In this guide you'll find some of our most-used resources for creating a business plan. For most business plans, you need to locate information about the industry, competitors, and customers.
Keep in mind that gathering information about an industry can be very different each time you do it. Sometimes, you may be researching a large industry, with many companies who are publicly-owned, like the auto, airline, and retail industry. In this case, you'll probably find a lot of information that you'll need to sift through. Other times, when researching small industries with just a few companies or companies that are mostly privately-owned (such as the wooden toy industry or bagged ice industry) you may need to try all of these sources to put together a picture of what's going on in the industry and how it operates.
Business Plans Handbook (MCOB Reference HD62.7.B865 v, 1-28) is an excellent resource to review actual sample plans for just about any business one would be interested. Check the index in the back of the last volume to find out the volume for a specific business plan.
The most recent volumes of this series are available electronically here: Business Plans Handbook
The Small Business Administration website at https://www.sba.gov/writing-business-plan also gives a good example of what information to include in a business plan.
I usually recommend when doing industry research that you start by finding out what classification number the U.S. Government has assigned to that industry. They collect a lot of data about industries and make it available for free to everyone.