As a small business owner, you probably have already heard about a lean program. In manufacturing businesses, this is called a lean manufacturing program. If you are like most small business owners, you think that this type of program can only be implemented in large companies. But this isn’t true.
Simply put, a lean program is a process of identifying all the aspects that don’t add any value to the operation and remove them. This is known as waste.
Lean Will Work in Your Business
One of the reasons why most small business owners believe this strategy is only meant for big corporations is that they don’t have high production. Nevertheless, no matter your business size, eliminating waste is always important. After all, this allows you not only to decrease your costs as well as improve productivity at the same time.
6 Tips To Apply a Lean Program
So if you are considering the implementation of a lean program in your small business, here are 6 tips that can help you get started:
#1: Identify and Take Care of Waste:
One of the main goals of a lean program is to remove waste as we already mentioned. But how can you identify it?
Waste can have many different aspects of your business. Included are time wasted in waiting, customer order to service time, defects in manufacturing, overstocking, and when your processes aren’t efficient enough.
Lean Program Analogy
Think about the process of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Get the bread from the breadbox, jelly from the fridge, a plate from the cabinet, a knife from the drawer, and peanut butter from the pantry. What would you do if you wanted to make 100 sandwiches? You would become aware that your process to make one sandwich is not very efficient and you have a lot of wasted time. To save time and effort you would set up an assembly line of the tools and ingredients. You would eliminate wasted time and effort. The same is true with every business. You design the steps in your work to eliminate waste.
One of the best ways that you have to identify it and take care of it is to talk with the ones responsible for that specific process. Usually, they have a better idea of what is happening, what can be improved and what steps need to be changed or removed.
#2: Make Continuous Improvement a Goal for Your Business:
One of the things that you need to have in mind all the time is your business and your industry keeps changing. You need to be quick in adapting your business to these changes. And this is where continuous improvement plays an important role. As you adapt to the changing environment, you should take what you already learned and change things for the better.
The reality is that there are always areas to be improved when you have a small business. From production to customer service, accounting or operations.
Most business owners don’t like to outsource. They believe that it is a waste of money to outsource a task or a department when they have in-house employees who can do the same. However, some of these in-house employees don’t have enough skills to do certain tasks. And even when they do, they already have so many things to do that they won’t be able to dedicate to this new task.
While outsourcing isn’t a must in a lean program, it should be considered as a viable option.
#4: Document All Your Processes:
Many small business owners tend to rely on specific employees who know how everything works inside the business. They are the ones who know how all the processes work. However, what happens when they are sick and need to take the day off? What will you do when a problem with a process appears at this time?
The reality is that you cannot be dependent on just one or a couple of employees. You need to ensure that you have all your processes well-documented. So, whenever there is a problem, everyone will know what to do and what to do.
#5: Collect Data and Use It:
One of the best ways to start implementing a lean program in your small business is to collect data. But what data, you may ask? All data that you can gather. After all, when you have data related to each one of the processes within your small business, you’ll be able to easily identify what needs to be improved.
In case you want to proceed with this idea, my advice is to outsource this task. While you can do this on your own, fresh eyes are usually better to serve as judges and to clearly point out what is being done right and what needs improvement.
#6: Commitment and Perseverance:
This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you when you are implementing a lean program in your small business. All employees need to be committed to the changes and to the elimination of waste. This is the only way that you have to continue to improve your business standards.
Implementing a lean program in your business can add major profits and productivity to your business. No matter whether you have a service business, retail or manufacturing company, applying a lean program will be a giant leap for you toward business freedom!