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Value Creation Blog

Is Your Spouse Your Most Trusted Advisor?

Posted by Josh Patrick

adviceI hope the answer to this question is yes.  I know Suzanne has the most to lose if I decide to make a really boneheaded move.  She might not have the same technical knowledge as others.  At the same time she is more likely to ask me tough questions I need to answer.

Let’s look at the other options:

Could it be your accountant?

Let’s assume that you have a really smart accountant servicing your company.  My first question is how much experience have they had as an owner of a company?  My second is what is the training that a CPA gets on how to run a successful company?

Most CPA’s are employees of their CPA firms.  They’ve never started something from scratch and they don’t really know what drives a company for future activities.  A CPA is a historian.  They track what’s happened in your company.  They don’t track what’s likely to happen.

What about key employees in your company?

Key employees in your company are a better choice than your CPA.  There is a problem with key employees, if they really disagree with you there is a chance you’re going to fire them.

Key employees will tell you what they think up to a point.  After that, you’re on your own.  This is especially true if you have a history of pushing back hard on things you disagree with.  I think you need to take key employees off the list.

How about a consultant?

You can always hire a consultant or coach.  Again, most of these people aren’t going to tell you what you need to hear.  They are going to do their best to tell you what you want to hear.  After all, if they tell you what they really think, you might fire them and consultants are easier to fire than employees.

How about a friend of yours who’s not in business?

Your friends might know you and they might even have had some experience with the issue you’re facing in your business.  They can give you their opinion.  If they do you have to remember that it’s just their opinion.  They haven’t had any experience with having their advice work.  And, if it doesn’t work, it’s no skin off their back.

How about a friend who’s had a very successful business?

Now we’re starting to get someplace.  If you can get advice from a friend or even better yet someone who you don’t know well, you’re likely to get a more honest answer.  Someone you know who’s been there and done that can probably think about your opportunity or potential problems in a way that few others can.  They might even be in a position to give you pretty good advice.

You have to remember that with another successful businessperson it will be from their experience and not from yours.  You will need to analyze whether their advice works for your situation.

Who has the most to win or lose?

My father has a saying, “it matters whose ox is being gored.”  In other words who has the most to win or lose in a particular conversation.

I would submit that your spouse is the one you should have the most serious conversation with.  He or she has a real vested interest.  If you can’t trust what they think, who can you trust?  If your idea works, they win right along with you.  If the idea doesn’t work they suffer just like you and are probably more scared about the potential loss.

So, next time you have a major decision to make why don’t you talk to your spouse first.  I bet you’ll be glad you did.  If you’re not glad it’ll just be because you heard something that might make you pause before you make a really big mistake.

What do you think?  Are you willing to try your spouse as your first sounding board?

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Topics: business relationship management, advisors, spouse

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