How to Establish Small Business Credit
Small business owners may want to establish and improve business credit scores before they actually need to borrow money. Many business advisors recommend separating business from personal credit, and monitoring the business’s credit scores to ensure accuracy while taking steps to bolster the scores if needed. Consider taking these steps to ensure the business is in the best position to qualify for credit.
Verifiable Contact Information
Running a business using only a cell phone number and operating out of a home office may not give the impression of a stable and thriving business. Consider having a listed local or toll-free landline, commercial address, and visible online presence. The easier it is for lenders to verify how to contact the company, the more comfortable they may be when evaluating creditworthiness.
Business Banking Accounts
Financial advisors typically recommend splitting the business bank accounts from the owner’s personal bank accounts. Lenders may ask to talk with the business banker, and developing a positive business banking track record can be influential when applying for credit.
Separate Business Entity
Setting up the business as a separate entity from the individual who owns the company allows the business to create its own credit and payment history. While a lender may still evaluate an owner’s credit score and history to assess the borrower’s character, the business may still be considered as a separate entity and be judged on its own merits. Businesses that are set up as their own separate entities are also often judged as less risky. Owners may also be less likely to comingle the business and personal accounts when they are treating the business as separate from their personal financial matters.
Dun & Bradstreet Records
Many lenders use the nine-digit D-U-N-S® Number, supplied by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), as a business identifier. They may also pull business credit reports from D&B when evaluating credit applications. Ensuring that the company is set up with D&B, reviewing any credit reports and correcting misinformation before applying for credit, can facilitate a lender’s review in the future.
Prepare to Apply for Credit Before Its Needed
Even though the business does not currently need financing, it can still be important to build a positive track record by establishing vendor accounts, making timely payments, and correcting public and credit bureau records. The business may have more credit options in the future, at lower costs and more favorable terms, if efforts are made to create a clean business credit history before financing is needed.