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Ask any entrepreneur the secret to her success and she’ll say a variety of things: a specific sales approach, believing in the product she’s selling, or customer service. But the secret to every small business owner’s success is largely due to the team of people she has working with her. Your employees are your facilitators, your implementers, and your direct contact with your customers. They’re important. The key to growing your business? Hire good employees, and then keep them happy so they’ll happily work hard.

Here’s how to do that:

Keep an Open Dialogue

Just as many businesses have a place for their customers to voice their concerns—whether with a suggestion box in-store or a place to type comments online—I stress to my employees the importance of keeping me updated on what’s going on within their own departments. Micro-managing is not my leadership style so I won’t know every little detail of what’s going on within a department, but if something is big enough to disrupt work, I want to know about it so we can work together to fix the issue! Just as it’s important to hear out an upset customer and work through the problem.  

Help Them Take Care of Themselves

There are some companies that encourage their employees to come in even when sick. Though I understand not wanting to miss out on hours if not on salary, you have to consider the well being of the rest of your team members as well. If one person comes into work sick, you could have five more out the next day. This goes for taking time off as well. Typically, if all the work that needs to get done gets done and I’m notified well in advance, I’m pretty open to taking time off.

You keep your customers’ wellbeing at the forefront of your mind, if you practice the same thinking for your employees, they’ll be happier, healthier, and more present when at work.

Reward Outstanding Performances

You want your employees to feel fulfilled and happy at work so they’ll want to stick around for the long haul. I do this by providing flexibility, giving raises where raises are due, and treating my employees in little ways throughout the year. If someone hits a sales goal, or does especially well on a project, I reward them with gift cards or lottery tickets. It’s a fun, simple gesture that lets my employees know I appreciate them, but it goes a long way.  

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.