As an entrepreneur, you may have all kinds of great ideas, but you need employee buy-in to implement them. That's why Jennifer Lawton, CEO of Net Daemons Associates, headquartered in Woburn, Mass. and now part of Interliant, makes sure her 55 employees have access to the company's strategic business plan, which is updated annually. Lawton posts the plan on the company's intranet and solicits employees' feedback.

At an annual offsite meeting, the entire staff of the computer-network consulting company, which had 1998 revenues of $5.5 million, gathers to review next year's strategy and hear about the previous year's performance.

As an added incentive, the offsite meeting offers a chance to "get everyone together to meet each other and have some fun," Lawton says. "It's a great way to energize everyone all at once." At that yearly event, employees are expected to ask questions and offer suggestions. "Our employees are very vocal," says Lawton. "If they don't pipe up there, they will follow up with you independently."

Lawton has demonstrated to her employees that she pays attention to their comments. At one annual meeting, an engineer questioned the 100% to 200% growth projection for the upcoming year. After a lengthy discussion with the staff, Lawton changed the projection to 80% to 100%. "His question caused me to think about how that growth feels from an engineer's perspective," says Lawton. She decided to grow the business more slowly, rather than risk alienating her employees.

Jennifer Lawton shares more advice with you as an mentor.