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Take the Lead Find out what it takes to get ahead of the competition.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Before he writes one of his bestselling business books on competition, Jason Jennings and his research team spend more than a year doing an exhaustive study of the specific topic at hand. Here, the author of It's Not the Big That Eat the Small... It's the Fast That Eat the Slow and Think Big, Act Small reveals the five characteristics of companies that stay ahead of the competition.

1. They have executives who keep their hands dirty. That means entrepreneurs are on the front lines with customers at least 50 percent of the time. Jennings explains: "This helps them keep their fingers on the pulse in the market they serve."

2. They're quick to let go of yesterday's breadwinners. If a product, service or method worked once but its day has passed, they let it go. "They don't cling to the attitude that if something's always been done this way, it must be done this way," says Jennings. "And they let go of the idea that the CEO's ideas are sacrosanct. Businesses waste too much time trying to breathe life into something that's dead or trying to make something work because it's the CEO's idea."

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