Most people starting a new business will need to develop a formal business plan in order to access finance. But actually it is a very good discipline in itself to have an up to date business plan, whether you are starting a business, or have been trading a while. If you use a good template it will force you to go through the whole rationale for your business, look at every aspect of it, and examine or re-examine it in terms of likely profitability -which for most people is the objective. Once you have a plan, it is relatively simple, and a good discipline, to review each year and check you are still on track. Your management team can review short, medium and long term objectives. You will also be asked to submit a business plan regularly if you have successfully accessed funding from a bank or investors. When banks and other financial institutions are considering a loan application, they will be looking for businesses that have good cash flow management, a strong balance sheet, a sound business plan, a well-balanced management team, a good business record, and who are looking to develop and grow. A business plan is a key first step. Also if you make an application for a grant or any other State Aid, they will inevitably ask to see your business plan. It is always easier to update an existing plan that to start from scratch. As always there are several different formats, none of which is right or wrong. A good small business plan defines exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it. As a minimum your small business plan should clearly state: What your business will do The products or services it will provide How customers will access your products or services ( e.g. online, by phone, in a high street shop) Your approach to pricing You may also consider including the mission and objectives of a business, development plan, market strategies, competitive analysis, operations and management structure, employee need and financial details. Many banks will have a template you can use, and there are free templates available on the Internet. The format I like to use is to have a cover page listing contents, like this example. These are the sections I like to use, you can use what suits you best.