By Claire West

Access to finance for small business owners has become a hot topic and with more entrepreneurs being refused for support experts are urging them to rethink their presentation to the bank.

The recent release of the government's green paper on access to business finance, 'Financing a Private Sector Recovery', has stimulated debate with business owners searching for finance to start up or expand their business. The debates have brought attention to financial experts and are urging entrepreneurs to perfect their presentations in order to gain the support they need.

The government is looking to banks to be more receptive to the demands for support to assist businesses through these challenging times. Small business owners and business associations are stating that banks are not listening and following rigid guidelines produced by a computer.

A recent survey by the Forum of Private Business has confirmed the lack of financial support with it reporting a four fold increase in its members who say they have witnessed a decline in their ability to access finance.

Experts are urging entrepreneurs to realise that with any business transaction, there are always two parties and each has a role to play in reaching agreement. Whilst banks are being asked to re-look at the way they do business, entrepreneurs must also step back and assess whether they can do more to represent themselves.

"During the 'boom' days, access to finance was easy; no one had to fight for it. There are many business owners who have never had to prepare a compelling business case when requesting finance and don't understand that the rules of the game have changed.

In some cases business owners are expecting banks to change but they are not willing to meet the banks half way by improving the information they give to the bank," says Rob Warlow, of Business Loan Services and author of Loan Sharp: Get the Business Finance You Deserve'.

Warlow said: 'Business owners need to understand that banks make decisions based on information. A business owner calling his bank or sending a one page request letter is inviting the bank to say no. I receive many requests for help by owners who have been declined by their bank and upon reviewing the information handed over I can see why they didn't get anywhere'.

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