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How much time do you and your employees spend wasting time each day? How much money does that wasted time and the wasted resources that go into all of that wasted time cost your small business each day? To organize your small business without spending big, you should go lean.
What Does It Mean to Go Lean?
In manufacturing, a lean operations strategy focuses on producing only what is needed when it’s needed in order to meet quality requirements while minimizing waste and reducing costs. The goal is to have just the right amount of a product on hand to meet customer demands without overstocking or overspending. In a manufacturing setting, just-in-time processes are developed to support a lean operations strategy.
How Can I Go Lean Across My Business?
The concept of going lean can be applied to more than manufacturing, because there is more to a lean operations strategy than balancing supply and demand in the most efficient way possible to control costs. A lean company integrates the core philosophies of lean operations into every aspect of its business.
For example, a lean company believes in the lean operations philosophy that employees at the lowest possible level in the organizational structure should be empowered to make decisions. Specific processes and job responsibilities are developed and documented and employees are well-trained on these processes and responsibilities, so they are capable of making decisions. Imagine how much time and money your business could save if effective processes and responsibilities were developed at your company so you could trust employees to make decisions without waiting for approvals from long lists of people and departments.
However, employee empowerment to make decisions is only part of the lean operations strategy. To truly organize your business without spending a lot of money, you need to develop a company culture and code of ethics where employees are committed to making decisions that add value to consumers and other key stakeholders. For this to work, training and role-modeling by the leadership team are essential.
A lean operations strategy also focuses on identifying opportunities for standardization in materials, supplies, and processes that not only reduce costs but also reduce the chance for errors. How can you standardize aspects of your company and its procedures? For example, purchasing a standard set of office supplies could give you opportunities to reduce costs by buying in bulk. Documenting specific processes for business travel could streamline tasks related to purchasing airfare, ground transportation, hotels, meals, and more. At the same time, you should evaluate existing tasks and procedures to ensure they actually add value to consumers. If certain tasks don’t add value, eliminate them.
How Do I Start to Go Lean?
Look at every part of your business for opportunities for standardization in order to increase efficiencies, organize your business, and reduce costs. However, the goal of going lean isn’t just to increase efficiency and reduce costs so your business is more organized and profitable. The goal of running a lean business is to ensure that everything every employee does on a daily basis adds value to consumers. In the end, a lean operations strategy integrated throughout your business will give your company a competitive advantage through efficiency, flexibility, and employee collaboration and empowerment.
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.