If you’re looking for funds, you will need a business plan. Forbes magazine gives some initial guidelines and list of further reading to get you up and running including a refreshing style from American Dave Lavinsky.

Lavinsky’s top priorities are to make sure you include a single one line description of your business, your financial model, the key milestones you need to achieve to reduce your business risks and a summary of why you are uniquely qualified to succeed.

If you are struggling with your business model take a look at the Business Model Canvas which again is a refreshing look at an age old problem.

In any business plan you need to include your product/service, your financials and your resource plan/team. The presentation needs to be short and clear with an exciting look and feel. It must be realistic, investors want to see how and when they will make an adequate return and lenders will want to see their risks covered. However, the plan needs to grab the attention from the start, so the introduction and a succinct executive summary are critical.

Securing the funding deal will take longer than you think, especially to close out the legal documents. Expect to have last minute glitches and be clear in your thinking upfront. Try to persuade all parties to agree to fixed priced terms; some lawyers offering these now, even for VC funding.

Remember – Happiness is a positive cash flow, so if you can’t demonstrate how this will be achieved, don’t expect many takers. Funders want to see a business and a cash return, not a hobby.

Finally, tax breaks such as EIS can also make the plan more attractive and don’t ignore new peer to peer funding sources. These are available for equity, debt, asset based lending and even donations.