If you are currently employed or have just left a job, take a few minutes to think about how your employer will react when it learns of your new venture. If you are in an entirely different industry, there should be no serious problem. On the other hand, if you intend to do business in the same industry, or to call upon the same customers as you did before, the employer may have the right to stop you from doing so.
The key questions you should ask yourself are:
- Did I sign something that prohibited me from moonlighting or working for a competitor?
- Am I using any confidential information that I learned at my old job?
- Have I taken with me any drawings, customer lists, price sheets or other materials?
- Did I use my employer's laboratory equipment or facilities to establish my company?
- Is a fellow employee joining me in the new venture?
If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," you better talk to a lawyer. It is difficult enough to start a new business without having to worry about a legal claim from a prior employer.