Saturday, March 10, 2007

How to quit your job, compete with your old boss and not get sued in the process

Some bridges are merely burned. Others are scorched.

Elaine Browne and her business partners, Federico Lupo and Dario Arias, knew the latter applied to them shortly after opening their New York City hair salon, Trillium. "We found out we were being sued during our second week when the affidavit came," says Browne. "We were shocked."

The reason for the lawsuit? Browne, Lupo and Arias, sensitive types who will only cop to being in their 30s and 40s, worked together for years at a hair salon known as the John Sahag Workshop before collectively quitting and creating a new company--effectively competing with their former salon.

It's a common gripe among many business owners. You hire employees, teach them everything you know and groom them for a long future at your business. Then one day, they're out the door, starting their own business with an indirect mission: to compete with you.