I have run a small business for nearly 10 years. I have never used a non-compete agreement because I believe if an employee stays with my company only because of a piece of paper, they are not going to be a very happy or productive employee. i did one time lose business to an employee who left and executed her own contract with my client. But that was after she had worked for me for 3 years so I felt I got a fair return on her time with my company. Other than that, no one has ever left with assets. Instead of using a non-compete agreement, small business leaders should create a company that retains employees by being an attractive place to work.