How to Keep Your Business Lean During Challenging Times

Tips for Running a Lean, Mean, Business Machine

We’re currently in a bit of a tumultuous marketplace. Inflation is up, good employees are hard to find, and supply chains are moving at the slowest pace in years. If you want to survive, you need to focus on lean operations.

What is a Lean Business?

According to Gazprom Energy, “A lean business model means making continuous improvements in a business operation, and the implementation of processes to guarantee optimum business efficiency. This can be achieved by changing or removing ineffective practices, identifying and getting rid of unprofitable products, and measuring and improving the productivity of teams.”

Lean businesses are focused, but they don’t overcommit to one product, service, process, or ideology. They invest in constant and never-ending improvement while being willing to strip away unnecessary elements or expenses that stand in the way.

Lean businesses benefit from having lower expenses, higher profit margins, engaged employees, steady growth, and a customer-first approach that results in stronger customer loyalty.

Furthermore, lean businesses tend to be more nimble and flexible, which paves the way for faster innovation.

4 Tips for Staying Lean

Clearly, there are advantages associated with staying lean. The question is, how do you achieve lean operations?

Here are several helpful tips:

  1. Eliminate

Start by eliminating anything that’s unnecessary in your business. That means if you can operate without it, it goes. This includes processes, expenses, etc.

Square footage is a great example of an expense that many businesses can now eliminate. If, like other business owners, you discovered during the pandemic that you can run your business remotely, do you really need a massive office? You can either eliminate all office space and go fully virtual, or you can scale back on the square footage needed to keep your business operational. Either way, you can save thousands of dollars per month.

In terms of processes, evaluate each individual step in each process and look for repetitive tasks that you can eliminate. If you can’t eliminate a task, consider combining it with another task for greater efficiency.

  1. Automate

Once you’ve eliminated unnecessary expenditures and processes, you’re left with only critical pieces to the puzzle. At this point, it’s all about being as smart and efficient as possible with what’s left.

Begin by automating anything that can be streamlined with software. Thankfully, this is a large percentage of business operations in this day and age. Not only can you automate individual tasks, but you can also use solutions like Zapier to connect and integrate different automation for even smoother processes.

For example, Zapier allows you to connect Facebook with Gmail. This means anytime a new lead message on Facebook, you can automatically send a follow-up email from the sales team. Or you can connect your Stripe account with your shipping account to ensure orders are immediately processed.

  1. Outsource

Once you’ve eliminated unnecessary tasks and automated what you can, you’re left with everything else that has to be addressed manually. But before you start filling up your team’s internal to-do list, think about outsourcing.

Anything that doesn’t require your team’s direct input or creativity can be outsourced to someone else (to leave room for the tasks that do). This keeps your payroll low and reinforces your team’s focus on core obligations.

For example, you can easily outsource your technology and networking to a NYC managed IT services company. This ensures you’re getting the best managed IT without having to devote your own internal resources.

  1. Invest

Finally, you’re left with everything that your team must do manually. These are the tasks, skills, technologies, and resources that you want to invest your time and money into. Learn how to perfect them and you’ll never struggle to have a business that’s truly unique and valuable in the larger marketplace. This is how you develop a sustainable business with a competitive advantage that lasts over time. Read more about Best Apps for Pros Who Need Help With Customer Relationship Management.

Survive and Thrive

Many businesses go lean during times of economic uncertainty or challenging marketplace conditions. However, once they experience the benefits that come from lean operations, they tend to adopt it as a permanent business model. Hopefully, this article has equipped you with some tactical steps you can take to get your business pointed in the right direction.

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