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Time and cost-saving hacks for small businesses

Working towards being leaner is becoming a popular way for businesses of all sizes to eliminate waste while saving time and money.

By reorganising the workspace, businesses can keep money in their pockets and create a more efficient process. Whether it is the packing room in the back shed, or production space on the kitchen table.” — Brad Jeavons, Signet Business Improvement Manager.

We’ve shared advice on how your small business can benefit by applying a few simple steps of Lean thinking.

Reduce unnecessary movement

Moving packaging supplies around or collecting papers from the printer are both considered movement. Ensuring any unnecessary movement is avoided will help save time and allow you to get on with other jobs.

Man working on laptop on packing benchMan working on laptop on packing bench

TIP: This can be achieved by:

  • Following a process through from start to finish and seeing where movement is happening can help identify whether it can be reduced or eliminated.
  • Move frequently used objects and processes closer together. For example, it would not make sense to have the label printer across the room from the packing station.

Eliminate storage waste

Floor and storage space are valuable assets for small businesses. If your business has a large product range, you might face the challenge of figuring out where to store it all. On top of storing finished products, packaging materials and raw materials are often space eaters.

Some negatives associated with holding stock are:

  • Safety risks.
  • Storage costs.
  • Space is taken up by products that are not being used.
  • If an item is kept in stock too long, it might lose value and result in wasted money.

TIP: Know your customers’ needs and order frequency. If these are known, stock levels can be more easily managed. Investing in packaging systems that are more compact take up less room should also be considered.

Limit waiting times

There are many sources of waiting waste, such as lack of the materials needed to make your product, packaging materials, broken equipment, or unbalanced workloads. Look at what stage in the process you are having to wait and for how long and see if there is a way it can be reduced. If waiting times can’t be avoided, completing other tasks during this time is key to maintaining productivity.

TIP: The below points may help to reduce waiting waste:

  • Have systems in place to trigger re-ordering when the packaging and materials inventory is low to avoid running out.
  • Keep maintenance tools handy, or if possible, have a backup machine.
  • To solve unbalanced workloads, redistribute longer tasks to multiple employees or those that are more likely to complete them faster.

Don’t make more product than you can sell

Making more of a product than you are selling at any point in time, or, making them before you have received any orders for them can lead to a waste of time and money.


TIP: If you can, make your items to order. When there is a lull in demand, take the time to complete other tasks. This could be training new staff, assembling cardboard boxes, maintaining machinery, or any other task that could not be done while your business is producing at full capacity.


Signet customer and WA local, Murchison River Swags, hand-make their swags to order to avoid cost and time wastes associated with over-production.

Murchison River Swag StencillingMurchison River Swag Stencilling

Utilise employee talent

Not using your employees’ talents, or not training them properly is one of the easiest ways to lose money and time. Whether it is time and cost waste because of an order mix-up due to an untrained staff member, or an area of the business where their skills could help increase revenue.

You may notice that you have employees who are very capable of working beyond their current level of work or vastly improving their current tasks. Empowering them to use their talents effectively could be a huge boost to your business due to higher productivity rates and a happier workplace.

TIP: Engaging with people is one of the simplest and most effective ways to understand problems and points of success.

Whether a business is made up of two or twenty people, you can become Leaner and more competitive when wastes are reduced.

These wastes often are not obvious, however, when identified and resolved, time and cost savings, faster service, happier customers, and improved safety may be the result.

If you would like to speak with a Signet team member about how we can help you become leaner within your business, call us on 13 7446, email, or Live Chat with us by visiting