The most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders are those that find a way to stay ahead of the competition.

The National Business Awards Chair of Judges, Dame Helen Alexander advises that one of the most important aspects of business is to make sure that you know what your customers want. She also recommends having a clear business goal, but making sure you are flexible enough to realise that it can and will change and to ensure that you are in a position to evolve your business plan. MP Michael Fallon muses that the key is to make sure that you search out advice from those already in business, and with record low interest rates, he tells businesses now is the time to go for it.

In the Business Without Barriers report, published by the National Business Awards, which surveyed over 500 Business decision makers throughout the country and researched attitudes towards growth and prospects for the year ahead - 80% of firms said that international sales will be key to their growth. Both Dame Helen Alexander and Michael Fallon agree that businesses should start maximising international opportunities or risk being left behind.

They also discuss networking, which is now widely accepted as an important business tool. Dame Helen approaches this as a way to learn from others in business and Michael Fallon agrees it's an important aspect of the business world.