1. They make things people want.
This is probably the most important thing to consider when starting a business. Do you make a product or provide a service people actually want? Too often people come up with an overly creative idea, they assume there's going to be a niche for their product. It's much easier improve upon an existing service or make a better product than it is to forge a new market altogether.
2. They're focused on the customer.
When it comes to business it's all about the customer. The customer will tell you what's important and what's not. They will tell you if they're satisfied or disatisfied. They will tell you what they're disatisfied with. Listening to your customer is a skill you need to build a successful business. It doesn't mean the customer is always right, or the customer knows what's best for your business. It just means they will give you the information you need so that you're moving in the right direction.
3. They're obsessed with processes.
One of the main differences between businesses that flounder and those that grow is their ability to impliment processes. Processes help make a business organized and scalable. They ensure the quality of your product and service is consistent. Processes give you a better chance of coveying the value of your product and service even when you can no longer deal with customers personally. Without processes you'll likely always be at that ma and pa level if you do find success.
4. They have great people.
Processes are great but they only go so far. You can train your people, coach them, encourage them, and so on but if they're simply the wrong person for the job you'll be wasting your resources. Successful businesses need people who can follow the process but use good judgement when something isn't covered by policy or requires a snap decision. Businesses need people with skills that are based on actual experience. Those people are few and far between, are usually employed already, and dictate a better than average salary. Always be keeping your eye out for great people and hand on to them when you get them.
5. They're willing to change.
You need to be stuborn and determined at times when building a business. But you can't be so stuborn and determined that you're inflexible. The best businesses can move forward into the scray new world of change. That means keeping up with changing market conditions, experimenting, and taking chances. Be careful not to get stuck in the status quo.