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How Can Lean Principles Help Your Small Business?

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Small business owners are in a unique position. There is always the desire to improve upon what you are doing and maximize profits, but because of the very nature of being a small business, not every avenue is available. This is exactly why small business owners need to be open to a variety of principles and practices that can positively impact the company.

One area you may want to do some research into and think about how it could benefit your small business is lean. This is a term that is often thrown around when discussing large businesses, but it can also be quite advantageous for small companies. So, read on to learn how lean principles can help your small business.


Identify Waste in the Business

The main goal of lean manufacturing is to identify waste and eliminate it. It’s quite simple at its core, and when you just look at it as eliminating waste it’s clear that any business of any size could benefit. Waste is something that happens in many businesses at one point or another, and it may not even be clear to business owners that it is happening.

The typical areas that waste tends to occur are in inventory, over-production, transportation, motion, defects, waiting and over-processing. Now, the company may not have waste in all of these areas, but these are the key ones to keep an eye on and assess. When you’re able to eliminate or even decrease the amount of waste, profits will increase. It’s that simple.

It Encourages Businesses to Use Up-to-Date Data

Another way lean principles can help your small business is the fact they encourage the company to use up-to-date and accurate information. You can’t rely on out-of-date data or incomplete information. With accurate data at hand, you are then able to properly assess where the company is and make informed decisions.

The Ideal Way to Improve Efficiency and Productivity

Business owners are often concerned about efficiency and productivity. There is often a desire to improve both of them but it’s not always clear how you go about it. In a small business, you don’t always have the luxury of time to try different approaches hoping to eventually get it right. You want to adopt processes and principles that improve efficiency and productivity right away.

This is where lean principles can prove to be incredibly useful. Because they adopt so many practices in one, it’s an all-encompassing way to make improvements and start to see results rather quickly.

Make the Jobs of Employees Easier

Small business owners are often concerned with their bottom line, and rightly so, but another thing they need to be aware of is employee satisfaction. Constant turnover and the inability to attract and retain top talent can negatively impact a business. 

When you adopt lean principles, processes will ultimately be streamlined, which means employees won’t be wasting time on redundant and unnecessary tasks. Employees will know every step they take is necessary, and that their time isn’t being wasted. It is amazing what this can do for employee satisfaction and morale. Suddenly your top talent will want to stick around, and you may start to find it easier to attract people to the business.

Enjoy Better Quality Products

Another benefit that you may not have been aware of is that lean manufacturing can result in better product quality. Just think about how that will translate to your customers – they will be getting better quality products, which will make them more satisfied, and will help in terms of competition with other companies vying for the same customers.

Delays Become Minimized

Delays can severely and negatively impact a business, so finding ways to eliminate or at least reduce delays is important. Once again, lean manufacturing will have an impact in this area making sure that delays are few and far between.

Sustainability Has Become a Real Consideration

With so much focus on climate change, companies are moving towards a more sustainable business model that takes into account how they can improve production and processes. Less waste is a win in terms of sustainability and because that is the very cornerstone of lean manufacturing, you know you’re doing right by the environment.

Creating a more sustainable business can also help where customer relations are concerned. Today’s customers are also mindful of the impact on the environment and are looking to support businesses that adopt greener and more sustainable business practices. This is the kind of thing you can advertise and use when creating brand awareness.

Consider a Background in Lean Manufacturing When Hiring

The final tip is to consider how those with a background in lean manufacturing (education and experience) can benefit your business. A master’s in lean manufacturing online through a school such as Kettering Global prepares graduates to embrace and implement lean manufacturing principles. 

Graduates of this type of master’s program can go on to be lean/continuous improvement managers, R&D/product development managers, quality management employees, supply chain VPs, or VPs of manufacturing and production to name a few. Even in a small business, there can still be room for these types of positions and those with the proper skills and training.

Lean Principles Aren’t New – They Are Tried and Proven

Now, maybe you’ve never even heard of lean principles and are therefore concerned about these drastic measures and principles. Here’s the thing: lean principles are nothing new. The principles go back to the 1940s when it was Toyota that first adopted lean manufacturing. The idea was to streamline and reduce any processes that didn’t provide value to their products. It was all about improving productivity and efficiency. From there, lean manufacturing has been embraced around the world, providing companies of all sizes with incredible results.

Lean Principles Don’t Just Benefit Large Companies

It’s important to recognize not only how helpful lean principles can be, but the fact they can help businesses of all sizes, including your small business. It’s the kind of principles that can have a dramatic and positive effect on your business and its bottom line – profits.