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the top tens

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Not all business endeavours are created equal, so before you start your first business venture you need to make sure you are armed with the ten most important survival skills necessary to succeed.

1. Be persistent

Persistence is the ability to focus on the job that needs to be accomplished, combined with the stick-to-itiveness to see it through to completion. When starting a business you will be using skills you never thought you had - but because you are able to hang in there and keep asking questions and collecting essential information, this skill will be your best friend.

2. Be engaged

Being engaging in the context of starting your own business can make the difference between success and failure. When you start your own business you are showcasing your own voice, your unique approach to problems and opportunities and facing your own fears. Once you understand the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, regardless of the situation, this skill helps you to establish meaningful professional relationships.

3. Be inclusive

By being inclusive with every business contact - whether customer, supplier, or employee - your leadership will stand out as enlightened and give you a decisive edge over managing by command and control.

4. Be flexible

One characteristic of starting your own business that is universal is the sheer unpredictability of the process and often the outcome. Even if you are a meticulous planner, owning a business is filled with challenges because you are navigating uncharted waters where anything can happen. Having the ability to "go with the flow" and modify your actions according to the circumstances is essential if you want to keep your sanity and build a long-lasting business.

5. Be knowledgeable

If you are not curious about a variety of topics and eager to build a solid foundation of knowledge about your business, keep your day job. The more information you accumulate that is relevant to a particular issue, the better the result you will achieve. Knowing all of the elements of your business should not be delegated to others unless you intend to bestow the power and control of your company to them as well.

6. Be a perceptive communicator

Are you able to put yourself in the shoes of others and understand their point of view? If this skill eludes you, I suggest that you figure out what you need to do to acquire the tools to get there. The surest way to know what another person is thinking is to ask them. The most effective way to act on the information that was given to you is to listen carefully to the answer and when appropriate act on it.

7. Be resourceful

Can you pull a rabbit out of your hat? Having the ability to think imaginatively - in a new and original way, is an indispensable skill when starting a business. Resourcefulness is especially necessary to solve serious problems-and problems seem like they are never-ending in a young business. Remember, there are many different ways to solve problems - so think expansively and consider lots of options before you proceed.

8. Be a builder of professional relationships

Building professional relationships takes considerable patience and practice. The most genuine way to initiate your professional relationships is through business discussions and negotiations with buyers, customers, other vendors, clients, and others that you meet while conducting business. Don't miss an opportunity to include business relationships in informal events where there is shared interest (sports, seminars, community events, industry gatherings) so that you can get a chance to learn more about each other which will enhance the relationship.

9: Be tightfisted with cash flow

One of the most critical skills in starting a business is the ability to handle money frugally. Many young businesses start with great ideas but not enough money to keep the business going. Cash flow is a straightforward concept - show much money is coming in from sales or other sources and how much money is going out? The critical part of this equation is knowing when is the money coming in and going out, otherwise you run the risk of running out!

10: Being able to laugh at your mistakes

Every first time business owner makes lots of mistakes - it's part of the learning process. If you have the ability to learn from your mistakes and adopt a positive attitude about this painful learning curve you will survive. If you take every misstep personally and let it affect your confidence and passion - the joy and challenge of owning your own business will be gone.

Susan T. Spencer is an entrepreneur, award winning author of Briefcase Essentials, an attorney, business blogger, and former minority owner and GM of the Philadelphia Eagles Football club.

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