When you start up a business, each employee is crucial. Now, that could be said for most businesses, but the impact of each individual is diluted with more employees. Your first employees have an effect on everything: the work culture, your profit, your productivity, your innovations, your image… I could go on.

You rely on them for more than corporate CEOs do. If they left, it would be a disaster. You need to be more than just the best entrepreneur out there; you need to be the best boss. They have to appreciate working under you if you want long-term engagement.

You’ve got to pass the basic human decency test- don’t smell, wear clean clothes, smile once in a blue moon. That should be easy enough. But if you really want to impress your employees– and we know you do- you have to know what they’re judging you on.

You’re too accommodating

What? But people like nice, don’t they? Yes, they do, up to a point. Of course, you know not to be a pushover. You know to be aggressive in sales and with competitors. But can you ever be too nice to your employees?

Yes, actually. If you have people that are motivated externally, they need to know that there will be consequences if they don’t meet expectations. You might want to spare feelings or be coach them gently to greatness, but the truth is that sometimes you need to be “tough, but fair.”

While it’s important to be reasonable, the reality of business is that work needs to be finished. You have to be very careful about how many tasks and responsibilities you put on your employees. Too few tasks and you risk losing them to boredom; too many and they can become overstressed.

This is a delicate balance to achieve, especially as digital workplaces become more and more common. You’re likely not always physically working side-by-side with your employees, but still collaborating extensively. Ideally, you are nice and connected to your employees, but be wary of becoming too much so. Yes, you rely on your employees in a way that bigger companies don’t, but you can’t let that cloud your judgment.

Employees naturally want to know what the rules are and what is expected of them. If you are too blurry with that line, employees will either take advantage of that, or they will become resentful of the employees that do. And that’s not a productive environment for any of you.

They never see your capabilities

It’s your job to look at the business from above. If anyone should know the big picture of your business, it’s you. However, this is another situation that you need to achieve a balance. Even in a start up, where it’s obvious that you poured your blood,sweat, and tears into this business, you need to show your employees that you know your stuff.

You need to improve your skills just as much, if not more, than your employees. It sounds daunting- after all, you’re already scrambling.  But there are simple ways to keep up on marketing techniques, regenerate creativity, or understand technological developments.

Whether you just need to brush off some old tricks or learn an entirely new skillset, your effort will not go unnoticed.  84% of American employees think that they could do their boss’ job better. You need to prove that that is not the case if you want their respect, loyalty, and motivation.

Your perspective is out of whack

You are the boss.  And there are perks that come along with that.  Obviously, because why would you take all that responsibility if there wasn’t any benefits? However, these perks should be within reason. Don’t pay your employees minimum wage and take vacations to Maui every week. If you do, be prepared for a backlash.

Likewise, keep in mind that their responsibility should be on par with their benefits. It doesn’t have to be much, but if employees feel like they’re taking on too much risk with not enough reward, they’ll resent you. The business might be your life, but that’s the responsibility you took on as the boss.

As employees, they have other priorities in their life. They might be enrolled in an online program, which present different challenges compared to on-campus classes, or they might have a family, resulting in only 17 minutes of free time a day. When you ask employees to stay late, try and keep these things in perspective.

Dayton socialises for a living and writes for fun. She will forever be a prisoner of her family’s business, doomed to inherit responsibility despite frequent existential protests.