Writing a business plan will force you to consider the what-ifs (what if you get sick, need a trademark, need worker's comp insurance) and the tiny costs that you might overlook: "Like the cost of a cup of coffee—the cup, the java jacket, the lid, the napkin, the stirrer, the sugar," says Liat Cohen, co-owner of Cocoa Bar in Brooklyn. "A business plan forced me to figure out exactly what I would have to charge to make money."
Get professional help: Two groups operating under the umbrella of the Small Business Administration can provide guidance. The Women's Business Center program (SBA.gov/womeninbusiness) provides training and counseling, usually at very low fees (or free). For example, the Central Alabama Women's Business Center offers a course, Writing Your Business Plan: Your Business Roadmap, for $15.
SCORE (SCORE.org) is a network of working and retired executives who freely share their expertise. They try to match their members' specialties with the needs of a new entrepreneur—like pairing an artist who wanted to open her own gallery with a finance executive. If you can't get to a SCORE chapter, one of their members will work with you via e-mail.
Review the plan: "A few months down the road, compare what actually happened to what you projected," says Pinson. Use this time to modify your forecasts and tweak your strategy.
Banish the thought of overcooked, mushy string beans: In this smart recipe, Melia Marden cooks the beans in a small amount of water until they're just tender but still bright green. Then, she removes them, dries the pan and flash-fries the vegetables in olive oil until they're slightly charred all over. The finishing touch: garnishes of fried shallots, chopped basil and crumbled pecorino cheese.
Our December issue features Oprah's Favorite Things—as well as your chance to win them all! You'll also find our easy holiday declutter plan, Dr. Oz's guide to sleeping better (starting tonight) and the ultimate holiday menu.