Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at September 21st, 2017
Your business credit worthiness is a lender calculation. It determines the possibility a borrower might default on debt obligations. It considers several different factors – here are five critical ones.
Late payments are going to affect your business credit score for a good seven years. If you change and improve your payment history, it has a definite impact. So pay your business (and personal) debts off, as quickly as possible and as completely as possible. You can make a very real difference when it comes to your credit scores.
Always make sure to pay on time and you will reap the rewards of punctuality. There is nothing else which will affect your business credit worthiness more than this.
Because your business credit score is a kind of shorthand look into your business’s solvency, banks and other lenders take it seriously. Your business credit scores will start off low, because you will have very little in the way of credit history. As a result, lenders will often take a look at your personal credit scores.
Therefore, if your personal credit scores are good, a lender will be more inclined to give your small business favorable terms. If your personal credit scores are not so good, then your small business will not get such favorable lending terms. Or your company might not get a loan at all.
Hence it’s a way to gauge business credit worthiness.
How long has your company has been using business credit? By definition, newer businesses will have short credit histories. If your business’s credit history is short, do not despair. Credit reporting bureaus will also take a look at your personal credit score and your own personal history of payments.
If they determine that your personal credit is good, and in particular if you have a fairly long credit history, then your personal credit can essentially come to the rescue of your corporate. Therefore, you should not have gotten your first credit card last week.
Naturally, the opposite is also true – if your personal credit history is not so hot, then it will negatively affect your corporate credit scores. And it will do so until your business and personal credit can be separated.
As a result, it can affect your business credit worthiness.
Building on the last point, consider your own personal credit history and behavior. If you are having a bad business year, it could conceivably end up on your personal credit score. Hence if your business has not been around for too terribly long, this will directly affect your corporate credit and, in turn, your business credit worthiness.
However, there are some things you can do. You can take steps to unlink the two by working to separate them. For example, if you get credit cards only for your small business, or you open up business checking accounts and other bank accounts (or even get an unsecured business loan), then the credit reporting bureaus will begin to treat your personal and corporate credit as separate matters.
Also, you can pay your company’s bills with your company credit card or business checking account. Plus, make sure it’s the business’s name on the bill and not your own.
If you operate a company as a sole proprietor, make sure to incorporate. Or at the very least be sure to file for a DBA. This is ‘doing business as’ status.
If you do not, then your personal name is the same as the company name. Hence, you can end up being personally responsible for all small business debts.
But never look at a DBA filing as being anything beyond a steppingstone to incorporating.
A personal credit utilization rate just means the amount of money you have on credit as divided by total available credit. Lenders generally do not want to see this go above 30%. Therefore, for each $100 in credit, do not borrow on more than $30 of that. If this percentage is going up, then you will need to spend down and pay off your debts before trying to borrow more.
This will directly affect your business credit worthiness, particularly with Experian.
Small business credit is credit in a company’s name. It doesn’t attach to an owner’s personal credit, not even when the owner is a sole proprietor and the sole employee of the company.
Accordingly, a business owner’s business and consumer credit scores can be very different.
Since company credit is independent from consumer, it helps to secure a business owner’s personal assets, in the event of a lawsuit or business bankruptcy.
Also, with two separate credit scores, a business owner can get two separate cards from the same vendor. This effectively doubles purchasing power.
Another advantage is that even start-ups can do this. Heading to a bank for a business loan can be a recipe for disappointment. But building small business credit, when done the right way, is a plan for success.
Personal credit scores depend on payments but also additional components like credit usage percentages.
But for business credit, the scores actually only depend on if a company pays its invoices in a timely manner.
Building business credit is a process. It does not happen without effort. A business has to proactively work to establish business credit.
Still, it can be done easily and quickly, and it is much quicker than developing consumer credit scores.
Vendors are a big part of this process.
Undertaking the steps out of order results in repetitive rejections. Nobody can start at the top with business credit.
A company must be fundable to lending institutions and merchants.
As a result, a small business needs a professional-looking website and email address. And it needs to have site hosting bought from a supplier such as GoDaddy.
In addition, business phone and fax numbers need to have a listing on 411. You can do that here: https://www.listyourself.net.
Additionally, the business telephone number should be toll-free (800 exchange or the like).
A business also needs a bank account dedicated solely to it, and it has to have all of the licenses necessary for running.
First you should build trade lines that report. This is also referred to as vendor credit. Then you’ll have an established credit profile, and you’ll get a business credit score.
And with an established business credit profile and score you can begin to get more credit.
These types of accounts tend to be for the things bought all the time, like marketing materials, ink and toner, and office furniture.
But first off, what is trade credit? These trade lines are credit issuers who give you starter credit when you have none now. Terms are generally Net 30, rather than revolving.
Therefore, if you get approval for $1,000 in vendor credit and use all of it, you need to pay that money back in a set term, such as within 30 days on a Net 30 account.
Net 30 accounts have to be paid in full within 30 days. 60 accounts have to be paid completely within 60 days. In contrast to with revolving accounts, you have a set time when you must pay back what you borrowed or the credit you used.
To launch your business credit profile properly, you should get approval for vendor accounts that report to the business credit reporting agencies. Once that’s done, you can then use the credit.
Then repay what you used, and the account is on report to Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, or Equifax.
Not every vendor can help in the same way true starter credit can. These are vendors that grant an approval with marginal effort. You also want them to be reporting to one or more of the big three CRAs: Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian.
You want 3 of these to move onto the next step. Here are some stellar choices from us: https://www.creditsuite.com/blog/5-vendor-accounts-that-build-your-business-credit/
Non-reporting trade accounts can also be helpful. While you do want trade accounts to report to at least one of the CRAs, a trade account which does not report can yet be of some value.
You can always ask non-reporting accounts for trade references. Additionally credit accounts of any sort ought to help you to better even out business expenses, thus making budgeting easier. These are companies like PayPal Credit, T-Mobile, and Best Buy.
Know what is happening with your credit. Make certain it is being reported and fix any mistakes ASAP. Get in the practice of checking credit reports. Dig into the details, and not just the scores.
Update the data if there are inaccuracies or the relevant information is incomplete. This is yet another way to increase your business credit worthiness.
So, what’s all this monitoring for? It’s to contest any inaccuracies in your records. Errors in your credit report(s) can be taken care of. But the CRAs often want you to dispute in a particular way.
Get your company’s PAYDEX report at: www.dnb.com/about-us/our-data.html. Get your company’s Experian report at: www.businesscreditfacts.com/pdp.aspx?pg=SearchForm. And get your Equifax business credit report at: www.equifax.com/business/credit-information.
Disputing credit report inaccuracies normally means you precisely detail any charges you dispute.
Always use credit sensibly! Don’t borrow more than what you can pay back. Keep track of balances and deadlines for repayments. Paying on time and completely does more to raise business credit scores than virtually anything else.
Growing company credit pays off. Great business credit scores help a small business get loans. Your credit issuer knows the business can pay its debts. They recognize the business is authentic.
The business’s EIN connects to high scores and lenders often won’t feel the need to demand a personal guarantee.
Business credit is an asset which can help your business for years to come. We can help you get started toward improving your business credit worthiness.