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How to Learn About Your Competition

Ethical ways to get the goods on your competitors before you start your own business

By Paul and Sarah Edwards

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I want to start a business based on an idea I received from a former co-worker whom I will call Jane. Jane and I planned to go into business together using what she learned when she worked for a company that has no known competitors. But Jane has passed away.

The company she worked for is for sale, but I think the owner is asking too much. I still believe I could run it bigger and better, so how do I find out about his business without asking him outright? If I act like I am interested in purchasing it only to find out how he operates, well, that would be unethical.

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