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Lead Your Employees Somewhere Positive and Other Must-Read Business Tips

A look at how to get employees on board with your vision, why you should connect with customers and more advice for business owners.
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A roundup of the best tips of the week from

Business owners know more acutely than most people that change is inevitable. It is a fact of life. But not all change is positive, and it becomes difficult to lead employees when they think you are taking them in a bad direction, says Mark Sanborn, president of Sanborn & Associates Inc., a Lonetree, Colo.-based leadership development firm.

But that doesn't mean your employees don't have guts and grit. "They can even handle the challenges and sacrifices of a new undertaking if they believe there is a payoff on arrival," says Sanborn. He tells the anecdote of a client whose vision statement for his company was full of financial goals but was silent when it came to quality of life for employees.

"I wasn't surprised that nobody could remember what the vision was, nor care about achieving it," Sanborn says. "Their vision statement became effective when it was rewritten to express the future for all stakeholders, including employees." More: Why Your Employees Aren't Following You

Treat customers with respect.
Selling doesn't come naturally to everyone. Some people feel uncomfortable putting themselves out there for the sake of their idea, product or service. One way to help yourself relax is to make a connection with your prospective client, says Cristi Young, founder of No.2 Creative, a New York City-based branding firm. Treat him or her like a person. "You'd be surprised how many people forget to say hello, ask how their weekend was, or remember a personal detail they shared with you last time you met. Connect and care first." More: How to Sell Without Feeling Sleazy

To retain employees, give them a meaningful career path.
Chances are you can't compete with Google and Facebook when it comes to employee salaries, but a high salary is not the only carrot you can provide to retain top employees. One way to keep them around is to provide them with opportunities for real growth in their career, says Carolyn Betts, founder of San Francisco-based Betts Recruiting. She recommends having a frank discussion with employees on their yearly employment anniversaries about how they see themselves growing within your company. "Share your thoughts with where you see them headed and what opportunities exist for them to continue to be challenged," she says. More: How to Stop Your Rock-Star Talent From Fleeing

Base your marketing strategy on customer behavior.
As a business owner, you may welcome the rise of mobile traffic even while assuming you can shoehorn your old marketing strategies onto the new platforms. Not so, says Jayson DeMers, founder of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based SEO agency: "If you're not delivering your marketing messages in a way that's tailored specifically to the experience of a smartphone or tablet user, chances are you're turning customers away." Find out how your customers are using their mobile devices, and what their expectations are. "Data from your existing website analytics program can give you mobile insights, as can targeted surveys, [which can] form the foundation of your mobile content strategy," DeMers says. More: The Key Ingredients to a Winning Mobile Content-Marketing Strategy

Choose investment bankers, not investment banks.
When choosing an investment banker to sell your business, the experience and know-how of the individual(s) doing your deal is more important than the firm to which their name is attached, says Jay Turo, chief executive of Growthink, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm. "Information technology and social media have leveled the playing field between big and small investment banking firms," he says. Your personal chemistry with the banker also matters. Ask yourself how, when and where you prefer to communicate, and then evaluate bankers on how well they match up. More: How to Choose The Right Investment Banker to Sell Your Business