Strategic Planning & Goals: The first step is to identify the key company goals which will be the over_arching direction of the plan. These goals should be focused on three areas: financial, growth initiatives and alignment to the company's vision/mission. This provides the overall direction of the company by establishing high_level goals that will be achieved by tactical initiatives. The overall plan should be 1 to 3 years with measurement mileposts monthly, quarterly and annually. While the plan is put in place at the onset of the year, it should be constantly re_forecast with actual results throughout the year.
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.