A few weeks ago I attended a conference relating to venture capital in Iowa. During the talk several of the panelists commented that they would not sign a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting them from discussing a potential business idea they learned about from someone seeking capital. The venture capitalists did not want potential liability for ideas that they might hear several times in a week. Almost every single panelist indicated that sliding a non-disclosure agreement over the table at the beginning of the meeting was a deal killer.

That discussion led into a great discussion involving non-compete agreements and employee non-solicitation agreements. The participants had mixed feelings about non-compete agreements. It is often tough for entrepreneurial types to admit that restricting another person from competition is a good idea. However, all were committed in the importance of employee non-solicitation agreements. An employee non-solicitation agreement prevents one of your employees from hiring one or more of your employees for a set time period, generally about 1 year.

In the end the panelists believed that the human capital was critical to the success of the business, perhaps even more so than the clients themselves. An interesting take indeed.