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11 traits found in successful business people

by David James

According to research, there are actually several common character traits that all successful business people possess.

And the great news about all these traits, is that they don’t belong solely to the special few; they can be learned, they can be developed, and they can become a part of anyone’s range.

So what are these traits?

Bill Gates secret success tipst5


Multi-billionaire and serial entrepreneur Mike Harris credits his business success to having the ability to draw others in with his own enthusiasm.

Your enthusiasm towards a business and its products or services can have a captivating effect on customers, employers, managers and stakeholders.

Ultimately, if you want to succeed, you need enthusiasm. It will make people buy into you, trust you and want to work with you.

A drive for sales

If you look closely, you can see that all the top business players climbed the career ladder by increasing business profit through sales activities.

Direct marketing copywriter, Dan S. Kennedy, believes that people who are very good at sales have conditioned themselves to be very good persuaders.

So, if your selling skills are weak, your priority is now to develop them until your ability to persuade people becomes second nature.


Take a look at some of the most successful people in business: Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, Rupert Murdoch, Mary Burra, Warren Buffet, Angela Merkel, Bill Gates and Anne Sherry (just to name a few). What do you see? You can probably sum it up in one word: confidence.

People that appear confident tend to project the idea that they will excel in their job and will present well in front of clients and the media. These are the qualities that grab the attention of hiring managers.

By projecting confidence, even if you don’t 100% feel it, people will believe in your abilities and your value to their business.

Warren Buffet business tips


Your likeability has a huge impact on your career progression. In fact, in most cases, people will choose to work with you only if they like you.

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich writes that “a pleasing personality” is a crucial step towards success in business.

So the key here, is to work out what traits will appeal to the people that you are communicating with, and then develop them in yourself.


Founder and CEO of Adore Beauty, Kate Morris believes that having the ability to create is essential for succeeding in business.

Business managers routinely face complex problems and challenges that require creative and innovative solutions.

People that can solve problems, create new ideas and ‘think outside of the box’ are appealing because they will always find creative ways to make things work.


Stephenson Mansell, Group Chairman at Virginia Mansell, believes that proactive people are more agile and able to embrace changes and challenges, compared to their reactive counterparts.

Mansell says, “Be proactive, initiate, be confident with requests and sell and promote yourself when opportunities emerge. Embrace and be comfortable with fast-paced change.”

Ways you can improve your productivity include:

  • setting yourself ambitious goals
  • taking action on your work tasks
  • fulfilling goals
  • being prepared to push boundaries
  • creating new opportunities


Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Good business people are always open to learning new things, new ways of seeing and doing.

According to one of the most powerful business leaders in today’s economy, Sheryl Sandberg, “The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”

Businesses want to hire the best talent that will propel their organisation forward. A great sign for hiring managers is seeing a candidate’s eagerness to learn as much as possible about the business and industry.

If you want to make it in the world of business, actively seek out opportunities to learn. Whether that be from work colleagues, industry peers, mentors, books, seminars and even internet research!

Steve Jobs in business

Attention to detail

Big problems in business arise from ignoring the smallest details. In order for a business to succeed, business leaders must monitor details.

Poor attention to detail increases the risk of bad product and service delivery, which can seriously damage a business’ reputation.

Sir Richard Branson is a good example of a business leader that lives by attention to detail, saying “Think small to grow big. Keep your eye on the bigger picture, but don’t slip on attention to detail.”

Attention to detail not only protects business from risk, but it also shows how much you value your work.

In fact, Open Colleges’ Program Manager Jason Roberts lists “Having an eye for detail” as the number one trait employers are looking for.


Being able to listen is one of the most effective tools in building working business relationships.

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People said it best:

To be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments. Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems.”

Good listeners breed loyalty and earn respect. It is the quickest and most effective way to make a positive impact in your business career.

So if you want to be a business leader, start with learning how to actively listen to those around you.

Women in business


Communicating effectively is one of the most important traits for succeeding in business.

Marketing expert Zig Ziglar said, “In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires and encourages others to do their best.”

Have a look around the business marketplace and you will notice that most good business people have honed the art of communication. Take for example, Sir Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey. A lot of their appeal lies in the way they communicate with the world.

So how do you hone your communication skills? According to motivational expert Tony Robbins, “To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”


Positivity is key to success in the business world.

According to CNN founder Ted Turner, “I have never run into a guy who could win at the top level in anything today and didn’t have the right attitude, didn’t give it everything he had, at least while he was doing it; wasn’t prepared and didn’t have the whole program worked out.”

Make the choice every day to be optimistic, positive and happy and your career will flourish!

keys to success in business

Success is 11 steps away!

So there you have it, the 11 traits that are found in most successful business people: enthusiasm, a drive for sales, confidence, likeability, productivity, creativity, learning, attention to detail, listening, communication and positivity.

If you can learn to develop and harness these qualities within yourself, you will give yourself an amazing boost up the business ladder, and may earn yourself some impressive professional connections, endorsements and employment opportunities.

Get down to business

Open Colleges has a number of qualifications that are designed to give students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the business world.

1 Response

  1. Francis Kim says:

    Zig Ziglar! This post just reminded me to go listen to his podcast 🙂

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