As a business grows — the challenges to the founders grow. It’s like dating: when you start dating, you just need to find fun things to do; but that’s a different skill set than, say, parenting or providing for a household! What if your partner is great at the early challenges, but not at the later ones?
Before we answer this, the first step is identifying when it’s happening — and tell him. Maybe he realizes it? Maybe he doesn’t. There are two great ways to identify it when this happens. Sometimes, your partner will realize it himself, with a little prompting. People who are more honest about their own personalities tend to do this.
Sometimes, he’ll rise to the challenge. Sometimes, he won’t. But it’s important to give him the respect to let him know that you want him to rise to the challenge. And then, if he doesn’t: when you do confront him, he will be psychologically and emotionally prepared, because you will have already suggested to him to rise to the next level.
If he doesn’t rise to the challenge — and 9 out of 10 times, they don’t (but enough do, so it is definitely worth keeping an open mind) — then the challenge is what to do.
The best medicine, of course, is the preventive medicine: an ounce of prevention, as Ben Franklin said.
Talk at the very beginning of the project, about how both of you will need to rise to challenges you don’t expect — and do miserable work that you hate, but that will help you grow. Is he ready for it? Does he want to seize the opportunity? If not, then lets write in the various contingency plans directly into your founder’s prenup! This deals with question like: what are the general types of challenges you expect both of you to rise to? The specific ones? In each case, what do you do, or not do, if-or-when they don’t?