involved a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults and was conducted in May 2023.

Key Findings

A significant 59% of the participants expressed concerns about the use of AI in various aspects of life and work. The top concerns listed by respondents include:

  • Dependence on AI and Loss of Human Skills: 42% worry about becoming overly dependent on AI, leading to a decline in human skills.
  • Autonomous AI Systems: 39% are concerned about AI systems making decisions without human oversight.
  • Job Displacement: Another 39% fear the impact of AI on employment, worrying about jobs being replaced by technology.
  • Privacy and Data Security: Concerns about personal data security and privacy were noted by 38% of respondents.
  • Ethical Implications: 37% are wary of the ethical implications and potential misuse of AI technologies.
  • Unintended Consequences: 36% fear unforeseen risks and consequences of deploying AI.
  • Technological Vulnerabilities: 34% are anxious about AI being susceptible to hacking or manipulation.
  • Societal Impacts: Uncertainty about the long-term impacts on society concerns 33% of the population.
  • Surveillance Risks: 32% are apprehensive about AI’s potential use for surveillance or control.
  • Surpassing Human Capabilities: 26% fear that AI might outperform or surpass human abilities in critical domains.

This data underscores the breadth of concerns that exist around the expansion of AI technologies, highlighting the need for addressing these issues through responsible development, regulation, and implementation of AI systems.

Image generated by ChatGPT
Image generated by ChatGPT

Why Develop AI Guidelines for Small Businesses?

Developing AI guidelines for small businesses is essential to navigate the complexities of modern technology effectively. These guidelines serve multiple purposes, from clarifying the company’s stance on AI to ensuring regulatory compliance and promoting its use among employees. Below are key sections detailing the importance of each aspect:

To Provide a Clear Company Stance

Creating AI guidelines helps articulate a clear and coherent stance on the role and use of AI within the business. This clarity is crucial not only for internal operations but also for how the business is perceived externally. SMEs shouldn’t shy away from using AI but if they decide to do so, it should be clearly stated that they are and to which extent.

To Adhere to AI Regulations

As AI technology advances, so too does the regulatory landscape governing its use. Small businesses must develop AI guidelines to navigate and comply with these evolving regulations effectively. Companies should also ensure that their AI policy meets the guidance of the locality.

To Encourage Employee Usage

Guidelines are not just about limitation; they are also about empowerment. Proper AI guidelines can encourage employees to adopt AI tools confidently and responsibly. Set guidelines will encourage employees to develop new skills and knowledge in AI, keeping the workforce adaptive and competitive.

By developing comprehensive AI guidelines, small businesses can ensure they harness the benefits of AI technology safely and effectively. These guidelines provide a framework for responsible use, help navigate the regulatory environment, and foster an innovative culture that leverages AI for strategic advantage.

How To Develop AI Guidelines for Small Businesses?

In the next section, we will delve into the process of crafting AI guidelines that resonate with your business values. It’s crucial that these guidelines not only detail the practical aspects of AI implementation but also reflect the ethical considerations and the impact on various stakeholders.

Here’s a brief summary of what it should include/cover:

  • Summary of the Company Statement
  • Set AI Principles
  • Address AI Concerns
  • Set Clear AI Usage Guidelines
  • Ensure Security and Compliance
  • Promote Stakeholder Engagement

These guidelines will serve as a cornerstone for how your business intends to harness AI technologies – ensuring transparency, accountability, and fairness in every interaction. More details of each section are listed below, but you can also view our AI policy listed within our Terms and Conditions.

1. Summary of the Company Statement

The company statement should succinctly encapsulate the organisation’s stance on AI, detailing whether they are;

  • Currently avoiding its use
  • Planning to introduce it soon
  • Already integrating AI into operations.

The company statement should clearly articulate its proactive approach to addressing the common concerns associated with AI, from ethical issues to data security. The statement must outline the specific strategies and measures they are implementing to mitigate these concerns and demonstrate a commitment to responsible AI usage.

Example: Generated by ChatGPT

Our company is committed to harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance our operations while upholding our core values of integrity, transparency, and responsibility. We recognise the transformative potential of AI but are equally aware of the ethical, legal, and social implications associated with its deployment. To this end, we have established comprehensive AI guidelines designed to guide the development, deployment, and usage of AI technologies within our organisation.

2. Set AI Principles

AI guidelines should align with the existing principles of a company, ensuring that the deployment and development of AI technologies reflect the core values of the organisation. Here are some foundational principles that these guidelines should encompass:

Honesty and Integrity

Guidelines should uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity in all AI-related activities. This means ensuring that AI systems operate in a manner that is truthful and ethical, avoiding deception in AI outputs and interactions.

Responsible Practice

AI should be developed and used responsibly. Guidelines should outline protocols for ethical decision-making in the design, implementation, and deployment of AI systems. This includes considering the societal and environmental impacts of AI technologies.

Transparency of Technology

There should be full transparency regarding the use and capabilities of AI technologies. Guidelines must ensure that all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners, understand how AI is used within the company. This includes clear communication about the decision-making processes of AI systems and any limitations they might have.

By integrating these principles into AI guidelines, companies can ensure that their AI initiatives are not only effective but also aligned with their broader mission and values. This alignment helps in building trust and credibility with all stakeholders, fostering a positive and ethical AI environment.

3. Address AI Concerns

AI guidelines are instrumental in addressing and alleviating concerns associated with the use of artificial intelligence. By providing clear directives, these guidelines not only assist employees in seeking advice when needed but also ensure that stakeholders understand how the organisation manages potential AI-related risks. Below are areas of focus that AI guidelines typically cover:


  • Internally: Define what levels of AI intervention are acceptable within various operations to maintain integrity.
  • Externally: Clearly communicate the use of AI, ensuring that external stakeholders are aware of its integration into processes.

Fair Use

  • Copyright Infringement: Guidelines should clarify how to use copyrighted material responsibly in AI applications to avoid legal issues.
  • Credit Attribution: Ensure that contributions by AI are accurately credited, supporting transparency and honesty in innovations and outputs.


  • Harm Prevention: Commit to preventing AI from causing harm to users or promoting harmful materials.
  • Information Accuracy: Strive to ensure that all AI-generated content is factual and does not spread misinformation or ‘hallucination’.
  • Data Privacy: Implement measures to guarantee that all data, especially data gathered through AI interactions, is stored securely and in compliance with GDPR and other privacy regulations.

Job Protection

  • Workforce Reassurance: Clearly articulate how AI integration will not replace jobs but rather evolve them, opening opportunities for employees to engage in new and more creative roles. Guidelines should provide reassurance by outlining plans for retraining and upskilling the workforce to thrive alongside AI technologies.

By addressing these concerns through comprehensive AI guidelines, organisations can foster a culture of trust and transparency. This approach not only mitigates apprehensions but also enhances the collaborative potential of AI within the workplace.

4. Set Clear AI Usage Guidelines

It is crucial to establish specific guidelines for the permissible uses of AI within your organisation. To illustrate, in a marketing context, the following examples of the applications of AI have been identified as appropriate:

  • Research: Utilising AI to gather and analyse data to inform strategies and decisions.
  • Draft Writing: Leveraging AI to help create initial drafts of content.
  • Video Editing: Employing AI tools for enhancing and editing video content.
  • Summarising: Using AI to condense text-based information into concise summaries.
  • Grammar Checking: Applying AI for proofreading and correcting grammatical errors.
  • Email Sending: Automating email dispatch based on user behaviour and preferences.
  • Social Media Posting: Scheduling and managing posts using AI-driven insights.
  • Image Generation: Creating visual content with AI-driven graphic tools.
  • Data Analysis: Employing AI for deep data analysis and insight generation.
  • Content Generation: Utilising AI to produce engaging and relevant content.
  • AI Chatbots: Deploying AI chatbots for customer service and engagement.

While these categories may align with many organisations’ marketing needs, it’s important for each company to tailor AI usage guidelines to their specific operations. AI guidelines should also set clear boundaries for acceptable AI usage, for example, 40% of an employee’s time can be spent using AI or AI tools are acceptable within these following areas of work.

This ensures that the deployment of AI technologies aligns with the organisation’s unique goals, values, and the specific nature of their work. By clearly defining what constitutes acceptable use of AI, you not only maximise its benefits but also mitigate potential risks and misunderstandings.

5. Ensure Security and Compliance

AI guidelines must outline the specific and robust security measures that are taken to protect the company’s integration of AI. This includes protocols for handling sensitive data securely and mechanisms to prevent the dissemination of unchecked information through AI tools. Ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations is paramount, as this not only protects our operations but also builds trust with stakeholders, reassuring them that their personal information and data is handled with the utmost care and integrity.

6. Promote Stakeholder Engagement

AI guidelines should detail a clear approach to engaging with clients, users, and the broader public to solicit their feedback on AI deployments. This engagement is crucial in maintaining transparency and trust, and in understanding the impact of AI solutions on all stakeholders.

Continuous mentoring and open channels for feedback are essential to allow companies to respond to concerns and adapt AI strategies in alignment with stakeholder expectations and evolving industry standards. This proactive engagement helps refine AI applications and ensures that they remain aligned with user needs and ethical standards.

Image generated by ChatGPT
Image generated by ChatGPT: AI guidelines

AI Policy Template

If you’re beginning to draft an AI policy, consider this template as a starting point. It mirrors the framework we use, offering you foundational elements to customise according to your organisation’s specific operations and AI engagements. While larger companies may already be proactively addressing AI with comprehensive protocols, smaller enterprises might find the landscape less clear regarding AI usage among employees. 

AI technology is becoming increasingly integrated into common tools, like the latest version from Facebook, and its widespread adoption is inevitable. Therefore, it’s essential to establish formal approvals and detailed guidance for AI use within your company to navigate this evolving field effectively. This template is designed to provide clear guidance on employing AI in business settings.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy for (Insert Company Name)

(Insert Company Name) is committed to harnessing the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) in providing innovative solutions across various sectors, including (insert company-specific sectors, e.g. digital marketing, data analysis, etc). This AI policy serves as our pledge to the responsible, ethical, and transparent use of AI technologies.

This policy is designed to ensure that our AI initiatives align with our core values of integrity, innovation, and excellence. It addresses the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI within our business operations.

This policy covers all AI-related activities in our organisation, encompassing the current development, deployment, and management of AI systems. We will regularly update this policy as AI technology continues to become more integrated within our company operations.

Principles of AI Use

  • Ethical Use: Our commitment extends to using AI ethically. We ensure our AI systems do not discriminate based on race, gender, age, disability, or other characteristics.
  • Transparency: We prioritise transparency, making certain that our stakeholders understand the AI solutions’ functionalities and justifications.
  • Privacy and Data Protection: We adhere to rigorous data protection standards to secure data and comply with relevant privacy laws.
  • Accountability: We maintain responsibility for the AI systems we deploy, ensuring they are dependable, safe, and function as intended.
  • User Empowerment: Our AI systems are designed to enhance user capabilities and support human decision-making rather than replace it.
  • Fair Use: We ensure that AI-generated materials, including images, video and text, are properly credited and if necessary, attributed to the original content creator.

AI in Practice

  • Development and Testing: Our AI systems undergo thorough testing to assess their functionality, accuracy, and fairness before they are deployed.
  • Continuous Monitoring: We implement ongoing monitoring to ensure our AI systems perform correctly and adapt to new data or environments.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: We actively engage with clients, users, and the public to solicit feedback and address AI-related concerns.
  • Managing Risks: We ensure that potential AI risks are effectively managed and controlled, for example, uploading company-sensitive data onto AI platforms, handling misinformation and hallucination, etc.

Compliance with Laws and Regulations
We ensure that all AI applications are compliant with local regulations, international laws and industry standards. We continuously monitor the legal landscape and ensure our AI policy is acting in accordance with these guidelines.

AI and Our Workforce

  • Training and Development: We invest in training our workforce in AI technologies, emphasising both benefits and limitations.
  • Ethics and Compliance: Employees are encouraged to raise any ethical concerns or potential issues regarding our AI deployments.

Terms of Use

We permit our employees to use AI technologies for certain tasks, for example;

  • (insert specific examples of how your company employs AI)
  • drafting first editions of copy
  • image generation
  • formatting content
  • inserting video captions
  • summarising long-form content
  • deploying AI chatbots

However, due to the widespread employment of AI, the above is not an exhaustive list, we entrust our employees to experiment with AI tools and integrate them within their workflow as they see fit.

Our focus at (insert company name) is to use AI in combination with human-creativity, so as long as the latter is clearly present, we encourage a balanced approach where technology enhances, rather than replaces, human input.

Client and User Engagement

  • Transparency of Information: We provide clear information to clients about the role of AI in our services.
  • Consent and Autonomy: We seek explicit consent where necessary and ensure clients are aware of AI’s role in our services.

Governance and Oversight

  • Policy Governance: Our senior management team oversees this policy, ensuring it is regularly reviewed and updated to reflect technological advancements and evolving ethical standards.

Contact for Concerns and Feedback
We invite feedback and inquiries about our AI practices. Please contact our support team at (insert support email).


Hopefully, the provided AI policy template serves as a solid foundation for developing your own tailored AI policy. It is crucial to involve multiple departments in the creation of this policy to accurately capture the full spectrum of how AI is utilised across various aspects of your company’s operations.

Additionally, ensure that the final policy is reviewed and approved by Senior C-suite Executives in order to establish its authority and ensure comprehensive adherence throughout the organisation. This policy should also be regularly updated and maintained to ensure full transparency and accordance with legal regulations and industry standards.

Who Should AI Guidelines Be Shared With?

A small business policy of AI usage not only guides internal practices but also communicates to external parties how the company plans to navigate the complexities of AI, ensuring ethical use and transparent operations. The following sections outline how employees, customers, and stakeholders are impacted by these AI guidelines, emphasising the importance of clarity and integrity in the deployment of AI technologies.


AI guidelines serve as an essential resource for employees, providing a clear understanding of how AI should be responsibly and effectively used in their daily operations. They help foster acceptance of new technologies, mitigate potential concerns, and enable employees to explore innovative ways to integrate AI into their workflows. Additionally, these guidelines should include continuous training and support systems to help employees adapt to and maximise the benefits of AI technologies, enhancing their skills and job satisfaction.


For customers, these guidelines enhance transparency, providing reassurance about how the company uses AI and safeguards data. By openly sharing these guidelines, businesses can strengthen trust and confidence, ensuring customers feel secure in their interactions with AI-powered services or products. This transparency not only meets customer expectations for data protection but also positions the company as a responsible leader in technology use.


Sharing AI guidelines with broader stakeholders – including investors, partners, and regulatory bodies – establishes a commitment to fair use of AI, aligning the company with ethical standards and regulatory requirements. This helps maintain credibility and accountability in all business practices. Additionally, it invites stakeholders to participate in a dialogue about AI ethics and compliance, fostering a collaborative environment for continuous improvement and alignment with industry best practices.

Key Takeaways

AI technology offers transformative potential for small businesses, enhancing productivity, driving innovation, and opening new avenues for growth. However, the deployment of AI also comes with its challenges, including ethical dilemmas, privacy issues, and the potential for job displacement. By proactively establishing AI guidelines, small businesses not only safeguard their operations against these risks but also position themselves to capitalise on the opportunities AI presents.

For small businesses standing on the brink of AI adoption, the development of thoughtful, comprehensive AI guidelines is not just a precaution – it’s a strategy for future-proofing their operations and embracing the digital age with confidence. As AI continues to evolve, these guidelines will be crucial in guiding small businesses towards sustainable and ethical use of technology, ensuring that they not only survive but thrive in the new landscape shaped by artificial intelligence.

More resources: What is Artificial Intelligence? An Overview for Beginners | OpenAI: Shaping the Promising Future of Artificial Intelligence | Artificial Intelligence versus Machine Learning: Which Technology Reigns Supreme? | Canva AI: Everything you need to know about the new artificial intelligence software | 50+ Amazing Artificial Intelligence Statistics in Business to Inspire you.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *