10 Keys to Diagnosing Your Business Problems

From conducting customer outreach to communicating regularly with stakeholders, here are 10 answers to the question, “What are your tips to help leaders find and diagnose business problems?”

  • Conduct Customer Outreach
  • Take a Hard Look at the Competition
  • Develop a Decision Making Framework
  • Collect Employee Surveys
  • Perform a Goals Audit
  • Check for Correlations in the Way Crises Emerge
  • Study Your CRM Platform
  • Don’t Rely on Others to Interpret Company Data for You
  • Understand That Business Problems Are Leadership Problems
  • Regularly Communicate With Key Stakeholders


Conduct Customer Outreach

A crucial way business leaders can find and diagnose business problems is by conducting customer outreach. Customer outreach involves interacting with clients through review pages, social media, or email. Business leaders should not hesitate to reach out to customers to ask for honest reviews.

The famous American business magnate Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” So business leaders should learn not to take negative feedback from customers personally. In most cases, the feedback reveals areas your company needs to improve in order to gain an edge in a competitive market.

Tasia Duske, CEO, Museum Hack


Take a Hard Look at the Competition

I see how many companies become so engrossed in what they’re doing that they frequently need to consult one of the best learning resources available: their rivals. Having worked in SEO for many years, I know that as a leader, if you run into business problems, you should first look to your competition to find and diagnose those problems.
Keep an eye on industry competition; finding the closest competitors in your niche will give you deep and profound insights into the current problems.

You should look at competitors’ services, pricing, website, and marketing campaigns, as well as social media platforms, etc. By using these metrics, you should be able to identify and diagnose problems, and begin to learn a wealth of information about the key players in your market. With that knowledge, it’s easier for businesses to develop better strategies and procedures—unlocking potential solutions along the way.

Maria Harutyunyan, Co-Founder, Loopex Digital


Develop a Decision Making Framework

One tip to help leaders find and diagnose business problems is to use a decision-making framework. This can ensure that all potential factors are considered in making a decision, and it can also help to analyze different options objectively. Some common frameworks include the SWOT analysis, the 5 Whys technique, and the Cause and Effect diagram.

It’s also important for leaders to be constantly on the lookout for early warning signs of potential problems. By identifying these signals early on, leaders can address them before they become more significant issues. Common warning signs include declining sales, employee dissatisfaction, and quality control issues.

Kate Wojewoda-Celinska, Marketing Manager, Spacelift


Collect Employee Surveys

Employee surveys help business leaders address concerns before they become widespread problems. For example, let’s say a new department policy is causing the team to submit an unmanageable amount of paperwork. Business leaders will look at the feedback and decide how to move forward—such as hiring a new administrative employee or finding ways to cut down on paperwork so your team can stay productive and healthy.

Susan Shaffer, President, Pneuma Nitric Oxide


Perform a Goals Audit

Leaders can identify business problems quickly by re-assessing the organization’s goal. Lack of clarity in a company’s goal often causes many issues, ranging from workplace conflicts to interpersonal frustrations. To analyze the effectiveness of a goal, you can follow the S.M.A.R.T criteria, which breaks down to Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Also, check if the identified goals align with your company’s currently established values.

Michael Alexis, CEO, tiny campfire


Check for Correlations in the Way Crises Emerge

Effective leaders must be able to discover problems at the earliest stages before they cancerously metastasize in the organization. One way to discover such problems at their nascent stage is by studying previous crises for correlations. Crises must be extensively documented and investigated for patterns, especially in how they were formed, metamorphosed, and matured. Do certain events tend to lead to repeated outcomes?

Accurately discerning patterns in crisis development can equip business leaders with an accurate predictive diagnosis of problems that could emerge from unique situations. Patterns and correlations discovered in previous crises can be templated (and recommended early medication for such diagnosed crises) and distributed across leaders. This way, leaders have a more structured and cohesive approach to identifying related problems and which facility to resort to quickly remedy the issue before it snowballs into a full-blown crisis.

Lotus Felix, CEO, Lotusbrains Studio

Study Your CRM Platform

If you’re managing your company the right way, all interactions with customers, customer information, and communication can be found in a CRM tool. These tools give you visibility into where and why things are not going the way you expected them to. You can diagnose problems with reports and tables and see where things are breaking down.

Perhaps you need to provide more training to employees or invest more in the right tools to help streamline your processes. Whatever the problem, you can find and diagnose it in your CRM platform.

Marshall Weber, CMO, Stor-It

Don’t Rely on Others to Interpret Company Data for You

Companies are constantly checking their own metrics to measure their success. While it’s certainly fine to leave the deciphering of data to others who can inform you of the meaning, gaining a better understanding of your company’s metrics on a personal level can help you make better informed decisions for your business. You don’t need to become an expert to do this, but you as a leader should be willing to learn about your business, operations, its costs and overhead and any other aspects that can affect business performance.

Not only will this help with making solo decisions, but it’ll help you to better communicate with your teams and adjust your business goals to stay profitable. Don’t be the sort of leader who’s a drain on productivity when they’re in the office. Learn to understand your company, and you’ll have a better chance of solving business issues before they turn bad.

Neel Shah, Founder, EZ Newswire

Understand That Business Problems Are Leadership Problems

Look beyond finances and strategy. In order to get ahead of business problems, you’ll want to look to the people who are helping you create the results. Are these people happy? Are they excited to create these results? Do they trust you as a leader? Are you leading with emotional intelligence?

“Problems” in business almost always come down to the energy from which the business is being led. Take a look in the mirror and take more responsibility as to how you can be leading more effectively by better leading yourself.

Ashley Rainsbarger, Coach/Consultant, The Wiser Life, LLC.

Regularly Communicate With Key Stakeholders

One key tip to help leaders find and diagnose business problems is to regularly communicate with their team members, customers, and other key stakeholders. By staying in touch with the people directly involved in the company’s day-to-day operations, leaders can better understand what is and isn’t working, and identify potential problems before they become more serious.

Additionally, leaders should encourage open and honest communication and be willing to listen to and act on feedback from their team members. This can help leaders quickly diagnose problems and develop practical solutions.

Axel DeAngelis, Founder, Jumpcoast