Credit is important for business success & business image. Few entrepreneurs know about or really understand how business credit is established, how it's tracked and how it affects their lives and their business. Personal credit is different from business credit. You do not have to rely only on your personal credit to build, grow or maintain your business. That's why it's good to maintain good business credit.
You can build, acquire and maintain business credit and personal credit separate from each other. In business without interrupting your cash flow, borrowing can allow you to build your company in good times. In slow times credit can help maintain a company's smooth operation. You need a strong company credit profile to increase your company's borrowing potential.
A good company credit rating begins as soon as you start your company. A good way to start & maintain good company credit is by:
1. DEVELOP A BUSINESS PLAN
If you have a new company or already in business, this is an important first step, it helps you company start in a professional manner. Many business owners never develop a business plan or they wait until it's too late. You should always have a business plan. A business plan is usually required by lenders. If you are past the start-up phase in your business, update your plan regularly to take into account its growth and future needs. If you do not plan to borrow, you need to update your plan regularly throughout each year.
2. SELECT A BUSINESS STRUCTURE
This step is completed along with the business plan. If you plan to borrow & show lenders that you are operating in a professional manner, establish a proper business structure, in addition to facilitating your operation. From a credit standpoint, a corporation or LLC could be beneficial. A partnership or sole proprietorship, personal credit information could have been included on your business credit report.
3. OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT
It is very unprofessional to mix business & personal accounts. Mixing the two could ruin or damage your personal credit if your company has a problem. A business-only bank account is a way to build business credit since banks offer debit, check or credit cards in connection to that account. Most people that you do business with (if you are exciting funds) will look for that and it makes your business look more professional.
4. ESTABLISH BUSINESS CREDIT
Every business needs supplies. If you need to, check with major office supply store chains about setting up an account. Wholesale clubs are another good option to setting up credit accounts. If a credit card was not a part of your bank account, apply for one because you never know when you may need to use it. The main point to these credit options is to manage them wisely.
5. REVIEW YOUR CREDIT PROFILES
Regularly review the information collected by credit reporting agencies on your company. Make sure you business credit profile has up-to-date & accurate information. Dispute & report incorrect information in your credit file. Follow-up to ensure that mistakes or errors were corrected in your credit report.
There are specific business credit reporting agencies. Lenders & vendors kindly on this information to determine if they want to do business with you. Business credit reports are different from personal reports. Personal credit reports are maintained by three different credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion & Equifax. Company creditors voluntarily send information to the agencies.
When you open a new account with a creditor, make sure that they report it and your positive payment history to the business credit bureaus to help build your profile. Business credit profiles include:
- Payment histories
- Information on legal actions involving your company
- Business license and registrations
- Corporate financial reports
- Government contracts or grants
- Media reports
- Data from directory listings
Sometimes business credit bureaus conduct direct investigations, interviews with business executives and the companies that they do business with. The major business credit bureaus are:
DUN & BRADSTREET (also known as D & B)
A household name & a major company in business ratings. You should contact them to get a DUNS NUMBER, you may need it with most places that you may do business with. If you do business with the government it is a requirement to have a DUNS NUMBER. D & B creates a profile based on information provided by business owners with your DUNS NUMBER and their vendors, also they create a rating called a DUNS rating based on the financial statements of a business. They issue a PAYDEX score, it's similar to a FICO score of a personal credit report from Fair Isaac & Company.
Experian tracks business credit just as well as personal credit. For businesses they only use information from vendors. Then they give what's called an Intelliscore number.
Equifax tracks business credit and personal credit. They produce a variety of business scores based on banking & lease payment performance information provided by the Small Business Financial Exchange, INC. Some of the business scores come from the Small Business Financial Account Acquisition Score and the Small Business Financial Account Management Score.
FDIinsight is a part of the Factual Data Corp, a business-to-business information service. They started out as a personal credit reporting agency for mortgage brokers. Their reports contain information provided by the company itself or a third party. The staff of FDIinsight, verifies the information independently.
They were formerly known as Business Credit USA, a subsidiary of INFOUSA. They get information from business owners & verify the data before putting it in the reports. Their ratings are based on a "grade" Scale A% 2B (95 to 100 points) to C (70 to 74 points).
They provided credit about small businesses and only use information provided by vendors. They turn the information into a PAYQUO score which is based on payment histories.
It can take time to build a credit rating for your company, so maintain a good rating. A strong business credit profile will strengthen your company's creditworthiness, and also your professional reputation.