Under the cloud of a struggling real estate market, many Hesperia business owners are feeling a sense of uncertainty.

"A lot of our businesses are saying times are tough," said Yvonne Woytovich, executive director of the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce.

To help its members survive difficult days, the Chamber has begun a series of seminars designed to give its businesses a leg up on the competition.

"One of our very important functions is to support our members and provide education and training to help them improve," she said. "It's another benefit of being a chamber member."

Last Tuesday, Louisa Miller, a former marketing director for the Mall of Victor Valley, presented the first event, a seminar on developing a business plan. The workshop at the Hesperia Branch Library's Community Room covered a wide range of material.

According to a resource packet provided by the SBDC, a well-composed business plan should contain several key points. The document should outline major objectives, product services, marketing strategy, management strengths and financial projections.

The plan should include an organization plan that lists key managers, duties and responsibilities, qualifications and experience, and outside resources such as the business's attorney and accountant.

A sample balance sheet was provided so business owners could get a visual sense of their assets, equipment and liabilities. A worksheet helped business owners develop various aspects of their plan categories.

Despite the information, Miller warned that while arming oneself with a business plan will certainly help, it can't replace drive.

"Owning your own business is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week commitment," said Miller, a business consultant with the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center. "You need passion."

For more information, call the SBDC at 951-1592 or the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce at 244-2135.