Starting a Business

Can I work as a freelancer if I signed a non-compete agreement?

I signed a non-compete agreement for a technology company I worked for in Michigan. Can I work as an independent contractor after I left the company? The agreement states three years, but I think that is very long in the world of technology.
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Non-compete clauses are very snarly things. Courts generally don't like them because, in effect, they prevent people from earning a livelihood.

Whether the technology company could enforce the provision depends on a number of factors, all of which are weighed and balanced against each other. These include:

* The time frame of the non-compete (yours, you say, is three years)

* Whether there's any geographic scope to the non-compete (are you prevented from working in Michigan, or anywhere in the U.S.?)

* Whether there are any industry limitations (e.g., prevented from working for any kind of company or only financial services companies)

* The level of expertise you have/access to confidential information you obtained (in other words, were you an essential, high-level executive, or just part of the IT pool?).

The last thing you need, though, is to be hauled into court to fight this out. Bring your non-compete agreement to an employment attorney in your state to evaluate the risks of moving forward in light of its wording.

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