This is tough one, becaue I am dealing with the same thing right now with my business. I would try to pay the employees as much as you can, this way they feel that they are not working for free, even a little bit will help them stay interested.
I have a partner who works with me on my site and I only pay him what I can, but he knows that the idea is a great idea and very marketable, so he agreed to stay on and work his tail off because he sees how the site can and will be profitable down the road; advertising revenue, the sale of the website and business, etc...
I personally don`t make much with the site, but I also see the income potential down the road, as does my partner and that is why we have both agreed, contracted and not verbal, to stick with this for the long haul. If your employees can see the long term benefits of this business they should have no problem being paid what you can afford to pay them now, because the long term payout will be very profitable.
The ConsumerTreehouse.com Team