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How to Increase Business Credit: 5 Simple Steps Every Entrepreneur Can Take

Published By Faith Stewart at October 24th, 2019

And How to Get Business Credit if You Don’t Already Have It

Business credit is a vital part of your life as an entrepreneur, even if you do not know it. The fact is, it is almost impossible to run a successful business without it.  Unfortunately, many business owners do not realize this until after their business credit is in shambles.  If this is you, then you need to know how to increase business credit.

While it isn’t easy, it also isn’t impossible to improve your business credit score.  Of course, the most obvious thing to do is to pay your bills on time.  That is most definitely part of it.  There are other steps you can take to raise your business credit score as well, however.

What is Business Credit?

Before you can really understand how to increase business credit, you have to understand what it is in the first place.  It is similar to personal credit.  However, it is credit in the name of your business rather than the name of the individual.  It is used as a predictor of the ability of the business to handle debt.

The beauty of this is, if you have business credit, your business transactions will not affect your personal credit.  Your personal credit score can be protected from any mishaps with your business.  It is important to know, however, that the reverse is not always true.  In some cases, your personal credit can affect your business credit.  Some business credit reporting agencies (CRAs) use information from your personal credit report to calculate your business credit score.

how to increase business credit Credit Suite3 - How to Increase Business Credit: 5 Simple Steps Every Entrepreneur Can Take

Share our foolproof business credit building checklist and tell your friends about how you’re building business credit the quick and easy way.

In addition, some lenders will check both your personal and your business credit.  This means that, while business credit is essential to running a business successfully, you shouldn’t ignore your personal credit score.  It is important to both your personal and business finances.

How Do You Get Business Credit?

Growing company credit is a process. It does not occur without effort. A company must actively work to establish small business credit. This is in direct contrast to how personal credit builds, often without your knowledge that it is even happening. You do have to work the steps of the process in order however.  If you do not already have business credit, here is how to start.

A small business must exist as its own entity separate from its owner, and it must be fundable to lending institutions and merchants. This means formally incorporating as a corporation, S-corp, or LLC.  It also means getting and EIN, which is like an SSN, but for your business.  They are free on the IRS website.

Then, you need to ensure your business has its own, dedicated email address, fax number, and telephone number.  Get a listing on 411 by going to http://listyourself.net.  List the business contact information with the business name. The phone number should be toll free.

As for the email address, it can’t be from a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail.  It needs to have the same URL as the company website.  Yes, your business needs a professional, well put together website.  Don’t use a free hosting service for this.  Use a paid service like GoDaddy.

A small business also needs a bank account devoted purely to it.  All business transactions should run through the business account.

You will also have to get a D-U-N-S number.  It’s free.  Start here.

How Do You Get Credit Without Credit?

Here’s the thing.  We all know not having credit is virtually the same to lenders as having bad credit. When it comes to business credit, there is a secret to get accounts reporting on your business credit file.  This secret is the vendor credit tier.  These are beginner trade lines that will extend invoices with net terms without even checking your credit.  Then they will report your payments on these invoices to the business credit reporting agencies.

In this way, your business credit score can start to build like a snowball.  As it grows, you will become eligible for credit from more and more companies.

You want 5 to 8 of these to move onto the next step, which is the retail credit tier. Who are these vendors?  How do you find them?  Here are a few of the easiest to get started with.

Uline

Uline is a true starter vendor that offers shipping, packing, and industrial supplies.  They report to D&B.

You have to have a D-U-N-S number, and they request 2 references and a bank reference. The initial few orders may need to be prepaid before you can get approval for Net 30 terms.

Quill

Quill is another option that is easy to get started with. They sell office, packaging, and cleaning supplies and report to D&B and Experian.

Because Quill reports to two separate credit reporting bureaus, you get two credit experiences with them. Place an initial order first unless the D&B score is already established.

Ordinarily they put you on a 90-day prepayment schedule. If you order items monthly for 3 months, they normally approve you for a Net 30 Account.

Grainger Industrial Supply

Grainger Industrial Supply sells safety equipment, plumbing supplies, and more.  They report to D&B. You need a business license, EIN, and a D-U-N-S number to get a net account with them.

For less than a $1000 credit limit they approve nearly anyone with a business license.

Retail Credit Tier

Once there are 8 or more accounts from the vendor credit tier reporting to at least one of the CRAs, the next step is to apply for credit from the retail credit tier. These are companies such as Office Depot and Staples.

Fleet Credit Tier

The fleet credit tier is next.  These are businesses like BP and Conoco. Use this credit to buy fuel, and to fix and maintain vehicles.

Cash Credit Tier

The final tier is the cash credit tier. These are companies such as Visa and MasterCard that are not attached to a specific store.

how to increase business credit Credit Suite3 - How to Increase Business Credit: 5 Simple Steps Every Entrepreneur Can Take

Share our foolproof business credit building checklist and tell your friends about how you’re building business credit the quick and easy way.

How to Increase Business Credit if You Already Have it

What if you already have a business credit score and it’s not good?  It’s easier to increase something when there is no negative information counteracting the positive.  What if you already have negative information on your business credit report.  Here is how to increase business credit in that case.

5 Steps for How to Increase Business Credit

1.      Add tradelines

Here is how you do that. You can use the starter vendors mentioned above, but if you already have established business credit, that isn’t the only way.  You can also ask the vendors you already have a relationship with about starting a credit relationship.  Ask if they will extend you credit based on the merits of the relationship you already have, and ask if they will report the payments.  Even if you only get one or two to do it, your credit score will only increase with the positive payment history being recorded.

2.      Ask to delete paid off collections.

Did you know that if you have an account that goes to collections, it will stay on your credit report even after you pay it off?  That’s right.  The negative hit stays on your report even if you pay off the account in full.  You can ask to have it removed however.  Be sure to do that.

3.      Ensure all information is correct and up to date.

Take the initiative to notify credit agencies of changes in address, phone number, email addresses, etc.  In addition, monitor your business credit reports so you can dispute any mistakes.

Update the details if there are errors or the information is incomplete. At D&B, you can do this at: https://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/viewiUpdateHome.htm. For Experian, go here: www.experian.com/small-business/business-credit-information.jsp. So for Equifax, go here: www.equifax.com/business/small-business.

4.      Ask for an increase to your credit limit.

Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of debt you have in relation to the amount of credit you have available to you. If you are using a ton of your available credit, your ratio will be high.  The reverse is also true. When people ask themselves how to increase business credit, they often do not realize this.  Once they do see it, the next step is usually to add accounts in an effort to increase the amount of credit available.

However, this isn’t always the best option because the average age of all reporting accounts affects your credit score as well.  If you are adding new accounts, that average age decreases, which negatively affects your account.

Another option, which works much better, is to ask your current accounts to raise your credit limit.  This way, you have more available credit, decrease your credit utilization ratio, and leave your average age of accounts unaffected.

5.      Make payments on time!

Duh, right?  It’s true though.  The number one way to answer the question of how to increase business credit is to make consistent, on-time payments.  Here’s a bonus tip too.  If you find that you need to stop carrying so many balances and have the means to pay a little extra on minimums, pick the balance with the highest interest rate and put all of your extra onto that balance.  Once it is paid off, take the total payment amount and pay that amount extra on the balance with the next highest interest rate.  As you see your balances getting paid down, you will see your business credit score increase. You’ll save money on interest also, since you are paying off the highest interest rate balances first.

Watch It Rise

While you are putting all these tips for how to increase business credit into action, pay attention to what your credit score is doing.  If you are not seeing an increase, however gradual it may be, you need to figure out what it going on.

How do you do this?  Each of the main business credit reporting agencies offer the option to purchase your credit reports. It’s not cheap.

At D&B you can monitor at: www.dandb.com/credit-builder. At Experian, you can monitor your account at: www.smartbusinessreports.com/Landing/1217/. And at Equifax, you can monitor your account at: www.equifax.com/business/business-credit-monitor-small-business. Experian and Equifax cost about $19.99; D&B ranges from $49.99 to $99.99.

We can help you monitor business credit at Experian and D&B for 90% less than it would cost you at the CRAs. See: www.creditsuite.com/monitoring.

What If You Find a Mistake?

Mistakes in your credit report(s) can be taken care of, but the CRAs usually want you to dispute in a particular way.

Disputing credit report errors normally means you mail a paper letter along with duplicates of any proofs of payment. These are documents like receipts and cancelled checks. Never send the originals.

Fixing credit report inaccuracies also means you precisely spell out any charges you contest. Make your dispute letter as understandable as possible. Be specific about the problems with your report. Use certified mail to have proof that you sent in your dispute.

how to increase business credit Credit Suite3 - How to Increase Business Credit: 5 Simple Steps Every Entrepreneur Can Take

Share our foolproof business credit building checklist and tell your friends about how you’re building business credit the quick and easy way.

Dispute your or your company’s Equifax report by following the directions here: www.equifax.com/small-business-faqs/#Dispute-FAQs.

You can dispute mistakes on your or your company’s Experian report by following the directions here: www.experian.com/small-business/business-credit-information.jsp.

And D&B’s PAYDEX Customer Service telephone number is here: www.dandb.com/glossary/paydex.

Now you Know How to Increase Business Credit

If you don’t have a business credit score at all, you will have to start from scratch.  Establish your business as separate from yourself.  Start building a score with the trade account from the vendor credit tier, then watch your score rise as you work through the rest of the credit tiers.

If you have business credit already, but it’s not great, you can still increase it.  Make sure all your information is updated.  Work on your credit utilization ratio by asking current accounts to increase limits. Establish trade lines with those vendors you are already working with, and ask the reporting agencies to remove collections that have been paid off.

More than any of that however, make your payments on-time and consistently.  If you need to take a breath, regroup, and rebudget, do it.  Not paying your bills is the number one way to ruin your credit.  Conversely, making consistent, on-time payments is the number one way to increase your score.

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