Have you heard of the concept of a "lean business?"
In simple terms, it is a company that seeks to maximize resources and avoid wasting time, money and energy on things that don't provide value.
It sounds great on paper, but I have noticed that in an effort to become "lean" some team leaders and business owners take things to the point where they are, in fact, starving their business.
They might cut an essential role and divide the work up between other employees who are already maxed out. At first it seems they are saving money, but when their other rockstar team members get burned out and start underperforming, the company feels the negative impact of creating a problem that wasn't worth the money saved.
The truth is, it is hard to become a lean business without getting stingy.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are ready to have a lean business but don't want to lose the plot for the sake of maximizing resources:
1. Get Your Vision and Values Crystal Clear
Becoming a lean business without starving requires you to understand why you are doing it in the first place. For instance, if one of your business values is around incredible customer care, does it make sense for you to replace your well-loved customer care specialist for a cheap A.I. chatbot? Probably not. Sure it might save time, money and personnel challenges but it wouldn't be aligned with the culture you want your business to express.
Without knowing your Vision and Values, it is hard to know what is essential to the ongoing success of your business. If those things aren't clear and being lived daily in your business, our program Grow Smooth for Lean Businesses is an essential starting point to doing this.
2. Understand what technology can do and what only people can do
Ten years ago, conventional business advice said the first hire in most companies should be an admin or personal assistant. But these days that wouldn't necessarily be a lean choice for a business who allows clients to schedule online at their own convenience or who have great systems in place. It wouldn't make sense to pay a salary for someone to schedule clients when a software system can do almost all of it for a nominal fee per month. Instead, the resource of that salary could be reinvested to hire someone for a role that the team could benefit from. We have an AI for Entrepreneurs quick start guide you can download here to start to explore the possibilities available. Then you can be smart about what you have technology do and invest more to get people in the roles only they can do.
3. Calculate the ROI on everything you can measure
Becoming lean isn't about having a death grip on your money or time (at least the way we teach it at Superabound), it is about making sure that resources going out and coming in flow in a way that feels generous and supportive to your Vision. But in order to do that, you have to know the real return on investment for everything you are currently spending time and money on.
Start by looking at your calendar to see what your main business activities have been for the last quarter. Pinpoint the ones that are having a tangible and positive impact and the ones that are costing you more time, energy and money than they are bringing in. Do this with your company bank accounts as well. What is feeding your business and what is costing more than it's worth?
When you have this information in black and white in front of you, its decision time. Go through each one yourself or with your team to decide what stays and what goes. This might not be the most exciting part of your month, but it will be a fruitful exercise and is an essential step to becoming lean.
The Ripple Results of Becoming Lean
Becoming lean is a great way for businesses to remain profitable as they grow, but that is far from the only benefit. A lean team is by its nature a smaller team that, when working well, can be a thriving and fun environment to work in because everyone's value is so clearly seen by one another. Lean teams tend to be more flexible and creative because they can move faster with less people. And when it comes to growth, a lean business can handle any bumpy patches because it isn't weighed down by unnecessary overhead or projects that waste time, money and energy.
If you want to have a free, no-obligation conversation about how your business can become more lean, schedule a time to speak with us here.