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Be lean, stay lean

Everyone starts lean. You have to. Expenses pared to the bone, no wasted space, low overheads. It's all about survival. However that's the easy bit. The really hard bit is to stay lean. Because what invariably happens when we become successful is that we get fat. For instance we:

  • Keep hold of unproductive and even disruptive staff

  • Retain marginal products

  • Build up lots of 'support' staff

  • Spend money on fancy promotional activities

  • Waste lots of paper and stationery

  • Buy lots of superfluous software

  • Spend lots on training in all sorts of things

In other words, we get fat. Don't do it! Stay lean. If you do avoid these temptations and stay relatively lean then you will cope much better in the bad times i.e. the inevitable recession, as well as making good profits in the good times. What you will often find is that after a recession or downturn, lots of business leaders will say things like "it made us sharper" or "it got us back to reality". They talk as if the recession was a good thing! What they are really saying is that they allowed their companies to get fat - they didn't stay lean. You are smarter than that. Stay lean - in good times and not just in the bad times. Don't build up a management hierarchy with lots of 'planners', 'co-ordinators', 'support staff' - stay with small teams focused on well defined, specific tasks; don't go in for lots of advertising and promotion - sales people bring in orders, not marketing campaigns; invest in training only where there is a clearly defined, visible, business need; drop any loss making products; monitor those overhead expenses month by month.

Be lean and stay lean.

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