How to avoid training a competitor
September 16, 2013 11:35 AM Subscribe
My husband and I have a small business. It is beginning to do well so we are thinking of hiring a part-time commission-based sales person and even have a specific guy in mind. However, this makes us very nervous: the whole business is predicated on relationship-building within a rather small, tight-knit industry, coupled with not-commonly available knowledge of how certain things work. How do smart small businesses manage their salesforce without essentially providing paid training to a future competitor?
posted by rada to work & money (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
To be clear, it takes a lot of effort to break into the industry. Because of this, there isn't a whole lot of competition: over the past couple years, we've watched at least a dozen close competitors go out of business. The reason that we did not fold like the others is because I'd been making enough money to carry the household while my husband was out there hustling. So now that we are (finally!) seeing some decent profits and (finally!) getting too much business to handle on our own, we don't want to provide the same life-sustaining cash flow to a smart, entrepreneurial self-starter who will naturally - and who could blame them - want to take off on their own once they know the who and the how.
We realize that a non-compete is one way to handle it and we would appreciate any advice from small business owners who have experience with these and can offer specific pointers. (We are in Minnesota where non-competes are enforceable, with some reasonable caveats, but any personal experiences are welcome). However, we have very little faith in the formal legal process - we've been through the blood bath before so we know how mind-bogglingly expensive these things are even when you end up settling. Are there any business/human strategies that can help avoid these types of situations?
FWIW, we are both very much into "there is enough pie for everyone" philosophy but at the same time, we don't need to give our business away.