Don’t Fall for Dangling Carrot Syndrome

Incentive-based compensation…

Good work will lead to more immediately.

Work on commission and your income is only limited by your effort.

I pay on percentage… if I make money, you make money.

Let me pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today.

Work your ass off and maybe you’ll get repaid in proper proportion for all of the effort and value you give away, is how that should read.

This is all just more of the same… what I call Dangling Carrot Syndrome. They’re cockamamie schemes concocted by exploiters to do one thing: get out of paying you fairly and squarely.

Honestly, sweethearts, don’t fall for this crap. These are just more ways unethical people try to take advantage of you and be unfairly enriched by your good, hard work.

It’s a con. They sense your neediness for money, your desire to please. So they try to manipulate and smooth talk you into giving away your value with the promise of great rewards—in the future.

They prey on your kind, giving, nurturing nature. In the end, the only one who benefits is them.

It so disheartening to see those in our industry being taken advantage of like this. It’s not going to lead you into a financially successful, profitable business. All these types of arrangements do is suck you dry of your precious time and energy, cause you to give away the very value you are in business to offer, for only the promise of just rewards. And in the meantime, you are distracted from finding the real clients who truly value and appreciate you and your talents and skills.

That’s not what you want for your life, is it? Your dreams are just as important as theirs, aren’t they? But how will you achieve your life dreams if you allow others to take you for a ride and you engage in “opportunities” that don’t support the creation of a solvent, sustainable business? What about your children and your family? Is that fair to them? For your time, energy, hopefulness and good gifts to be squandered on hair-brained schemes and people who are only out to exploit you?

Stop letting clients lead you around by the nose. YOU lead your business. YOU decide what you are and what you aren’t. YOU decide what your role is and what it’s not. You are not an employee. You don’t need any “incentive” to be paid. You have a right to be paid today–at the rate and method you determine your business needs–for the good, honest work and expertise you deliver today. Not later. Not if… NOW. Insist on being respected and valued. Promises and dangling carrots are NOT forms of payment.

9 Responses

  1. Hope Gamble says:

    I really enjoyed your post! I am always anxious to obtain clients, but realize that it takes time. One question, can you reccommend how I can determine my price list? I know what to charge for my time, but it’s the tangible items that I am not sure about. Thanks!

  2. Stay tuned, Hope… I’ll be elaborating more on this in future posts.

    In the meantime, what I would want you to think about is this: Are you selling hours or are you selling a solution?

  3. Yelena says:

    Something to add to your post:

    I see a lot of “dangling carrots” RFPs out there and always wonder:

    1. A VA (or any freelancer for that matter) signing up for this kind of deal basically depends on the strategy and tactics developed by the client. If the strategy has holes in it or is half-baked, then it doesn’t matter how hard a VA works – there won’t be much in the way of results.

    2. Unless a VA has complete access to all the analytics and tracking and time to get all the relevant stats, how would she know whether the goals are being achieved (other than relying on client’s word).

  4. I totally agree with you. Far smarter to develop marketing and strategies that pull clients into your pipelines and your processes. This would also lend to prequalifying efforts and reduce the amount of time wasted jumping through unproductive hoops with no return for the effort.

  5. Carolyn says:

    No truer words were ever spoken, Danielle. Having recently extracted myself from a ‘promising’ work relationship, I totally agree with you.

  6. Geri says:

    I think if the incentive is big enough it could work — it would have to be MORE than what you would have made on a purely hourly basis. A large percentage — perhaps 30% of gross sales — might be a win-win. Although I have no idea if that’s the kind of percentages we are talking about here.

  7. Nope, it’s a bunch of bullshit. It amounts to working on speculation without any guarantee that they would even make any money, much less enough to make it worth your while for having spent your time and energy laboring over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this kind of arrangement fail miserably (through no fault of the service provider who provided what they were supposed to). And the service providers, despite all THEIR great work, end up footing the bill and not getting paid for what they’ve done.

    If a so-called client is successful enough (and many of them who propose this kind of arrangement are not) to have something that’s worth a damn, then they should have enough money to simply pay you what you require, in full and in advance. Professionals don’t need incentives to be professional and do good work. And as independent professionals, we are not responsible for their success or failure. It amounts to subsidizing someone else’s business. Yet they are placing that responsibility on your shoulders when you work on incentive. Like I say, it’s just another bullshit way exploiters try to get out of paying us fairly and squarely.

  8. Thank you Danielle,

    I normally do not fall for these obvious traps, but this blog is a very good reminder for vulnerable people.


  9. Cindy Gray says:

    Absolutely the truth.. I cannot believe the found me… the oldest trick in the book. I fell victim to this also even after I knew about “The Dangling Carrot Syndrome” great job… Thank you

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