Building a Lean Business: 5 Things You Need to Know

Running a business is already difficult enough. Add to the mix the long list of laws and regulations you have to comply with, and your job just became more challenging. Regulatory compliance is the bane of many entrepreneurs, but you can turn a source of inconvenience into an opportunity if you play your cards right.

One way to do this is to simplify the way your business works. Regulatory compliance becomes more challenging as organizations get bigger and more complex. You’ll need to observe and coordinate with different departments. In some cases, you may even have to assemble a team lead by a business attorney to ensure compliance across the board. Streamlining processes will make you and your employees’ job easier.

Cutting the fat also benefits the organization as a whole. If you’re having difficulties navigating your company’s systems, then your employees must be having the same problem as well. Your setup could be contributing to lower productivity and higher stress and dissatisfaction.

A lean business is more efficient, manageable, and productive. Here are a few things you can do to simplify operations without rocking the boat too much.

1. Encourage accountability

Each employee must be responsible for their own set of tasks. That may sound obvious enough, but you’d be surprised to know that some of your employees may have overlapping responsibilities. When you apportion tasks, you minimize blame, confusion, and conflict. That way, you can easily identify the people responsible for the output.

It may take some work initially, but your new system will basically run itself once it’s in place. Your employees will also certainly appreciate having full ownership over their work. Apply the same concept to any new positions moving forward and eliminate overlapping responsibilities whenever possible. Two people may have the same job description, but they should never have the same job.

2. Focus on the tasks

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when working on a big project. You’re thinking of the amount of work yet to be finished and the looming deadline. Instead of looking at the project as one giant mass, you’ll find it easier if you focused on its components.

Just as the human body is made up of organs and tissues, a project is basically the sum of all tasks. If you focus on one task at a time, you can prevent burnout and other issues that many teams deal with during a time crunch.


3. Document the process

Project documentation serves two important purposes: to ensure that your goals are met and to establish a map of every part of the project. You’ll want to be able to trace the history of any changes, as well as the people who executed those changes. If you run into any issues, you can easily isolate the problem without affecting other parts of the project.

Incomplete documentation is one of the most serious mistakes a team could ever make. No output is infallible, and you’ll need to prepare for any mistakes that may happen down the line. If you need to roll back an update or trace the source of the problem, incomplete documentation will make your work infinitely more difficult.

4. Know what you want

Every business serves a purpose. Restaurants serve food to diners, bookstores sell books to readers, and gardeners provide landscaping services to homes and businesses. Whatever purpose your business serves, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it and what you’re trying to accomplish. Your purpose serves as an important guide for business decisions.

Your purpose is easy to define, but whether you’re successful is another thing. The only way to ascertain your success is to identify and measure key metrics. The most common success metric is sales and profit. If you’re not making enough sales, or if you’re not earning money, then you could say your business is failing.

5. Allow your teams to collaborate

Each team thinks of itself as a self-contained unit. While you want your employees to focus on their tasks, this bubble also limits creativity and collaboration. Every organization benefits from diversity, and encouraging cross-collaboration allows you to maximize your human resources. One team’s problems may be solved by another team and vice versa.

The bottom line

These five tips may help you make your business leaner and more efficient. Small changes at the team-level can reverberate throughout the entire organization. You want your employees to work smarter, not harder.

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