The economy is improving. Consumer confidence, although still volatile, has returned to pre-recession levels and business confidence has rebounded to near-record highs. A majority of small business owners anticipate revenue and profit increases in 2015. So, why isn’t small business access to credit improving accordingly?

In that piece last year, I expressed concern about the “choke point” in small business financing. I’m still concerned. The 2014 Year-end Economic Report of the National Small Business Association cites an uptick in small business owners’ overall positivity about the economy, but also notes that “nearly one in five small firms cannot meet increased sales demand due to inability to garner financing.” Perhaps the most appalling statistic I’ve seen recently is that 50 percent of small businesses ($250,000 to $1 million) received none of the financing they had applied for in the first half of 2014.

The relationship between credit and growth is particularly significant for small businesses. The NSBA survey reveals that 47 percent of the businesses denied credit were forced to delay business expansion. Twenty percent of small business owners relied on credit cards and business earnings to finance their credit needs. Other businesses delayed hiring.

It confounds me that in a year of record lending by the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs still struggle to get the financing they need even when all indicators point to the opportunity for growth. In a positive move, the SBA recently launched the LINC program, an online matchmaking service that helps connect creditworthy small business borrowers with interested lenders. You start by filling out a simple online form to answer 20 questions. Your completed form is sent out to LINC’s network of local, statewide and national lenders, and potentially puts you on a fast track to consideration and approval.

But if you are denied traditional bank financing, don’t give up! Follow the lead of many of your fellow entrepreneurs, who are finding funds through well-established financing alternatives. Read more