9 common business problems

Your business is moving along, delivering on its product or service, when its wheels seemingly get stuck on the tracks. Perhaps it’s an employee issue or trouble with delivering your product to customers. Whatever the business problem may be, it has a ripple effect on the rest of your business. 

Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. If you’re running a small company or startup, you have likely already faced some common business problems – and if you haven’t, you will soon. In order to solve business challenges, it’s essential to be prepared, identify them early and make a plan to overcome them.

Discover your strengths as a business owner – and crush your problems

Take the Quiz
Identifying common business problems

When determining what issues your company is currently facing, it helps to break your business challenges into two sections: current business problems that you can quickly fix, and deeper business problems that require more intensive repair.

Some examples of current, surface-level problems are:

1. Employee turnover rate

2. Increase in competition

3. Falling sales

Deeper business issues

You certainly need to fix issues like that, but they likely aren’t the root of the problems your business is facing. In order to succeed, you need to get to the core of what’s really holding your company back. For most businesses, they fall into one of nine categories.

Nine most common business problems

Every business experiences problems, regardless of your industry, business size or the phase of the business cycle you are in. If your business is stagnant, you feel stuck or you’re not experiencing the growth you desire, be on the lookout for these nine common business problems.

1. You don’t know your purpose

Does your company feel adrift? Do you change your mission statement constantly? If so, you’re experiencing one of the most common business problems – lack of purpose.

Being a strong leader is synonymous with having a sense of purpose. When you truly believe you will be successful, you will see your business thrive. Your purpose gives you passion, drive and certainty. It gives you the ability to overcome towering obstacles. 

A business is only as strong as the psychology of its leader. It’s up to you to do the work and bring purpose to your company.

business discussion

2. You don’t have a strong brand identity

brand identity

One of the biggest business problems in the growth stage is not settling on who they are. Developing your brand identity is vital to your marketing and sales success. Your identity epitomizes what your company stands for – your core values, mission and goals. It deeply affects your company culture, which in turn affects whether you can hire and retain the best employees for the job.

Your brand identity is what drives the emotional connection with your consumer and ultimately creates customer loyalty. Without a strong brand identity, you don’t actually know who you are or what direction you’re going. Without that direction, you won’t know what audience to target – and you definitely won’t inspire raving fan customers.

3. You’re not providing value

Shrinking profits is among the common business problems. Left alone, they can lead to bankruptcy. When this happens it’s easy to shrug it off and blame the market. But if the market shifts, it’s for a reason. If customers are going to your competitor because they offer a service or feature that you don’t, that is because they deem that service or feature valuable. When you don’t provide what the customer desires, you’re not providing them with value.

To be successful in business, you must practice constant strategic innovation. Determine your X-factor – what sets you apart from the competition? How do you bring more value to your customers? What makes your company talkably different? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to sit down and think about them.

business discussion

4. You haven’t planned ahead

business discussion

Purpose and identity are crucial to your success, but don’t forget about making a plan. And don’t just make any plan – make a massive action plan (MAP). Making a MAP instead of a traditional plan allows you to stay agile in response to business challenges while always keeping your eye on the prize.

For example, most business owners aren’t prepared for a recession despite the fact that the economy has spent over 60% of its time in a recession since 1879. It’s easy to feel confident during good times, but it’s the hardships that matter. A MAP acknowledges and addresses how your business will fare if there is a downturn in your income, whether it comes from a recession or the shifting valuation of your product or service. If you haven’t built your business stoutly enough to weather potential storms, you won’t sail far at all. Get prepared for a recession and other negative economic possibilities before they happen.

5. You don’t have an exit strategy

No one wants to think about the end of their business, which is why so few owners bother with developing exit strategies. But the goal of your business is for you to eventually leave. This could come in the form of arranging a leveraged buy-out, leaving the business to your children or selling the business to key employees. The point is, knowing what the preferred end of your company will look like helps you develop the best path to get there.

Forty-five percent of business owners spend over 40 hours a week in the office and never find a way to extricate themselves so they can pursue other passions. Sound like you? It’s definitely time to start working on your exit strategy.

business discussion

6. You’re controlled by uncertainty and fear

Nothing in this life is ever guaranteed, but new business owners often allow the fear of uncertainty to affect how they run their organizations. Fear of failure, fear of not being a good enough leader and fear of the economy’s future can put you in a scarcity mindset and negatively affect decisions and behaviors. By becoming hyper-focused on these things, you set your business up for failure instead of taking the steps necessary to achieve success. 

If you have these fears, identify if they are based on limiting beliefs. Change those beliefs to empowering ones that help you thrive as a leader. Instead of letting fear ruin your business, use that fear to push you to greater heights. When you decide that success will happen no matter what, many of your business problems will resolve themselves along the way.

7. You’re not harnessing the power of technology


New entrepreneurs often make the mistake of thinking they don’t need technology. Some think this because they have an old-school mindset and don’t realize all the powerful pieces of tech that are available. Others think that they are in a type of business that doesn’t need technology to succeed. In today’s economy, harnessing the power of technology is a requirement if you want to avoid being disrupted by competitors.

From artificial intelligence to automation, emerging tech has a place in every business no matter how large or small. Address these common business problems by having strategic innovation meetings with your team to discuss new technology and how it can be incorporated into your business to beat your competition.

8. You lack the right skills

Tony tells us that “Success is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics.” It’s vital to shift your mindset, control your emotions and be decisive in business. Yet it is also vital to take a realistic look at your strengths and weaknesses. Business owners need certain skills, like reading financial statements, hiring the right employees and scaling mindfully.

Your own psychology and skillset is the foundation you’ll build the rest of your business around. If you don’t seal the cracks and strengthen the base, you can’t build a sturdy structure. You can develop these skills if you desire – or you can outsource them so that you have the time to focus on other aspects of the business. Being honest about what business challenges you face now or are likely to face in the future is the foundation you need to scale your business in a solid manner.

9. You won’t ask for help

business partner

If you find you lack certain skills, one of the biggest business challenges you can face is your own inability to reach out to available resources. Being a great leader doesn’t mean that you have all the solutions – but it does mean that you use everything at your disposal to get the job done. One of the top traits of a leader is resourcefulness. The best leaders leverage what they do have in order to fill in the gaps – especially when it comes to their businesses.  

Stop telling yourself the story that “strong leaders don’t ask for support.” Once you do, you’ll find that business help is out there. Sign up for a free CEO Strategy Session and discover new strategies that will skyrocket you to success. You won’t just solve your current business challenges – you’ll also create a blueprint for lasting change throughout your organization.

Examples of companies experiencing problems

Even the biggest businesses were startups once. No matter what type of industry you’re in, you’re probably experiencing the same challenges faced by businesses around the world. Though they seem unique to you and your team, they are often universal. How do you view the business problems you face? Are they obstacles or are they opportunities for growth? 

Apple overcame numerous business challenges – and near bankruptcy – before becoming the force of nature they are today. And they didn’t do it by thinking small. When sales were down, they didn’t think about how to sell more computers. They turned to marketing and innovation to solve their problems and ended up creating the iPhone. 

Another business that experienced and overcame problems is Starbucks. This billion-dollar coffee chain saw its earnings drop by more than half during the 2008 recession. The company brought back CEO Howard Schultz to right the ship, and he showed exemplary crisis leadership: He asked himself what business they were in – and it wasn’t coffee. He put the focus back on the customer and brought the company back from the brink of failure.

Remember, business problems are just opportunities in disguise. It’s time to stop living in fear of what’s to come and start building the skills and mindset you need to overcome any challenge.

Ready to crush your business problems?

Discover how to defeat common business problems with Tony Robbins’ free 7 Forces of Business Mastery content series.