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Questions to ask about a non-compete agreement

You sign a contract with a non-compete agreement. At the time, you're just happy to have a job. Ten years later, though, you decide to leave that job and go into business by yourself.

It's time to take another look at that non-compete agreement. Your employer does not want you to become the competition, and that clause makes it legally impossible for you to do so. Here are a few good questions to ask:

  • Is your new business idea going to compete directly with the company you are leaving?
  • Does the non-compete agreement have a start and end date? If you have been there for 10 years, does it still stand?
  • If it does still stand, how long does it last after you quit your job?
  • Is there a geographic element to the non-compete agreement? Perhaps you cannot start a business in Melbourne, but you can start it elsewhere within the state. Perhaps you can't start it in Florida at all.
  • Was the agreement explained to you when you signed the contract?
  • What happens if another company bought out your employer? Maybe you want to leave because you do not like the new management. You never signed a non-compete agreement with them, so does the agreement from your previous employer still stand?
  • What does the agreement say if your company is going to operate online?

These are not all of the questions that you need to ask, but they are a good place to get started. As you move forward, make sure you know exactly what rights you have and what your options really are.

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