Non-compete clauses are very important for every business. They’re not only a smart precautionary tool, but they’re also a competitive advantage, since they can prevent unfair competition or keep your employees from moving to your competitors and taking your customers with them. On the other hand, having a strong, strict, and enforceable non-compete clause in your employment agreement can also hinder your ability to attract qualified, creative, and motivated intrapreneurs or “supertalents” to your business.
The advantages of having highly talented intrapreneurs on your team are clear. These are the employees that take your business to the next level and who use their entrepreneurial skills and creativity to help you stay ahead of your competitors. Moreover, unlike entrepreneurs/founders, intrapreneurs aren’t faced with the constant pressure of running the company and seeking funding to support it, which means they can focus all of their effort on improving your products or developing new ones.
Still, don’t be misled. Even though intrapreneurs are your employees, most often they’re also entrepreneurs, because they have the same entrepreneurial mindset you have. That means they have the drive to keep creating and developing, and may even have the desire to start a new business. That’s where your non-compete clause comes into play.
But it’s a delicate balance. Yes, a strict, well-drafted, enforceable non-compete clause is a good way to protect your company, but if it’s too strict, it can also limit your employees’ entrepreneurial desires. This simple contract clause can be a huge determining factor in whether or not talented, entrepreneurial people choose to work for you.
The average employee expects a non-compete clause and likely won’t even pay much attention to it, considering it non-negotiable. But intrapreneurs are rebels, and “supertalents” are rare — and highly sought-after. They don’t want to be limited in what they can do or achieve for themselves. So if your clause is stricter than others, they will notice, and that could deplete any motivation they had to work for you—and if they do join your company, they will likely be discouraged and won’t stay long, leaving your business soon enough for another company or to start a new one, where they can better use their creativity and their innovative skills.
Where’s the middle ground? Sadly, there’s no pat answer. The right clause will depend on the company’s priorities and the employee’s. But finding the right clause in each situation is key. This small detail in your legal documents can have a huge effect on your business.
At Venturebruck, we can help you attract and retain “super talents” or intrapreneurs without putting your company's non-compete policy at risk.
We’ll help you draft contract clauses that protect your company while still attracting awesome people with great talent.