Article Summary: Marc Goldberg, a volunteer with the Cape Code and the Islands chapter of the mentoring group SCORE, knows a thing or two about building a successful business—even in a very seasonal economy like Cape Cod.

SCORE on Cape Cod | OnDeck Resource Center

When I asked him if there were any traits that he's noticed successful small business owners have in common, he shared the following seven traits:

  1. They exhibit self-control and restraint
  2. They think through the business and understand the dynamics of what makes the business go
  3. They are good planners
  4. They recognize they are marketers and are willing to market their businesses
  5. They seek advice and assistance when needed
  6. They concentrate on where they'll get the most return

I have to agree. I think these are great traits to foster when building a business. Continue reading to learn more.

If you’re not familiar with SCORE, you should be. These are men and women all across the United States who’ve retired from leading their own businesses, both large and small, and now donate their time to help small business owners like you build successful and thriving companies.

As part of our partnership with SCORE at OnDeck, I’ve had the privilege of working with many of these volunteers, and have to admit, I wish I’d known about this group of really smart people when I had my own business.

It doesn’t matter if you have questions regarding marketing, accounting, operations, or finance, there is someone at SCORE who can help you build a strategy and execute a plan that will help your business. If you’ve ever thought, “I wish I knew someone who had been there and done that before,” this is the place you need to go.

A few days ago, I spoke with Marc Goldberg, a volunteer with the Cape Cod and the Islands SCORE chapter. Before becoming a SCORE volunteer, he’d owned his own successful tradeshow marketing business for 28 years. Because of the seasonal nature of many of the small businesses he works with in Cape Cod, he’s often helping business owners that have a relatively short season to earn profits for the year—from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

Like most of the SCORE volunteers I’ve met over the last few years, Marc works with brand new businesses, businesses that have been around for a few years, as well as business owners who are thinking about exiting after a successful career. When you are a seasonal businesses, and the population of your community is 214,000 people, with three or four times that during the season, these businesses face some challenges that may be familiar to other seasonal businesses, but completely foreign to many small business owners.

“Good planning with appropriate revenue and sales goals are critical,” he says. “It’s important to have a good accounts receivables plan, to watch your cash every day, along with a plan to finance your business during the off season.”

I think some of this advice for seasonal businesses like those on Cape Cod could apply for any business. When I asked him what he thought the most successful business owners in his area shared, he didn’t hesitate (I think this advice applies to every business):

  1. “They exhibit self-control and restraint.” Building a successful business may require a little bit of risk taking from time to time, but being able to thoughtfully approach that risk without recklessness is an important trait of successful small business owners.
  2. “They think through the business and understand the dynamics of what makes the business go.” Many small business owners are what Michael Gerber, in his book, The E-Myth Revisited, would call technicians. Being a skilled auto mechanic, for example, isn’t all it takes to run a successful auto repair business. Marc suggests, and I agree, that most successful businesses are run by people who understand where and how their businesses make profits, they understand the accounting process, and know what it takes to bring customers in the door.
  3. “They don’t just hope their businesses will be successful.” Although we all hope our businesses will be successful, we understand that it takes a lot more to make it happen. Thomas Edison once said, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” The successful entrepreneurs I know all understand that there’s nothing easy about running their own businesses and they typically roll up their sleeves and go to work.
  4. “They are good planners.” Most of the successful people I know don’t fly by the seat of their pants. They set goals and establish a plan to meet those goals. That’s particularly true for those who lead successful small businesses.
  5. “They recognize they are marketers and are willing to invest in marketing their businesses.” Growing up in my Dad’s small business, he used to always say, “We’re all in sales.” It didn’t matter what I was doing, I was always a representative of his company whenever I was dealing with customers. I think the same is true for marketing. Every successful small business owner understands that he or she is a marketer. They invest the time and resources required to introduce their businesses to the market and regularly invest in their marketing efforts. P.T. Barnum famously said, “Without promotion something terrible happens. Nothing.”
  6. “They seek advice and assistance when needed.” Small business owners wear a lot of hats to run a small business, but it’s an unrealistic expectation that they will be experts at everything they do. Smart business leaders aren’t afraid to ask for advice or help when they need it. They look for those who can help their business grow. It could be a good bookkeeper, a copywriter, a good banker, good insurance people, an expert salesperson, or even a mentor—like the folks at SCORE.
  7. “They concentrate on where they’ll get the most return.” There are a lot of places a business owner can spend his or her time and resources. Successful owners try to spend their time and money where it will provide the most bang for the buck. In other words, they are always trying to maximize the value of everything they are doing.

If you have a small business in the Cape Cod area, look up Marc Goldberg or one of his colleagues. If you’re not on Cape Cod, you can visit to find a mentor near you. I’ve personally met with dozens of these business experts from all across the country and without hesitation can recommend them to you. It will cost you nothing to meet with them. They’re trying to give back to the small business community because they understand the important role you play and want to share some of the successes they’ve had. Their advice will help you build a healthy and thriving business—and they have a track record that demonstrates that.

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