The business plan serves several purposes: Enables the entrepreneur to think through the business in a logical and structured way and to set out the stage in the achievement of the business objectives ; Enables the entrepreneur to plot progress against the plan ; Ensures that the resources needed to carry out the strategy and the times when they are required are both identified ; Preparing the business plan ensures that the entrepreneur has thought through the crucial aspects of the venture ; It is a means for making all employees aware of the business direction ; It is an important document for discussion with prospective investors and lenders of finance ; It links into the derailed, short-term, one-year budget.
Most of all if you are seeking funding for your business, it will be absolutely crucial to go along and show someone an actual plan, because there will be very few people who will loan you money on the basis of what's just in your head. So it's pivotal to have a plan and be committed to preparing that document.
Research Your Competitors (But Don't Copy!) Every business plan should focus a lot on the business's potential competitors, because research and analysis of the competition effectively gives you plenty of useful information. It may guide you as to where you should be advertising and marketing, or certain strategies to use or ones to avoid because you see they have been used unsuccessfully by others.
It could be, for example, the risk of a change in the economic environment - what are your contingency plans for that in terms of dealing with such a situation? There may be many other risks as well specific to your particular sphere of operation, but that ability to plan ahead for all scenarios makes for a robust business plan.