If you think your employees are dispensable, you're sorely mistaken. 

During the Inc. 5000 conference in October, "turnaround king" Marcus Lemonis, entrepreneur and star of CNBC show "The Profit," told the audience that employees are the cornerstone of every successful business.

"The question is what's the most important between people, process, and product? It's not even a competition, it's people. End of story. People, at the end of the day, is all that matters," he says. "You can take a crappy process and an average product and put the A-Team on it, and you'll beat somebody with a great process, a great product, and bad people."

When it comes to hiring the best people, Lemonis urges, don't skimp on salary and benefits. "The one thing I hate to hear is, 'I got that person cheap,' or 'I was able to steal them,'" he says. "Well, there's a reason they were cheap. Hire the most expensive, most talented, most sophisticated person you can find."

But a healthy salary is not the real key to keeping your best employees engaged and interested in devoting their time and talent to your company. "Offer them equity," Lemonis says. "That's the secret. Everyone is on the same elevator. You all go up together and you all go down together."

When you are figuring out how to give them equity, he adds, start with 10 percent and structure it as a profit-sharing model or a buy-in at a "severely discounted rate." But whatever you do, don't just give it to them. "Nobody wants to feel like you gave them something. They want to feel like they earned it and put skin in the game," he says. "Their level of commitment would be different. Your business will do better if you let them participate." 

To hear more from Marcus Lemonis, watch the video below. 

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