New York: I am dying to start my own business. I have the idea and concept and could probably get the funds, but where do I begin? Are there any resources I can turn to?

To turn that idea into profit, you need a written business plan. There are plenty of books and Web sites that could explain the basics and give you a template to follow. Also, many community colleges and local economic development offices offer free or low-cost classes for entrepreneurs.

Washington: I need advice on requesting a reduced work schedule. Can you suggest any strategies to help me get what I want and still look like a team player? My office has been seriously understaffed for more than two years, so I am afraid they'll say no. But I'm hoping my request will spur them to actually do the hiring they need to do. Any thoughts?

A written plan could also help you. In it, you must spell out what duties you would continue to fulfill, as well as who could cover the gaps. If your new schedule would take you under 40 hours a week, you also need to consider the possibility of a proportionate salary cut.