How to “Lean Out” Your Business For Next Level Growth

Oct 29, 2021 | Listen

How to "Lean Out" Your Business For Next Level Growth

We all want our businesses to become successful and sustainable.

But this can be a challenge, especially if you’re unsure what aspect of your business to prioritize. The struggle, confusion, and overwhelm are real.

However, there is a solution – using the principles of lean.

If appropriately implemented, it ensures a healthy and sustainable growth rate for your business. It increases value and productivity while looking at ways to decrease waste.

But what does it mean to “lean out” your business exactly? And how does it affect your bottom line?

Today, my guest is Crista Grasso, the creator of both the Lean Out Method and the 90-Day Lean Out Planner.

We break down what “leaning out” your growing business looks like, how it affects hiring your team, and what steps to take to deliver maximum value to your customers.

Timestamps for this week’s episode

  • 2:30 What is a lean business and how does it apply to non-manufacturing businesses?

  • 8:00 What are the steps that founders can take to get them to lean out their business?

  • 15:40 How does a lean business work when hiring & putting teams together?

  • 19:15 Common mistakes when small businesses start leaning out?

  • 24:15 How to stay true to the lean method as your business grows and scales up.

What is a lean business and how does it apply to non-manufacturing businesses?

A lean business is all about increasing value in productivity and decreasing waste.

The lean method identifies what matters in your business, what provides value to your clients and profit to your business, and then eliminates everything else because they are non-value-add.

It can also be applied to all businesses, even small ones, and not just really massive companies, like those in the manufacturing or technology sphere.

What you say no is just important as what you say yes to.

What are the steps that founders can take to get them to lean out their business?

  1. Define your vision. Think about:
  • Your business in the future
  • Yourself in the future
  • Your clients/customers in the future

Clarifying your vision will help answer questions you might have regarding your business:

  • Am I working on the right things?
  • Am I directionally correct?
  • Where am I investing my time, money, and energy?

  • 2. Revisit your business model
  • Does it still match your new/updated vision?
  • Is it delivering the results that you want for your business & clients?

It helps prevent a Frankenstein/hodgepodge business model and it also gives you the space to evaluate if the business still fulfills you and gives you joy.

“Your data helps you stay focused and reminds you of what’s important and why you’re doing the things that you’re doing.” Crista Grasso

How does a lean business work when hiring & putting teams together?

Lean hiring is NOT hiring just a bare-bones team and making them wear 75 hats.

It’s also NOT refusing to hire any more staff until you absolutely have to.

Lean “Dream Team” hiring is:

  • To make strategic hires that are tied to your vision for your business – specifically the next level you’re trying to get your business to achieve
  • Hiring team members to help build up profit and revenue potential in your business
  • Hiring people and aligning them to their natural strengths for a more productive, happy, and long-lasting ecosystem for your business

Common mistakes when small businesses start leaning out?

A common reaction for many who have started their lean journey is an attack of the “Yeah, buts..”

  • “Yeah, but like no one said I was gonna cut this”
  • “Yeah, but I already said I was going to, and this person is relying on me to do this.”

Leaning out your business means embracing change, and “yeah buts” are usually signs of resistance to impending changes to previously committed actions or behaviors.

It is an attack of self-doubt, nervousness, and uncertainty when it is time to implement the significant changes and improvements you need to make, and can kill the momentum.

These feelings are natural since change is hard, and it’s best to know beforehand that these feelings will crop up as you transition to a lean business.

The key for us, as small business owners and entrepreneurs is to look at the principles and the practices that work well and adapt them and make them right for our type of business.

How to stay true to the lean method as your business grows and scales up.

There are four core components that you’ll always need as you scale and at whatever stage of growth, your business is currently in.

  1. the right strategies
  2. leveraging lean strategic planning
  3. the right systems
  4. the right team

These four pillars stay consistent in your business as you scale but might look slightly different per stage.

It’s a state of continuous improvement, one you’re never done with and grows with you. And as your business grows, it just shapes and evolves in different ways.

Change is really hard. As an entrepreneur, being decisive and willing to unapologetically say no to the things that are not right for you are two of the best skills that you can develop and hone over time because they are not natural.


  • A lean business maximizes value in productivity and minimizes waste.

It is not exclusive to big businesses and smaller companies can benefit from it as well.

  • When you start leaning out your business:
  1. Define your vision, specifically how you see your business, your clients, and yourself in the future.
  2. Revisit your business model and check if it still delivers the results you want for your business & clients.
  • Lean hiring is all about making strategic hires based on your vision in preparation for where you want to be in the future. It’s also handpicking a team that can help you, the founder, focus on your zone of creativity and that will bring in revenue and profit into your business.
  • A common reaction in those starting to lean out their business is hesitation and uncertainty, especially when it’s time for action to implement organizational, procedural, and other changes.
  • When using lean, 4 components should be a part of your business – at whatever stage of growth:
    • right strategies,
    • lean strategic planning,
    • the right systems,
    • and the right team.
  • Leaning out is a state of continuous improvement, evolving along with your business as it grows.


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About guest – Crista Grasso

Strategic Planning Expert & Creator of Lean Out Method

Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale.

She is also the creator of the Lean Out Method” and the “90-Day Lean Out Planner” and helps clients focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably.

She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on what will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business.

Crista is also the host of the “Lean Out Your Business Podcast.”



About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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