New and exciting forms of financing for Europe's SMEs are more abundant than ever, but a lack of awareness and user-friendly platforms are hampering their uptake, warn experts.

By Farah Khalique

The joys of running your own business are being your own boss and having the final say. But when business owners have to explore non-bank financing options to grow their company - sometimes in return for an equity stake - this is where is gets problematic.

Financing experts shared their thoughts at a recent workshop on SME funding, organised by The Association for Financial Markets (Afme) in Europe.

The myriad of financing options means many SMEs simply don't have the time to explore the alternatives.

"The idea of giving up equity and control is not appealing, it goes against the reason for being a business. [There is] very little understanding about non-bank financing," said Tony Baron, chairman for tax and economic affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses.

SMEs need more portals and tools with information on financing, suggested Maurice Crowley, chair of the Business Finance Committee at the European Banking Federation.

But running a business is not a 9-to-5 occupation - it's a 24/7 commitment that leaves businesses owners strapped for time. The myriad of financing options means many SMEs simply don't have the time to explore the alternatives.

Busy SMEs can turn to their trusted accountant for help. David Petrie is head of the corporate finance faculty at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

"Businesses [talk to their accountant] when thinking of where to go for additional funding. We try to assist our members and small businesses to understand the variety of sources of funding available."

Ultimately, we need more competition to banking, said Allen Simpson, head of public policy for corporate banking at Barclays.

"What we need is less competition within banking...and more competition to banking from other sources - better sources of advice and also sources of finance."

Find her on Twitter at @farahkhalique