Your Spouse May Be Your Best Adviser

By Josh Patrick

Your best planning is perhaps closer than you think: Ask your spouse. It’s not hard, but asking does take courage and a willingness to hear a sometimes brutal truth.

You’ll get the truth. Almost no one will tell you the complete truth about a business idea, let alone the brutally frank kind. Your employees are afraid you’ll fire them. Ditto your professional advisers. Your business peers probably don’t care enough to disagree with you.

Maybe one source besides your spouse will tell you the truth: a peer-to-peer business group (and then only if the group is any good). A surprising amount of the time, it’s up to your spouse to tell you the truth.

This becomes especially true if you’re thinking about leaving your business. Everyone else who’s a stakeholder will give an opinion on this subject that might not necessarily be in your best interest. Most will tell you that your leaving is a terrible idea: Your employees will instantly fear losing a job; your suppliers will worry that the new owner won’t buy from them; and your advisers know that once you sell, you won’t be a client anymore.

The tough questions. Really, how many people actually take you to task for your really dumb ideas? If you’re like most business owners, you have a tough skin that helps you get through the day. And your spouse is probably one of the few who can pierce that exterior to ask tough questions.

Also, your spouse won’t let you off the hook. At times it’s uncomfortable, and it’s almost always valuable, at least in terms of business advice.

What makes this idea good? I come home with what I know is a great idea and I tell my wife, Suzanne. She then often gives me one of those are-you-out-of-your-mind looks and says, “So what’s so good about it?”

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