It is no secret that the economic landscape has made it difficult for businesses to secure investment. Banks are reluctant to loan money and as a result many companies are struggling to find the funds necessary for growth. There are, however, certain guidelines which will help businesses obtain capital from financial institutions.Realism Trumps OptimismTo secure funding from a bank it is necessary to demonstrate a sound business plan and solid figures. However, in this climate it is increasingly important to keep any financial predications as realistic as possible, especially during the initial six to eight weeks when credit worthiness is under review.Financial institutions have a rigorous procedure for assessing potential investments. After all checks have been carried out, banks will enquire as to the performance of the business during the review period. If the results are not in line with the predictions made, it is unlikely that the loan will be approved.Businesses should provide a realistic outlook, in terms of financial performance, if they are to be granted a loan. In these circumstances it is far better to underestimate than overestimate profits. Banks expect most businesses to pick up slowly and fairly continuously, there is no need to promise the undeliverable. As the months pass, it becomes possible to let some optimism creep into the businesses’ financial outlook.Balance Sheets and TrustTwo other key, but often overlooked points, are going to the right bank and managing the balance sheet. The right bank is usually the one with which the business or individual has a relationship. Long-standing customers with a good track record are far more likely to be entrusted with investment. Secondly, the company balance sheet needs to be positive. If it is not then it is essential to restructure it appropriately.Financial institutions currently have to navigate very rough economic seas. Any business looking to secure capital from them needs to ensure it presents a sound and reasonable business plan which delivers what it promises.