One of my favorite clients just told me that she was filling out a credit application to add another card for herself to her company’s fleet, when she received shocking news. Turns out her husband, whom she runs the family business with, had opened two new business credit cards and racked up thousands of dollars in personal credit card charges. When she confronted him, he denied it at first, and then finally confessed to it. She was the victim of financial infidelity by the man she trusted the most, her husband and business partner.
Has this happened to you? Whether or not you’re married to your business partner, financial infidelity is a huge problem, both in personal and business relationships. Going behind your partner’s back and spending money without telling them is a serious breach of trust and is responsible for breaking up both businesses and marriages.
So if you’re a victim of financial infidelity, what should you do? Do you just move forward without addressing the issue, do you severe ties or do you seek help for your finances? Here are some ways to handle the financial infidelity:
- SEEK THE TRUTH – Small business owners work harder than anyone to make ends meet. When someone “cheats” or steals from a business, it’s hard to trust that person again. First things first, seek out the truth. If the person is an employee who comes forward without being pressured to, and is truly sorry, you might consider letting them keep their job. But if someone’s behavior is showing signs of deceit and he or she is not related to you, cut ties immediately.
- SEEK CREDIT COUNSELING – If the person who has committed financial infidelity is a spouse, then seek credit and marriage counseling. Your spouse has to be willing to go without hesitation and commit to being honest with you and to the process.
- RUN A CREDIT CHECK – If your spouse has opened a number of cards without your permission, make sure you run a credit check immediately. Let him or her know that you are doing this before you do it and then make sure together, you cut the cards up then pay off any credit cards that are not in both your names or in the company business name.
- ALERT YOUR BOOKKEEPER/ACCOUNTANT – Financial infidelity may seem like a personal issue, but it’s important to alert your bookkeeper or accountant about possible spending that is taking place without your knowledge. Your bookkeeper or accountant is the person who is supposed to be watching out for you or your business’ finances, so if something doesn’t look right in your books, your bookkeeper or accountant should be the first one to alert you that something is wrong.
Any kind of infidelity takes a terrible toll on a couple or business relationship, but financial infidelity is not only a breach of trust, it can ruin your financial future. My client now has control of her company’s finances. Her husband confessed and they both went to credit and marriage counseling and their business is back on track. But for a time, their marriage and business were on the rocks.
So for those of you who are in the midst of financial infidelity, there’s hope out there. You can recover. Seek help, and as the saying goes, “the truth shall set you free.”