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.
I say that because of course you need to be careful with commercially sensitive ideas, as you do not want to pass your plan on to someone in the pub who then starts your idea before you across the road.
Whether it is travel, study, cooking or any other activity involving a process, planning is usually the first step. The same holds true for business. Business plans are probably more important than the business itself. For example, the plan for a house is more important than the house itself, though it is the house that people remember and not the plan. But the house wouldn't stand without the plan, would it?.
Obtain Feedback On Your Plan : When writing a business plan you sometimes end up locking yourself away. You might have unique ideas which lead you to seek some isolation and secrecy, or if you are going to be a sole trader you may only have one person to consult namely yourself. But it is fantastic to try and get broader input on your business plan - whether from a professional, or simply from friends and family whom you trust.