Nine Strategies for Staying Lean With Business Growth

When a business is growing, leaders must be careful not to do too much too fast to keep the budget in check.

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.

Business growth can do wonders for increasing the reach of an organization, but leaders must be careful not to do too much too fast. Expenses that are not kept in check can impact a business's operations and the procedures in place that keep things running smoothly. One wrong decision can easily strain a limited budget.

With growing expenses, it's important to have a strategy for managing the budget and planning for future financial changes ahead. Below, the members of Newsweek Expert Forum shared advice on how business leaders can save money and stay lean as their business grows.

1. Lean Into Revenue-Increasing Investments

When you're overlooking that canyon, knowing you don't have the resources yet to jump from where you are to where you're going, it only makes sense to take that leap or financial gamble when the investment you're making will contribute to increased revenue. It's not smart to take a leap of faith when the investment is strictly in overhead, as you'll ultimately scramble more to support that spend. - April Margulies, Trust Relations

2. Be Frugal

After I took over as CEO and recorded the company's first year of profitability in the firm's existence, I told my board chair that part of my turnaround philosophy was that I was cheap. He corrected me, saying I had demonstrated frugality. Being frugal means you prioritize your needs and invest accordingly. Being cheap means you look to spend only the lowest cost and end up with a bunch of crap. - Cheri Beranek, Clearfield

3. Critically Examine Potential Opportunities

Learn to say no early. Oftentimes people forget to view things as critically as possible, getting excited about something but viewing its potential through rose-colored glasses. You should invest in building something only once you learn to do things when the market really supports the endeavor and it has been shown to be successful. - Noah Mitsuhashi, noahmitsuhashi.io

4. Identify What Changes Are Needed

Organizational growth should be strategic and incremental. It is important to identify what changes are needed to achieve the growth initiatives, as well as the financials and human capital needed so that those things can be built into the expense projection and revenue models. - LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group

5. Plan for Future Bandwidth Constraints

Ideally, businesses would be right-sized with the staff being fully utilized, but striving for a perfect utilization rate invariably leads to burnout through the regular course of life events. Embrace this and build future bandwidth into staffing plans to avoid the risk of employees becoming stretched thin and missing growth targets due to a desire to stay as lean as possible. - Jacob Kupietzky, HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting

6. Leverage Employees' Strengths

Optimize the strengths of your current employees and give them opportunities to learn new areas of the business and skill sets. Diversifying the workloads of your employees not only allows your organization to stay lean through growth, but it also exposes your employees to different career paths and keeps them engaged. - Jenna Hinrichsen, Advanced RPO

7. Understand the Future Impact of Changes

It is important to build an ownership mindset within the company and set the right incentives for employees to take initiative. Scale may not be achieved with more assets and more capital. Before you add more capital and assets to solve a problem, do the math to find out how that will impact the problem and what the priority areas should be. Once that's clear, add assets or capital to achieve scale. - Sumit Aneja, Voxco Survey Software

8. Prioritize Decisions That Add Future Value

An organization can deploy capital as long as they're able to outperform both their own key performance indicators and the market's key performance indicators. If you're running a growth-centric company, you have to be thinking, "How do I deploy my capital best to gain more resources in the future through my actions of creating value today?" - Anthem Blanchard, HeraSoft

9. Make it a Collaborative Effort

Keep it simple by asking the people who know where improvements and savings can be made—those doing the job. Ask everyone! If you create a "we, not me" culture where everyone genuinely wants the organization to succeed, engage them all in staying lean and finding savings as part of their day-to-day work. That's often way more accurate, effective and profitable than C-suite directed savings. - Chris Roebuck, Simply Success

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
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