What is a business plan? A business plan sets out the method for running a specific activity over a specific future period. Why are business plans needed? Business plans are needed essentially for the four following reasons: 1. A formal, explicit document of the planning process; 2. A request for finances; 3. A framework for approval; 4. A tool for operational business management.
I teach that you should seek to learn from competitors; obviously never copy another business's idea or what they are doing, but you can absolutely learn from their mistakes or see what they are doing and discover ways to improve it. All of that analysis belongs in your business plan: make sure you have your competitors under the microscope and make sure that is a solid chunk of your plan. That is some of the best research and information you will gather about what will make your business successful in future.