While building your business credit score takes time and patience, there a few best practices you can start TODAY. By applying best practices to build business credit, your business is better positioned to get access to cheap capital.
Step 1: Pull a Credit Reports from a Business Credit Bureau
As a business owner, you need to better understand what you are dealing with in order to drive resolution speed. In this case, you must pull a credit report from one of several business credit bureaus. In many cases there can be erroneous information in the file (e.g., wrong addresses) that needs to be cleaned up. Other issues present bigger challenges. Nevertheless, the starting line is the credit file.
Two business credit bureaus include:
- Equifax: reach out to Equifax to get a copy of your Business Risk Indicator Report for $7.49. Monthly monitoring services start at $5.99/month.
- Duns & Bradstreet (D&B): be sure to apply for a D-U-N-S number. It’s free and easy. Once you have established a D-U-N-S number, you can sign-up for FREE alerts with other upgrades available to get detailed explanations on your business credit.
Step 2: Review and Attack Issues in Credit Report
Once you have pulled your credit report, you should establish a game plan to address each of the most critical problems. If there is a missing final lease payment for instance, get to the institution reporting the missing payment and resolve it so the issue can be “closed” one way or the other. If credit card balances are continuously too high (very common) put an alternative financing plan in place to bring those balances down to better tolerances between outstanding balance and available credit. If there is a lien (much more serious), a lien needs to be removed to secure any sort of funding from an entity such as a bank. Traditional lenders won’t loan to a client with liens. Finally, if there is a major issue such as a bankruptcy, there is no fast way around that other than time and a good payment record.
Step 3: Establish a Good Business Credit Record
If you are a new company, it is far easier to establish a good business credit record than to rebuild one. Start by opening a credit card in the name of the business. If you are an established business using your personal credit cards to fund your business (also very common), create a plan to pay off the personal credit cards and begin to transition all lines of credit under your business name. Keep less than a third of the available credit outstanding and pay regularly. This is one of the fastest ways to establish a good business credit score.