Whether you’re a startup on a shoestring budget or a large company in a highly competitive industry, virtually every business can benefit from a leaner approach which reduces waste, cuts costs and improves efficiency.
We explore some of the best ways to run a leaner company:
- Think outside the box rather than spend money
- Decide and act quickly
- Automate as much as possible
- Get rid of the rent – invest in property of your own
- Hire problem-solvers and lateral thinkers
- Share resources
- Make use of interns
- Take advantage of every free opportunity
Think outside the box rather than spend money
For every potential cost that comes up, spend a little time considering whether there might be another option which will work just as well. This could mean bartering for a service rather than paying for it in cash, purchasing something secondhand rather than new, or hiring a freelancer rather than a fulltime employee. Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean cutting corners if you take advantage of great opportunities.
Decide and act quickly
Time really is money, and wasting it on indecision or procrastinating instead of taking action can be a big (and needless) drain on resources. If you’ve made the decision to do something, get on with it, get it out of the way, and refocus quickly on making the best next move.
Automate as much as possible
With so many exciting and affordable technologies at our disposal, business owners really should be focusing their energies on the things humans do best and leaving the repetitive or monotonous tasks to the machines – they really don’t mind! Good examples might be using a chatbot on your website to answer simple questions (as long as there’s an option to reach a human if need be, of course) or automating your monthly invoicing rather than spending two days doing it yourself.
Get rid of the rent for good – invest in property of your own
Just as with your personal property, continuing to rent for years on end is a drain on your finances when you could be working towards owning a valuable asset of your own. Get in touch with a reputable industrial or commercial property firm such as Galetti early on and let them know you’re open to the right deal so you’re ready to make an offer should that perfect property become available.
This concept goes for all of your recurring expenses. Do the math and work out how quickly investing in something will pay for itself – whether that’s putting in solar panels to reduce or eliminate your electricity bills or purchasing rather than renting warehouse equipment. If you’re able to absorb the initial outlay, eliminating recurring expenses is usually the best long-term strategy.
Hire problem-solvers and lateral thinkers
Doing more with less is what lean principles are all about – and that applies to the kind of talent you hire too. Employees who bring more than just the required set of skills to perform their role to the table, but have natural problem-solving abilities too, are a major asset. Being able to explore alternatives, come up with unexpected solutions and think of innovative ways to cut costs and improve efficiencies make these valuable hires indeed – but how do you find them?
One way is to include some questions to test this during the interview process, ideally in a written format which eliminates interview nerves! Pose a couple of theoretical problems, and see which candidates come up with suggestions that surprise you.
Sharing an office with another company is a great way to cut many of your expenses in half – such as office equipment, water and electricity, internet costs etc. – but it doesn’t have to end there. Partnering with another company to cohost a networking event, promote each other on your social media platforms, or pool your buying resources can be beneficial for everyone concerned.
Make use of interns
If you’re a largely digital, online or technology-based company, chances are recent college and high school graduates already have a lot to offer in terms of their natural tech-savvy. What they lack is the ability to break into the job market without any working experience – and this is, of course, where you can help each other out.
Take advantage of every free opportunity
From free online courses, advice forums, professional networks and informative videos and podcasts, to the power of free publicity via social media, there are thousands of opportunities out there for business owners to empower themselves. Running a leaner company doesn’t have to mean missing out – in fact, it’s often a great way to spot opportunities you might otherwise have overlooked.