Work is essentially an exchange of some sort in return for something of value to each party to the agreement.
Lawyers call the agreement between parties a ‘contract’ and the thing of value is known as ‘consideration.’
So a simple contract would be something like this:
“In consideration of you paying me the sum of $20 I will walk your dog and wash your car.”
However you don’t really need a law degree to know that business deals only really work when both sides receive something of value from the process.
Last week I was reminded of this when I was clearing out my office and I had come across some work I had done for an acquaintance of mine who ran an online business.
We had agreed that I would do some writing for his website in return for him doing some design work on mine.
We were both to get something of value from the deal so, even though no money was to change hands, we were both satisfied with the deal we had struck.
In due course I sat down, did the work and submitted it for approval. I heard nothing back.
I followed up to check that the work had been received and eventually got a quick reply saying something like:
“Yeah I have got the stuff you have written. It is great. It is already up on my site. Thanks a lot.”
And that was the last I heard from this guy.
From that point onwards emails, phone calls and Skype messages went unanswered and he never did do the work on my site.
Whether he ever intended to do the work he had promised I will never know but isn’t it terribly sad that there are so many people who find this kind of behavior totally acceptable?