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Monday, March 29, 1999
The business plan is a road map for your journey to a successful enterprise

by Helen Jung
Seattle Times staff reporter

It doesn't matter if you've got a fistful of cash and a hot idea. Like it or not, you've got to do your homework.

A business plan is a cross between a research paper and an advertisement. It's a comprehensive document that provides lenders, potential investors and, most important, yourself a vision for your company. It includes important details about the business, outlines the obstacles, points out the opportunities and then plugs in your personal plan for success.

The effort you put into articulating research and vision into a business plan is crucial to whether your entrepreneurial gamble pays off, said Mahnaz Eshetu, business-development specialist with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Washington State University.

"A business plan is a road map," said Eshetu. "If you want to go somewhere, don't you get the address?"

Working with a coach or an adviser helps when preparing a business plan. Resources abound for writing plans, from the Internet to community-college classes to small-business assistance centers such as Eshetu's. For instance, the SBDC offers a 12-week program that incorporates basic business skills and coaches people through writing a business plan.

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