Lets get ethical, ethical.
March 20, 2012 3:38 PM Subscribe
Is it ethically questionable to knowingly start working for your future competition?
(annon because my metafilter screen name is quite traceable to me, and I'm doing a bunch of job hunting right now).
I just moved to a new city, and have been having trouble finding work (moved because my wife got a very nice job, that almost supports us...). The plan since moving has always been that I work a "day job" in admin or throw-away job and start a small business on the side, allowing it to slowly replace my day-job income. I've got several years under my belt working for quality-oriented, well known businesses of this type, and really love it... It's been my plan all along to work for myself.
Regardless, finding even your run of the mill admin job is apparently a little difficult to come by in our new digs, but very recently, a couple local mom-and-pop level businesses have actually approached me and have suggested that there might be work for me there, specifically to help their wholesale programs grow a little bit, and help them iron out some of their back-end systems.
Now, normally, I'd just jump on this and just charge them a consulting rate...but I know for a fact, that neither shop could afford it. And for the timebeing while we continue to get settled, we could use a steady-ish paycheck, even if it wasn't all that much money.
But I hesitate; these kids are going to be my direct future competition, in the near future at that. Honestly, I don't really want to help out my competition with some of these efficiency programs I can put in place; I can already deliver a better product than they are, and I know quite a few ways to reduce overhead and deliver much better wholesale experience than either of these places do.
Is it ethical to start working for them knowing that when I quit, it will be to become their direct competition? Is it just dumb to start working for them and give them parts of the edge I have over them? Or is it cunningly smart to do so, learn their weaknesses and exploit them later? Even if it is ethically questionable, or wrong, should I still do it?
(note that neither of these places is going to have me sign a non-compete...thats kind of unheard of in this industry, until you get into the larger...much larger companies.)