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The fear of employee becoming competitor

The fear of employee becoming competitor (i.e. key employees leaving to start their own ventures and then competing with you) for the same business if very common among entrepreneurs. It’s a concern that echoes through the SME sector, leading many business owners to adopt a centralized control approach with very limited delegation of key roles. While this may seem like a protective measure, it can significantly impede the scalability and innovation potential of the business.


The Challenge of Control

The common scenario unfolds like this: SME owners, harboring concerns about potential competition from departing employees, tend to keep a tight grip on decision-making. This approach, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Micromanagement stifles creativity, hinders employee development, and restricts the very scalability that business owners aspire to achieve.


Shifting the Mindset

To address this challenge, a shift in mindset is imperative. Instead of viewing employees’ entrepreneurial aspirations as a threat, business owners should embrace them as a testament to the talent they’ve nurtured. Recognizing and leveraging the entrepreneurial spirit within the organization can lead to a more innovative and dynamic workplace.


Building a Culture of Loyalty

Rather than relying solely on legal contracts, fostering a culture of loyalty can be a powerful tool to retain valuable talent. Employees are more likely to stay when they feel a sense of belonging and purpose within the organization. Transparent communication about the company’s vision and involving employees in decision-making processes can go a long way in building this loyalty.


Tailored Employment Contracts

While non-compete and non-solicit clauses have their place, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the most effective. Crafting employment contracts that align with both the company’s needs and the employee’s career goals can strike a balance. This may involve specifying the scope of non-compete clauses, ensuring they are reasonable and fair to both parties.


Mentorship and Skill Development

Encouraging entrepreneurial skills doesn’t have to be a threat. Business owners can take a proactive approach by providing mentorship and skill development opportunities within the organization. This not only enhances the capabilities of the workforce but also strengthens their allegiance to the company that invests in their professional growth.


Collaboration over Competition

Promoting a collaborative environment where employees can contribute ideas and actively participate in decision-making can diminish the desire to seek greener pastures. When employees feel their input is valued, they are more likely to stay and contribute to the company’s success rather than branching out on their own.


Strategic Partnerships

Consider exploring strategic partnerships with employees who express entrepreneurial aspirations. Collaborating on ventures aligned with the company’s goals can not only retain key talent but also open up new avenues for business growth. It’s a win-win situation that transforms the perceived threat into a mutually beneficial opportunity.



The fear of employees becoming competitors need not be a hindrance to growth. By embracing a shift in mindset, fostering a culture of loyalty, and exploring innovative solutions such as tailored employment contracts and strategic partnerships, businesses can not only retain their key talent but also pave the way for sustained scalability and success.


Empowering your employees to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams within the organization can be the catalyst for unparalleled innovation and growth. It’s time to view your employee aspirations not as a threat, but as a testament to the thriving talent within your company that will be instrumental in its growth.

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