God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28 (NIV)
Sometime back one of my employees decided they wanted to leave my company and go start their own. A few days later I learned that they were building their business from my existing clients. It was apparent that almost 100% of their business was being built on clients that they had carved out of my business. That makes employee number nine who has left one of my companies to secretly build their own from my existing clients. I will explain why most of the executives who leave my companies don’t go looking for jobs but instead start their own companies.
I was sharing with a friend this phenomenon of employees leaving and starting companies from assets and resources they have carved out of their employment with me; using computers, databases, phones, and even slogans they took from their employment with me. Then my friend says, “Next time you should really have a strong Non-Compete agreement and sue those morons.” I caught him mid-air and said, “They are not morons; they are my children; I gave birth to them.” I continued, “Instead of a non-compete agreement, I prefer a multiplier agreement.” You can come work for me, learn everything from me, take a few resources, and start something that looks like what I am doing. That’s called multiplication, not competition.
We don’t like it when people copy us, use our resources to better themselves, or prosper from anything that they curved out from our assets. Because we are competitive at heart, we have a certain level of “I want to be the only one who has it” mentality.
But when you think about it, God allowed us to have one of his best competitive advantages: procreation. In Genesis 1:28 he tells us to go compete with him. “Multiply,” he says. We can make human beings just like God. He gave us the secret recipe, the blueprints. He created us so we may rule like he rules. God never made us sign a non-compete agreement and reserve creation only to himself. He liberalized it. It’s “open source.” When the disciples were crowded in one place he allowed disagreements to arise among them so they can spread the gospel.
If you are a leader, learn to develop this multiplier mentality. It’s what keeps the world going. It’s what introduces new ideas to the world, new technologies. If you are a follower, you can choose to be mentored by your existing employer instead of staging a rebellion. If your leader is not the mentoring kind, find one who will mentor you and release you to multiply. I have had three employees who made it clear from the beginning they were working with me to be mentored. I released them and they have built very strong businesses from all-new clients. Some of them are now bigger than me. That’s the spirit of multiplication.
We can avoid painful separations and competitive atmospheres if we can learn that the only way a body grows is through cell division.