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Using Lean Six Sigma to Expand Your Business

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By Barbara Beauregard   |    October 15, 2014   |    2:13 PM

What is Lean Six Sigma and How Can It Help Your Startup?

Startups usually don’t have a lot of capital or resources when the business is launched. This means doing more with a lot less than other companies. The principles of Lean Six Sigma lend itself to helping startups streamline processes to be more efficient and to eliminate wasteful practices.

What is Lean Six Sigma? defines Lean as “a method of streamlining a process, resulting in increased revenue, reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction”. The goal of Lean is to reduce the amount of waste within a project. Waste is any type of action that is not necessary to completing the project – or that may even be a hindrance. Eliminating wasteful practices and activities will improve how fast a product is made and delivered to the client, and the overall quality.

How This Principle Can Be Applied to Startups

Lean Six Sigma allows startups to grow their business and significantly increase revenues by improving processes. Here are some ways to use Lean principles to help your startup grow:

1. Streamline processes: Processes are often filled with time-consuming and unnecessary steps. Review the current business processes, and eliminate any procedures that aren’t required to get the job done.

2. Ensure that employees/contractors are following the new procedures: If people are used to doing things a certain way, they may revert back to those ways after a little while. To stop the regression, train employees and contractors on the new steps, and then have refresher courses every month or few months on the new procedures.

3. Effectively use resources: Review all of the startup’s resources and manpower. Look at projects, and determine how many people are needed – and only use that number of people. Don’t hire extra employees or contractors “just to be safe”. This will guarantee that everyone has something to do and that an extra person does not interfere with the overall functioning of the team. It will also keep costs down.

4. Empower employees: Learn to trust employees, and give them control over their portion of the project. Make them understand that they are necessary to the growth and success of the organization. Involve employees in the decision-making and improvement processes. They are more apt to see where processes could be enhanced before someone who is not working on the project daily. 

5. Constantly analyze results: A company that fully embraces Lean Six Sigma should drastically reduce “defects” or issues to about 3.4 defects per million. This means that customers will receive products with fewer issues and generally in correct working order. The only way to constantly ensure this is by analyzing results on a continual basis and making sure that processes and progress isn’t regressing.

Lean Six Sigma can help any startup become more effective at using resources and delivering quality products. Customers will appreciate products that work and will be more apt to continue using the business and recommending it to their colleagues.

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