Why your small business, your client, and their carrots are like Eve, the snake and the apple

A bad carrot

As a small business, at one point or another, you inevitably will be offered a carrot. Whether you are starting out or have been established for a little while, there are people out there who can smell you desire to go to the next level with your business, so they offer to “help” you get there. Here’s a quoted example from an email where one such carrot was offered to me just recently:

Basically, I am developing a social media website and have tons of people that are waiting for me to launch.

Are you willing to help create aspx pages for me calling webservices controlled by my data architecture team?

Due to the potential growth, most of the individuals that are working this deal are working for stock..  Are you up for that kind of arrangement?   You wont have to quit your day job, but this will definitely lead to WAY MORE WORK…

Who knows, when I replied to him this way I may have walked away from a chance to make millions. I will keep you posted.

Thank you for the offer. Unfortunately I have been a part of a number of arrangements like the one you are proposing (stock for services) and none of them have worked out too well for me. So after the last one I decided that if I am going to work without getting paid it would be  on something I have a controlling interest in, or for charity.

Carrots can come in all forms. The promise to send you “Way more work” or “buy more product” . Stock offerings in a startup. A promise to refer lots of business to you if you do a good job. I could go on all day. Some carrot salesmen are better than others, and they package them in all sorts of ways. What they have in common is they are all after the same thing. They want to take advantage of you. They want you to work for free, or for a lot less than what you would normally charge. They want you to take a loss on selling something to them. Sometimes they want you to finish in half the time it should take to do the job properly. They basically always want you to go outside of  your business model. You setup your schedule and pricing based upon the time you need to spend and the profit margins you need, to achieve in order to stay in business and be successful. The minute someone compromises this, they aren’t helping take you to build your business, they are planting the explosives that will help it to implode. If you want to spend extra hours working on something, build something for yourself, not someone else.

Carrots are poisonous. They aren’t good for you. If you see one, run faraway and do so as quickly as you can. Eve thought she needed to move away from the plan too. When the snake offered her the apple, she ate. I think it’s fair to say she regretted that decision.

3 Comments

  • 1
    GB
    December 10, 2010 - | Permalink

    As this was written for me, I will respond. It’s all good advice, I suggest your readers follow it. I look forward to future posts. Perhaps you can give some insight to us other small business owners on how to meet deadlines, return phone calls, stop over promising and under delivering and how not to write emails and blog posts while in an emotional state. And maybe most importantly, to take responsibility for one’s actions and mistakes without blaming others. I do appreciate the personal blog post though. It’s all good advice.

  • 2
    December 10, 2010 - | Permalink

    Interesting insight GB. I think I touched on that though. When one has to step outside of their business model, their business starts to implode, hence the deadline issues, failure to return phone calls and delivery issues. Once you step away from eating your carrots, and things go back to normal, these issues tend to go away. Don’t really deal with them anymore. Glad you stopped by.

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