The guide, available now to download for free, combines the forum’s existing credit control guide, which has advice on managing bad debt, negotiating better payment terms and invoice templates, with a guide created by finance experts that explains what can be done to improve a business’ credit rating and how to present to a lender to secure a loan.

Of the FPB’s circa-18,500 members a few hundred are currently print companies and the Forum’s Robert Downes said it had identified the sector as one of the worst affected by late payments and cash flow problems.

As such he said the guide was being targeted at printers first and if its reception was a success the FPB would look at other sectors that could particularly benefit.

He added: “We recognise that the print industry is under pressure and that it is one of the most impacted by late or slow payments.

“We’re fairly sure our guide can help some printers bring these payment times down a bit and give them a good steer for future contracts.”

Forum member Steve Swinyard, who until last year ran Stockport print firm JS Dutton with his son, backed the new guide and said that late payers and bad debts had almost crippled his firm.

“Printers are always going to have problems with people that can’t pay and people that won’t pay. You can work with the ones that can’t, which is where this kind of advice comes in handy and is something that we could do with more of.

“On the other hand if people just won’t pay I somethimes think it is more effective to do it the old fashioned way and pay them a visit. Small printers simply don’t have the time to be chasing paperwork and going through court after court. That’s what can close people down. The right advice in the first place could help avoid all that altogether though,” he added.

According to Downes improving credit rating was another key factor for SMEs to address in order to improve their chances of being accepted for business loans.

“All the banks look at credit scores before making a decision on credit, from overdraft to full blown loan, and if they get a whiff of a risk they won’t like it,” he added.

He explained that a major cause of rejected loan applications was that too many business owners were unprepared and did not carry out enough research often due to lack of resources or not knowing where to look.

He added: “We know that there are already a lot of guides out there that will give you the official information you need when it comes to applying for finance. But many of them do little more than send you off in different directions to gather the knowledge you need. Our guide has it all in one place.”