16 Ways to Hone Your Problem-Solving Skills (2023)

Strong problem-solving skills are crucial to have in business. Without developing the ability to step back, look at the various causes and outcomes, and then take the steps needed to pursue the right course, you or your team will be regularly in a state of crisis, unable to move forward with any real speed.

When you feel like you’re hitting a wall in your leadership or entrepreneurial journey, you’ll want to be able to find your way around it. To help you better handle such roadblocks, we asked a panel ofYoung Entrepreneur Councilmembers to share their best advice for honing problem-solving skills. Here’s what they said:

1. Reflect on your worst times.

Problem-solving is something we all deal with on a daily basis. However, we all deal with problems differently. In order to solve your own problems and teach others how to do the same, one must reflect back on their worst times and remember the processes they took to get out of it. As you do this, be sure to take notes and reverse engineer your action process—then apply this to other situations.

Zac Johnson,Blogger

2. Always be a student.

As we hit certain accomplishments and gather certain credibility, our ego might get the best of us. One piece of advice for all thought leaders is to continuously learn from others. We have to be open minded. Just because we becamesuccessfuldoesn’t mean we have no room for improvement. We don’t and won’t ever know it all. So in order to hone our skills, we must be forever a student.

Fritz Colcol,ABN Circle

3. Exercise creativity like a muscle.

You can exercise creativity regularly to get better at problem-solving. It’s like a muscle—the more you work, the stronger it gets. Some helpful skills that are free are writing, doodling and brainstorming. It’s important to allow yourself to express any idea no matter how absurd it seems. Once you’ve come with more answers than you need, you can whittle it down to the most useful answer.

Syed Balkhi,WPBeginner

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4. Don’t take things personally.

When we can’t solve a problem as quickly or efficiently as we hope, we habitually blame ourselves. Ironically, blaming ourselves makes it harder to solve new problems as they arise. I suggest that you always step back from a situation that requires a solution and look at it from an objective point of view.

John Turner,SeedProd LLC

5. Define the problem before trying to solve it.

You need to know exactly what problem you’re facing before you can solve it. Lay it all out there—the circumstances and your options—and decide what is best for you based on what you know. The more you practice, the better at it you’ll get.

Jared Atchison,WPForms

6. Change your perspective.

If you change the way you see a problem, from another person’s shoes, or perspective, you are more likely to have the tools you need to understand their point of view. Which helps you make a more balanced and informed decision.

Stephanie Wells,Formidable Forms

7. Bounce ideas off other people.

There’s a lot of power in stating your problems and thoughts aloud to other people; you get feedback and fresh ideas. Other people can often point out things that are obvious but which you’ve missed because you were too close to the problem. You don’t have to be alone when it comes to problem-solving for your business. It’s helpful to find a community or colleagues to support you.

Blair Williams,MemberPress

8. Keep your higher purpose in mind.

The best advice I have for leaders to hone their problem-solving skills is to keep your higher purpose in mind. What drives you? Why are your putting effort and time into your business? Knowing the answer to these questions allows you to solve problems with more creativity, confidence and power. Those around you will also see your passion, prompting them to develop leadership skills, too.

Shu Saito,Godai

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9. Look for unusual connections.

The most extraordinary solutions to problems are not necessarily complex, but they are always creative. Creativity is not only about making something new. It’s also the ability to find unusual connections between familiar things. My advice is to exercise your creativity by soaking in as many ideas as you can. The more ideas you learn, the more creative solutions you prepare for.

Solomon Thimothy,OneIMS

10. Don’t neglect your body.

The body and the mind are connected as part of one organism. That means if you want to improve your mental health and problem-solving skills, you can’t neglect your physical health. Remember to exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep and take breaks if you spend a long time behind a desk looking at the computer.

Bryce Welker,The Big 4 Accounting Firms

11. Simplify the problem.

Simplify the problem down to its most basic core. Then simplify the solution. Determine two or three concrete steps that, when taken, will solve the problem. For the most part, it’s that simple.

Andrew Schrage,Money Crashers Personal Finance

12. Look at the problem as an opportunity.

Problem-solving skills are vital in the workforce and often determinesuccess. I would say one of the best pieces of advice for leaders to hone their problem-solving skills is to be aware of your mindset. If you allow yourself to be burdened or frustrated by the problem, then you are less likely to come up with the best solution. See problems as an opportunity to learn, get creative and be resourceful instead.

Diego Orjuela,Cables & Sensors

13. Volunteer for other organizations.

The best way to practice problem-solving is to expose yourself to new challenges and new industries. A great way to do that is by volunteering for a nonprofit organization or even a political campaign. You’ll interact with new people and learn new tools and approaches that can help expand your creativity to solve problems in your own business.

Nanxi Liu,Enplug

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14. Read case studies.

Wherever possible, read case studies of current and past leaders you admire. Their memoirs, internal reports and analysts’ reports all help paint a vivid picture of how more established leaders have handled difficult decisions in a wise manner. Even better, turn this activity into a group exercise by asking fellow executives to review the same cases and discuss their conclusions with you.

Yaniv Masjedi,Nextiva

15. Change up your routine.

One of the biggest challenges to problem-solving is habitual thinking. To solve problems, you need to think in creative ways. And to think creatively, you need to get outside the routine. One of the best ways to get your brain in a creative space is to schedule a time to get away from the desk, go for a walk and allow your mind to wander. You’ll find that new ideas emerge.

Keith Shields,Designli

16. Face your problems authentically.

With every problem you attempt to solve, remind yourself of who you are and why you are doing what you’re doing. Face all your problems bravely and solve them based on your inner voice, gut feel and authenticity to yourself. There’s no other way to solve your problems but to face them with pride in knowing that you are being true to yourself, and your mission and vision are still intact.

Daisy Jing,Banish

Related: Answer These 3 Questions to Be a Better Problem Solver and Leader

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s mostsuccessfulyoung entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more atyec.co.

Image by Pranch / Shutterstock



Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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How can I hone my problem solving skills? ›

6 Steps of the Problem Solving Process
  1. Identify the problem. ...
  2. Do your research. ...
  3. Look for possible solutions. ...
  4. Make a decision. ...
  5. Put that decision into action. ...
  6. Await results.
7 Jun 2021

What are the 8 problem solving strategies? ›

8-Step Problem Solving Process
  • Step 1: Define the Problem. What is the problem? ...
  • Step 2: Clarify the Problem. ...
  • Step 3: Define the Goals. ...
  • Step 4: Identify Root Cause of the Problem. ...
  • Step 5: Develop Action Plan. ...
  • Step 6: Execute Action Plan. ...
  • Step 7: Evaluate the Results. ...
  • Step 8: Continuously Improve.

How do I hone critical thinking skills? ›

How to Develop Critical Thinking
  1. Don't Believe Everything You're Told. The first step to critical thinking is to consider more than one point of view. ...
  2. Don't Believe Everything You Think. ...
  3. Ask Questions. ...
  4. Research Deeper. ...
  5. Evaluate Your Work.

What are the 4 types of problem-solving strategies? ›

What Are Problem Solving Strategies?
  • Guess (includes guess and check, guess and improve)
  • Act It Out (act it out and use equipment)
  • Draw (this includes drawing pictures and diagrams)
  • Make a List (includes making a table)
  • Think (includes using skills you know already)

What is a good example of problem-solving? ›

Examples of Problem Solving Scenarios in the Workplace

Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc. Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.

What are the four basic steps of problem-solving? ›

The four basic steps to problem solving are:
  • Define the Problem. It's common to conflate symptoms of a problem with the problem itself. ...
  • Create Alternatives. Once you know the problem you're facing, it's good to consider possible solutions. ...
  • Choose a Solution. ...
  • Implement the Solution.

What are the 6 problem-solving steps? ›

Six step guide to help you solve problems
  • Step 1: Identify and define the problem. State the problem as clearly as possible. ...
  • Step 2: Generate possible solutions. ...
  • Step 3: Evaluate alternatives. ...
  • Step 4: Decide on a solution. ...
  • Step 5: Implement the solution. ...
  • Step 6: Evaluate the outcome.

What are the 7 principles of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking involves asking questions, defining a problem, examining evidence, analyzing assumptions and biases, avoiding emotional reasoning, avoiding oversimplification, considering other interpretations, and tolerating ambiguity.

What are the 5 critical thinking questions? ›

The questions are as follows:
  • What are the issue and the conclusion?
  • What are the reasons?
  • What are the assumptions?
  • Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?
  • How good is the evidence?
30 Nov 2017

How do students develop critical thinking skills essay? ›

How to start a critical thinking essay
  1. Choose a central problem or argument. ...
  2. Gather information and recall to existing knowledge. ...
  3. Come up with a thesis statement. ...
  4. Write the body paragraph. ...
  5. Analyze the information. ...
  6. Examine different viewpoints. ...
  7. Review contexts. ...
  8. Come up with your own viewpoint.
9 Mar 2018

Can problem-solving be learned? ›

Problem solving is a process and a skill that is learned with practice. It is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes and that no one knows everything. Life is about learning.

How can you apply problem-solving in real life situation? ›

10 Everyday uses for Problem Solving Skills
  1. Stuck in traffic and late for work, again. ...
  2. What is that stain on the living room carpet? ...
  3. What is that smell coming from my teenage son's room? ...
  4. I don't think the car is supposed to make that thumping noise. ...
  5. Why is the baby crying? ...
  6. My daughter has a science project – due tomorrow.

How can decision making and problem-solving skills be improved? ›

Decision-making and Problem-solving
  1. Develop evidence to support views.
  2. Analyze situations carefully.
  3. Discuss subjects in an organized way.
  4. Predict the consequences of actions.
  5. Weigh alternatives.
  6. Generate and organize ideas.
  7. Form and apply concepts.
  8. Design systematic plans of action.


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