Make it enthusiastic, professional, complete, and concise. If you are applying for a loan, state clearly how much you need and be precise in how you are going to use it. Also include detail about how the money will make your business more profitable, thereby ensuring repayment of the loan.
The financial statements section should show the way things are now if you have an existing business, as well as a forward look at your checking account, or projected income statement. The only way a start_up company can provide an income statement and balance sheet is by projecting these figures based upon well defined assumptions. Both start_ups and existing businesses should include a statement of owner's equity.
When you sit down to compile all of the elements of your business plan, make sure you have each section able to stand on its own merits. This means you should not reference other sections sending the reader (your potential investor) back and forth between sections.
Right now, growth may sound like an unattainable goal as businesses are grappling just to survive, but hey, "flat is the new up." If a business can keep its doors open and lights on, then it's doing better than many others. But lights and open doors don't make sales, so making changes that attract business is in a sense, striving for growth. It won't be this tough forever, but for now, putting some growth strategies into action may be what keeps your business alive, if not thriving.