In a highly competitive, globally connected market, what exactly does it take for your small business to succeed? Being an entrepreneur means many different things to different people, but what are the qualities that mark some people out as natural born leaders?

Just as much as having a great business idea and knowing your audience, the qualities that you have will determine the success or failure of your start-up. Here are five of the most important…

1) Competitive Nature

It’s tough out there, as entrepreneurs now compete in a truly global economy, where your biggest competitor is as likely to be halfway across the world as in the next town over.

With the advent of the internet, having eroded the entry barrier, more and more companies are coming into existence – which means only those led by someone with a competitive nature stand a chance of succeeding. This runs at sharp odds to the societal emphasis on leveling the playing field and taking away from individual achievement.

However, that does present real opportunities for individuals determined to push themselves, and create greater economic good while doing so.

2) Laser Focus

Today’s business leader is also faced with an unprecedented level of ‘noise’ – from overactive email to constant smartphone alerts and intrusive advertising – so developing the ability to prioritize and focus is absolutely essential.

Don’t allow yourself to get weighed down in distractions and admin tasks that pull your focus in a million different directions. Don’t allow someone else’s ‘urgent’ task to draw you away from your own.

This all takes practice of course – and you can help yourself out with a little technological boost.

Install software that temporarily disables social networking sites, turn off the email and other notifications, and seek out smart software solutions that automate business admin processes, such as mobile apps that take care of your invoicing or platforms like which cut down on the never-ending paper trail.

3) Communication Skills

Life is all about communication. You can have the best ideas in the world, but if you can’t articulate them to others in a clear, concise fashion, you won’t be able to succeed.

Whether it’s convincing a panel of angel investors for a cash injection, writing a compelling crowdfunding page, planning out that update to stakeholders, or letting employees know what the top line vision and strategy is, you need to be able to convince people to support you and your business.

The secret lies in finding a way to tailor your message and make it relevant to the audience. Humans buy into stories and finding a compelling narrative about what you do and why is what will make your company stand out from all the rest.

Qualities You Need To Succeed In Business

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4) Analysis

You’ll be making a lot of decisions very rapidly when you run your own business. So it’s vital to develop the skill to take the insights from your actions and apply them in a measured way.

Don’t be afraid to take small-scale risks in order to learn something – just make sure that you know what you want to learn from it. Failure is actually equally as important as success here because it teaches you more about how to evolve your operations. But it’s only valid if you can bring analysis to bear to make sure you get the lesson.

Operating in a big data economy, it’s possible to know almost anything about your target customers – so use your analytic skills to avoid data paralysis by being able to pick out the insights which are most pertinent to your own goals.

5) Advocacy

And finally, make sure that you champion yourself, your cause and those of your employees and stakeholders. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, it’s impossible for anyone else to do so.

Sometimes this can be hard when life hits an inevitable rough patch, so consider keeping a list of reasons your company will make a difference in the world, and let this be your guiding light if your confidence ever takes a knock.