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Set In Stone The best-laid business plans...

By Natasha Emmons

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You wouldn't set out on a journey without a map, right? Sowhy would you start a business without a plan? "A businessplan provides a road map for a company and its executives tofollow," says Bill Crookston, an associate professor for theEntrepreneur Program at the University of Southern California inLos Angeles.

A business plan isn't just for your own peace of mind,however; investors will demand it when you search for funding. Yourstart-up plan should focus on marketing and financial informationand must portray a route your company intends to follow--financierscould withdraw credit if you don't meet your goals, Crookstonsays. And forget about hiring an expert to do it for you; eachentrepreneur should create his or her own plan, he stresses.

With that in mind, the following three points should beaddressed when drawing up your plan:

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