No matter who you are in business, there are times when it can seem like you’re moving through mud. Sometimes it feels like it’s hard to gain momentum and you just can’t keep up- with the competition and with your own expectations of yourself. Here are five ways to increase speed in your business, starting today.

Increase your speed

You definitely want to keep up, but I don't recommend running with your laptop.

1. Lay Your Foundation to Increase Speed

Initially, you have to have speed-boosting foundations, otherwise any strategies that you add will just create chaos and make things more difficult. Instead, use the fundamentals to create a basis for you to increase speed and you’ll be in better shape to add the other strategies.

Choose a goal

The first step to laying your foundation to increase your speed is to choose your goal. You can start with large-scale goals like, where do you want your business to be in five years? Then narrow things down and set project-specific goals. One of my clients recently set 5-year and 1-year goals, as well as some specific goals related to products he wants to have manufactured and on the market. This allows him to see where he’s going, an important component to moving faster.

Create a plan to get there

Once you’ve set your goals, now you need to create a plan to get there. This is your roadmap, and having a roadmap allows you to make decisions and act much more quickly. If what comes up is on the roadmap, you do it. If it’s not, you don’t. Every decision is guided by, “Is this a good fit with our roadmap?” (of course, once in awhile, a great opportunity will come up that doesn’t fit neatly onto the roadmap, so be prepared to be flexible!)

Strategize time-savers

Look for shortcuts everywhere. If you’re getting junk email, weed it out. If you’re mixing business time with personal tasks, cut it out. Dedicate specific hours of every day for no-interruption work and during that time, accept no phone calls, don’t check email, and don’t look at social media.

Also, find ways to empower employees so that you reduce bureaucracy. One of the biggest places where businesses waste time is in forcing employees to go up the chain of command to get answers to simple questions they probably could’ve answered themselves. Give your employees more room and you’ll save a ton of time.

Make decisions

One of the ways I find clients falling behind is that they put off decisions, following the old, “Never do today what you can do tomorrow” concept. Instead, get into the practice of making every decision now. As soon as you have all the information you need, make the decision. No putting things off, no procrastination. Do it now.

2. Create Systems

Build time-saving systems into your business. For example, one of my clients has to create a custom quote for every order that she fills. Rather than start from scratch, we created a pricing system that automatically generates the quote and the invoice that can be completed and emailed to the client within minutes. These are the systems you need in your business.

Start looking at every aspect of your business- is there anywhere that you can save time? Another client of mine was frustrated by how long it took to schedule appointments. The back-and-forth emails just to find a reasonable time made no sense to her, so we set up a web site where her clients can go to see available times in her schedule and choose the times that work best for them.

Are there areas of your business that can be automated? Are there systems you can put into place that make things move faster? These are the things you should be looking at to increase your speed.

Warp speed

Warp speed ahead!

3. Experiment with Time-Boosters

There are so many ways of increasing your productivity. Some experts suggest “to do” lists. Others say those are verboten. Some productivity experts recommend not looking at your email until the middle of the day. Most days, I check my email before I even get out of bed. The question isn’t “What works?” but rather “What works for you?” If a productivity strategy doesn’t work for you, then it won’t save you time. It’ll cost you. So experiment with recommendations and suggestions for time-savers and time-boosters, but settle on what works best for you, no matter what the experts say.

4. Set Deadlines

One way you can reduce procrastination is to set deadlines and stick to them. If you’ve been putting off a decision because it’s a hard one or if there’s something you need to do but haven’t done, set deadlines for yourself and make those things a priority. I could have chosen any date for my record breaking webcast, but instead of giving myself a ton of time, I decided to test my own mettle and set a deadline that was just 1 1/2 months into the future. Talk about moving with speed!

5. Take Action. NOW.

You know why you hear “take action” all the time? Because taking action is the biggest, most important thing you can do to increase your speed. If you’re going to keep up with the competition and increase your speed so your business grows faster, you’ve got to take action. It’s the single most important thing you should take away from this article.

Maybe you do the right thing. Maybe you do the wrong thing. But either way, you’ve taken action and done something. Even if you’re scared, take action anyway. The only thing that not taking action will get you is exactly what you’ve had all along. If you want to keep up and increase your speed, moving forward in your business, the best thing you can do, the one thing you should do is take action NOW.