Everyone has prepared a business plan. Well, should that read, everyone should have prepared a business plan? My thinking is that these tend only to be prepared when they are needed, rather than as a useful business tool for all senior management. My top five ingredients are: 1. Understand what a business plan is; 2. Understand what you intend to use it for; 3. Identify and implement the critical steps to achieving a successful business plan; 4. Understand what needs to be included in the plan; 5. Be aware of gaps or weaknesses in your plan.
I often see people split into two camps. On one hand those who almost ignore competitors in their business plan, because they do not want to think about the issue yet and feel so confident they have a great idea for the market regardless. But I recommend not being overconfident when it comes to competitors. They are still there for a reason, they are still around and in business for a reason, so view them with that in mind.