Whether working as a consultant, sole proprietor, or employee for a company, the time may come when you wonder if you are being taken advantage of or worse, cheated or used.

Noticing trends and signs of foul play lately, I’ve been curious about what’s going on with management. One of the strongest reasons I dislike corporate working environments is that I find business decisions regarding employees unethical, unfair and more often than not, morale killers.

Nobody likes feeling used.

However, the same behavior is also found in consulting and sub-contracting work environments. Worse, in both consulting and company employee work relationships, those who do the work sometimes work themselves right out of their job.

To get a better understanding of what’s happening, I started a discussion called How Not To Give Away The Farm – Business Ethics


1. When you give advice to someone, for free, and they turn around and use it for their own purposes, such as to make themselves look good at their job, do you keep giving the information? (Some people don’t buy software manuals for example. They come to forums, asking how to use something, so their employers think they had this knowledge.)

2. If you provide a service, as a consultant for example, and you know the company didn’t offer your service before, but now that they saw how you do it, they no longer use you and do it themselves, does the consultant have any recourse? Is there a way to prevent this from happening?

3. What if your boss asks you to train your replacement, who is in India? (American companies are outsourcing.)

How many free giveaways or trial products “give away the farm”? Do they really attract sales leads? Of these leads, how many (if any) become long term customers?

A sampling of the valuable responses:

Do they understand why you do it the way you do it, or are they just copying? Someone who is copying will be able to do what they have observed, but won’t understand what they have not yet experienced. Copying without understanding the foundation of decisions leads to mistakes; as soon as conditions change or are misunderstood, the copying is flawed.

The business that exploits you is the business that has provided you with a valuable lesson, and fixed a loophole in your contracts or business dealings henceforth. The guy who negotiates a contract is contractually and ethically obliged to get the very best deal he can for his company. It is your job to get the best deal for yourself too by negotiating to a compromise position where you both get as much as you can.

EVERY free consultation I gave in the past NEVER got me the business I wanted. The potential clients were happy to have me over for free but never valued enough what I was telling them.

It’s an awesome (free, but still worthy) Cre8asiteforums Business and Marketing forum discussion.

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Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)

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