Is Your Business Lean?

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Most business owners are concerned about waste. Wasting labour hours, wasting production hours, and even wasting office space are primary concerns. Most startups naturally stretch the resources they have as far as they can go. But as a business starts to expand, making the right impression to woo the right clients can see the start of bad habits forming.

Every company wants to appear bigger and more successful than they are. Unfortunately, this thinking is beginning to lose favour. Now clients are looking for the company that is efficient, lean, and effective. Defects are not acceptable. Quality is everything, and leadership should underpin the company culture. People and process count for more than any fancy premises or shiny product.

What do we mean by lean? According to lean and six sigma specialists at, lean means process are streamlined, waste is eliminated, and customer satisfaction is higher. All approaches to lean should be results driven so that you and your customer can see the benefits of its application. It might involve a mindset change and even a process change, but if your business can be leaner, it can become more profitable.

How do we get leaner? It might all start with management. By improving and enhancing your skillset and management style, you can start tackling the numbers that hurt your business. Analysis and fact finding are central to developing a leaner process within your company. Guesswork and risk taking need to be reduced and decision making based on metrics and careful analysis should become the norm.

What approach is needed? There are several proven project methodologies that can help you to reduce wastage. DMAIC is one that the six sigma approach is inspired by. The D stands for Define, whereby you listen carefully to what the customer is telling you he needs. You might have a look at websites like for some ideas here. You must define how customer problems affect your business objectives. M is for Measuring your historical data and conducting current Analyses of your processes. I is for Improving what’s in place, and C is for Control in the long term.

It’s important to reduce waste throughout each project. This reduces pollution which will ultimately save your company money in fines and waste management. It also means you are only ordering the raw materials you actually need. You’re improving budgeting strategies and efficiencies. If you don’t have any waste to deal with, then your human resources are focused on tasks that lead to finished products instead. This makes each employee productive. The list goes on.

How long does it take to implement lean methodologies? You can start today by auditing what is happening. Calculate your wastage in terms of financial losses and employee hours lost. Ultimately, you’re looking to ‘trim the fat’ so to speak. Until you know what that ‘fat’ looks like, you cannot act. You might also choose to start with a SMART objective. Define the savings you wish to make, then start to look where they might be made. You probably already have your suspicions as to where inefficiencies exist. Get leaner.

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