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How Your Spouse Can Help Find Future Business

May 26th 2015
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According to a New York Timesarticle, the average American knows 600 people. If you are married, your “better half” likely knows plenty of people from his or her work and social circles. But can she spot business opportunities? Can he explain what you do for a living?

Start with the Basics
Accounting is an honorable profession. You don’t expect your spouse to hand out your business cards or ask probing tax questions. Sit down one sunny afternoon and explain that sometimes business opportunities pop up in the most unlikely circumstances. She might be asked: “What does your husband do?” Provide a simple, easy-to-deliver explanation for her. If she answers, “He’s an accountant,” or “He’s a bean counter,” it’s a stereotype. An example of a good explanation is: “He’s a forensic accountant. He gets brought in during messy divorce situations where one spouse suspects the other is hiding assets.”

Let’s assume you have a conventional practice working with individuals and small businesses. Can your spouse spot an opportunity and tactfully position you? A financial advisor in Northern California has a spouse with an excellent technique. When she is asked “What do you do?” she explains she runs the household and raises their children, mentioning her husband’s job. Sometimes they start talking about their own investments, assuming as an advisor’s spouse that she understands the terminology. She is brilliant. During the story, if they describe a situation that didn’t work out well, she interjects: “You should really talk with my husband. He may be able to help you with that problem.” She then lets her husband know the person is expecting a call.

Often, couples attending parties find themselves in foursomes making conversation. “What do you do?” is a typical icebreaker. One person I encountered has a great response: “I’m a [job]. But you should really ask my wife. She’s the one with the really interesting career.” He has tactfully set the stage for her to tell her story.

Advertising Traits
What do people look for when hiring a professional? They want confidentiality, integrity, honesty, commitment, responsiveness, and more. If you were ever a Boy Scout, you recall the Scout Law: “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, … .” (The Girl Scouts likely have something similar.) It’s a shopping list of attributes. Can your spouse tactfully advertise yours?

Here’s the scenario: It’s a Friday night. You, your spouse, and friends have a reservation for dinner at an upscale restaurant. It’s five minutes past the reservation time. Everyone is standing at the bar, except you. Why are you late? Your wife has a great explanation.

“I can see it now. He was heading out when the phone rang. He never ignores a ringing phone. It’s a client. They have a problem. He took off his coat, sat back down, and is helping the client. Who knows when he will get here? Let’s get our table. He will join us when he arrives.”

What does a potential client want? Someone who puts their interests ahead of his or her own personal life. Someone who answers his or her phone. A person who shares the client’s concerns and addresses their problems now. Her explanation made all those points.

Obviously, confidentiality is paramount. You don’t talk about your clients, but they are allowed, even encouraged, to tell friends they work with you, especially if they are very satisfied. When something goes wrong in a relationship, friends might ask your spouse for information.

Here’s an example of a good response: “She doesn’t bring work into our relationship. We have a deal. I don’t tell her how to file taxes, and she doesn’t tell me how to do dental implants.” He might add, “In her profession, even the identity of clients is confidential information.”

Friends hesitate doing business with people they know because they are worried people will talk. This tactfully confirms to potential clients confidentiality shouldn’t be a concern.

You and your spouse each know about 600 people. Do all of your friends know who you are, what you do, and why you are good?

About the author:
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be found on


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