Sometimes it takes a significant event or change in existing conditions for a business to create a written plan. I think it's safe to say that the state of the economy is a significant change that should prompt business owners to alter the way they've been doing things. If you already have a business plan, it's time to get it out and revise it.
A recession is the optimal time to reinvent competitive advantage because the pressure of a feeble economy will separate the strong businesses from the weak ones, with the weak falling out of the game entirely. Your business will be strong if you have a plan of action based upon a little industry research, an analysis of what you have and what you want, and continuous monitoring of the results of your plan. This kind of innovation is not only a necessity right now, but it is an opportunity to improve the quality and efficiency in the way you do business.
So, although a detailed business plan may not be required for an online business, I am going to include it here so you can at least look at and consider each section and determine yourself if it applies to your business.
When submitting my concepts to invention hunts, licensing agents, manufacturers, retailers, engineers, and the patent office, I was asked many different kinds of questions. The questions ranged from "What problem does it solve?" to questions that required extensive research such as "Who is your target market?"