Admitting You Have a Problem In Your Business

By Deanna deBara | Published February 18, 2020

A lot of business leaders struggle with the idea of admitting they have a problem in their business. They think that in order to succeed, they need to do everything perfectly—and if there is a problem, they either need to ignore it and keep moving forward or address it quietly and away from the eyes of their colleagues, employees, and customers.

But the truth is, every business has problems, and admitting to those problems doesn’t make you a bad leader or an unsuccessful business owner; it just makes you human. And the best part? Admitting the problem is the fastest path to finding a solution and getting your business back on track.

But how, exactly, do you admit there’s a problem—and move from the problem towards a solution?

Get clear on the problem…

You might have a feeling or an idea that there’s something not quite right with your business. But if you can’t put your finger on exactly what’s wrong or what’s not working, you’ve got some work to do.

You can’t admit to having a problem in your business if you don’t know what that problem is. That’s why the first step towards admitting there’s something wrong in your business—and working towards a solution—is getting clear on what, exactly, isn’t working. 

Take a look at your business. Where are the areas where you’re struggling? What are the issues your employees are bringing up to their managers, in their annual reviews, or in their exit interviews? Where are you not hitting your goals?

The key here is to dig deep to find out what the core issues are with your business. Often times, what you think is the problem is actually the symptom of the problem. So, for example, at first glance you might think the problem is that your new team members keep leaving after a few months, which is driving up hiring costs—but the real problem is that your onboarding process isn’t setting up employees for success. Or maybe you think your problem is a failed product launch—but the actual problem was an issue with manufacturing and quality control.

The point is before you can admit you have a problem in your business, you need to clearly identify what those problems are—and that requires you to go past the surface issues and get to the core of what’s really going on.

...and who you need to admit the problem to

Once you’ve clearly identified what the problem is in your business, it’s time to get clear on who you need to share that information with—or, in other words, who you need to admit the problem to.

Different problems are going to require different levels of disclosure. So, for example, if your problem is a product recall, you’re going to have to admit that problem to your customers—and let them know you’re going to solve it. If, on the other hand, you realize the main problem in your business is an inefficient onboarding process, that’s something you need to admit to your team—but there’s no need to inform your customers.

Address the problem (and focus on the solution)

You’ve identified the problem. You know who you need to share the problem with. Now, it’s time to actually admit the problem.

For many people, this part of the process can be challenging; admitting you have a problem in your business—whether it’s to your peers, your team, your customers, or even yourself—can feel uncomfortable. But it’s important to push past the discomfort and address the problem openly and honestly.

The best medium for facilitating this conversation is going to depend on the problem and who you need to admit it to. So, for example, if your customers need to be involved in the conversation, you’ll likely have to admit the problem publicly, like on your social media platforms or in a press release. If it’s an internal problem that impacts your entire team, you might want to schedule an all-team meeting to discuss the issue or send out a company-wide email. If the issue is with a single person or a small team, it would make the most sense to address them directly.

The key to being successful when admitting a problem is owning up to the issue, explaining how it happened, and then (and this is the important part!) share how you’re working towards a solution.

As we mentioned earlier, every business has issues, and there’s no shame in admitting you have a problem within your organization. The key is to address it directly—and then let people know how you’re working to solve the problem and make sure it doesn’t continue or happen again.

Examine your mindset

Part of the reason leaders struggle to admit when there’s a problem in their business is because they’re afraid of failure.  But if that’s the way you feel, your biggest issue isn’t whatever problem you’re experiencing in your business—it’s your mindset.

Failure isn’t something to be afraid of; in fact, failure is one of the biggest catalysts for positive change. And if you can start embracing failure as a growth opportunity, you won’t feel nervous apprehensive about admitting there’s a problem in your business. Instead, you’ll feel excited about the opportunity to identify something that’s not working—and to take the steps necessary to improve.

If you struggle with admitting there are problems in your business, focus on changing your mindset. Instead of looking at problems or something to be afraid of, look at them as the opportunities they actually are. When you change your mindset around failure, you can face problems head-on, use them as springboards for positive change, and work towards solutions more efficiently.

Identify, admit, and solve your business problems

Admitting you have a problem in your business can be challenging. But with these tips, you have everything you need to identify issues within your business, work towards solutions, change your mindset, and improve your entire organization in the process. 

Deanna deBara

Deanna deBara is an entrepreneur, speaker, and freelance writer who specializes in business and productivity topics. When she's not busy writing, she enjoys hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dog. See more of her work and learn more about her services at