From the February 2009 issue of Entrepreneur

When you're a startup entrepreneur, the people you work with are some of your most valuable assets. Your team motivates you when you're down, shares their experiences when you need new strategies and partners with you when you're looking to open new markets.

Your challenge is to motivate and inspire all your workers, many of whom may not be full-time employees. You also need independent contractors and consultants to meet your clients' expectations. Your success depends on how well you focus their attention on your requirements and leverage their limited time and resources to benefit your business.

People invest more in their work when they believe that their contributions are valued and they share in the reward of a job well done. It's vital that your team members feel as though their opinions matter and they have a stake in your company's success. Keep them motivated by discovering what's truly important to them and incorporating that into your business plan. Here's how:

1. Set specific expectations with the input of team members. You'll achieve the best results when people have a clear understanding of what's expected of them. Motivate team members by giving them a sense of importance; encourage them to provide input on decisions that directly affect them. Ask them to define their expected outcomes and come up with an action plan to achieve them. Their participation will improve your business and increase their commitment level. When workers "own" a specific project, they're often galvanized to go the extra mile to make sure it succeeds.

2. Encourage collaboration. Promote teamwork by fostering communication. All business models and strategies are unproven until they're tested. Your team members are experts in their areas. Allow them to collectively improve your business acumen by sharing success stories and new strategies. Developing and testing unique solutions bands people together and makes your team stronger.

3. Provide space to innovate. People get excited when they learn new skills or methods to achieve success. Arrange a luncheon so your team can connect with each other and discuss how best to achieve your company's goals. This sets a solid foundation for your team to approach new challenges together. Let your team have creative time without you; your strong personality could stifle originality. When people are part of a solution, they're more inspired to make sure it works.

4. Share information when you know it. People feel they're an important part of your business and vested in its success when they're kept in the loop. Let them know, as specifically as possible, how their actions, industry trends and outside events affect your business. The more upfront you are, the more they'll feel committed to your success.

Keep people motivated by treating them how you want to be treated and letting them contribute their individual expertise. Knowing they're an intrinsic part of your future success inspires them to achieve more with less.

Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business. Write to him at romanus@kickstartguy.com.