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Why You Should Improve Your Business Credit Score

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article | Entrepreneurship | Why You Should Improve Your Business Credit ScoreWhen did you last check your business credit score? Most business owners know that a personal credit score is important but many have never given their business score a thought. According to Experian, 59% of small business owners have never checked their commercial credit score. And of those that had, 56% had not checked their score within the past six months. Why? Most people do not know what a credit score is or how it works. And with so many ways to improve your credit score (check out this article by Business Credit Workshop to see one way) it’s worth knowing about.

But why is your business credit score important? Read on to find out what your business credit score can mean for your business and why you should improve it.

If your business, like many others, relies or may become reliant on loans or credit cards to grow or maintain cash flow, a good credit score is essential. Your credit score gives potential lenders an idea of your reliability using past loans/credit, they look at how you have been with previous repayments and how probable it is that you might pay late or if at all.

Using this data credit referencing agencies then generate your score using a number (usually between 0 and 999 but this can vary) which generally falls under different parameters of Poor, Fair and Good. Instead of flat out rejecting your application for credit, Lenders can also set rates and terms based on this information, in these circumstances this will done to mitigate risk factors such as late repayment, however, this is not always ideal as these rates (interest) are most likely to be higher. For this reason, maintaining a good credit score will increase your chances of gaining credit in the future with better rates. But that isn’t the only reason to make sure your business credit score is in good shape. If your business garners work through tenders, a good credit score can give you an edge over competitors.

There are many things that can affect your credit score from previous late repayments to having no credit lines at all. But whatever your rating you need to know how to maintain and improve your score, nothing can boost your score overnight but getting started:

  1. First thing’s first, if you haven’t already, check your business credit score. There are plenty of services that you can sign up to that will give you an overview of your credit score.
  2. Keep up to date! Depending on the credit checker you sign up to, you may receive monthly reports straight to your email inbox but it’s worth setting a monthly reminder to check your credit score. Take some time to go through any changes in your score, often finding out the issue means you can take the correct action to improve your score.
  3. Keep your information up to date. You might be surprised to learn that changes in location or business status can affect your reliability if your information is inconsistent. So keep up to date with customers, suppliers and any business registration companies and any credit rating agencies.
  4. Not already sharing information with any credit rating agencies? Your company data is important for validating any information on your records.
  5. If your business is in its early days, it is advised that business owners take a look at their own personal data. When little information is available about start-up businesses, CRA may look to the owner to judge whether they are credit-worthy or not.
  6. Avoid late invoice payments. Because late payment terms set on invoices are a form of credit, late payments will impact your credit score.
  7. Collaborate with your suppliers: Suppliers can provide feedback on payment records and share data with CRAs which support your credit score.
  8. On that note, the financial situation of your customers and suppliers can affect your business, keeping up to date with the circumstances of their credit is important for damage limitation to your business in the event that one of those partners go into administration.
  9. Ensure your accounts and tax returns are updated on time.
  10. Limit credit applications or ask for a quote. Whenever you submit an application for credit, that lender does a search on your credit background, each search is then added to your record. Credit lenders usually check to see how many credit searches has been recorded on your record in a certain period of time. Too many searches may indicate that a business is unable to obtain funding which will deter lenders from making a decision in your favour.

So whether you want to secure funding for your business soon or further down the road, getting your credit score in line is the most important step. Even if you don’t plan on seeking loans for your business, keeping your credit score strong is a good idea; if not to secure tenders and contracts for your company, you never know whether you might need a little bit of help in the future.

8 Steps to Building Your Business Credit

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleOne of the biggest issues facing small and medium businesses is financing. And the ability to secure finance is often directly related to the business’s credit score. But it’s often a challenge for small businesses to establish their credit when they have nothing to show for it. However, there are some things any new small business owner can do to boost their credit and get access to more financing options. Here are the exact steps you should follow to boost your business’s credit score.

Know the Basics

If you want to build your business’s credit, you first have to understand how it works. While consumer credit scores are usually rated on a scale of 300 to 850, business credit scores are usually rated from 0 to 100. A variety of other indicators are also used to calculate business credit scores, like Fico’s rating service for small businesses (SBSS), which rates business credit on a different scale.

You should also know that each of the main credit bureaus for businesses, Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax, all have their own set of criteria when scoring a business’s credit. However, for the most part, they will all look at things like credit obligation data, how much outstanding debt you have with lenders and supplier, your total credit utilization, background info on your company, such as what sector you operate in and how long you’ve been in business, and various other factors.

While having no history can make getting credit more difficult, it’s also the perfect place to start since you have no blemishes on your record yet, which allows you to start building your credit on solid grounds.

In 2019, it becomes very hard to understand the credit score world, if you want to read more about credit score and basics, check out this guide from the experts of Finimpact.

Make Sure That Your Finances are Separated

If your business happens to be incorporated, keeping finances separate will be easy. But if you’re a sole proprietor, you have to make sure that you completely separate your finances and that you keep your personal transactions and business transactions separate at all times. This means opening a bank account and getting a business credit card as well.

When choosing a business credit card, make sure that you pick one with perks that will benefit you in your line of business. For instance, if you spend a lot on wireless phone service, there are business credit cards that will give you bonus cash back on wireless spending. It would also be wise to check reviews of business credit cards Canada so you can compare things like APR and rewards as well.

Keeping your finances separate will ensure that bad personal spending habits and debt do not end up affecting your business credit score and vice versa.

Get a DUNS Number

Dun & Bradstreet is a major credit bureau recognized worldwide and can play a vital role in helping you establish your business’s credit. You can also use your DUNS number to bid on a variety of government contracts.

Once you get your DUNS number, they will open your business’s credit profile using that number. It will help them track your vendor and lender relationships to get a clearer picture of your business’s financial stability and assess your creditworthiness.

Open Multiple Credit Accounts

Getting a business credit card and bank account is only the first step. Now, you should try opening more credit lines to help you establish your credit. These accounts will allow you to show that you are a trustworthy borrower. But you have to have discipline and use them correctly, however. Making one-time payments will help credit bureaus keep a track record of your financial activity and stability and adjust your score accordingly.

Some examples of accounts you could open include gas cards, store accounts, and lines of credit. Not enough small businesses open a line of credit, but it’s an important step for any business trying to establish their credit.

Choose Vocal Vendors

While you want to flex and use that credit, it’s essential that you spend money with vendors that will actually be reporting your activity to credit bureaus. You have to make sure that you spend your money with vendors who have an actual reporting strategy in place. If you aren’t sure, just ask them. If they don’t have one, then you should consider spending your money somewhere else.

Be Responsible

This should be common sense but make sure that you pay your bills on time is essential if you want to establish a strong credit score. And while paying on time is good, paying early is even better. Some indicators will only give you a perfect score if you consistently pay early, so do everything in your power to pay your bills as soon as possible if you can.

Make Sure You Check Your Reports Often

You’d be surprised at how many people got credit rejected because of false information on their credit reports. Maybe it’s an outstanding bill that they paid but didn’t show. Or an account that was closed that still shows as active. These are all things that could affect your credit negatively and that you must address immediately. All you need to do is request a copy of your credit report and look for any inconsistencies. If you see any, credit bureaus will have a clear and easy to set of procedures you can take to correct errors.

Use Your Credit

Credit utilization is an important factor when credit bureaus assess your credit score. So, it’s important that you actually use your credit and don’t leave your credit lines sitting there without using them. This is why you should start using them as soon as possible, but make sure that you don’t max them out. As a rule of thumb, you should aim for about a 20 to 30 percent utilization rate.

Conclusion

Building your credit as a small business is possible if you take the proper steps and maintain good habits. Make sure that you follow the tips in this article if you want to start building your business credit the right way.