Your business credit score is an important yardstick of your company’s fiscal health. If you’re seeking financing, showing your creditworthiness will be a big part of applying and getting approved. While we don’t need your credit score here at Fundbox, most lenders (from banks to invoice factors) will definitely want it.
Business credit scores come up in more situations, too. For example, if you’re looking to negotiate good terms with your suppliers, get the best lease on commercial property, or secure good insurance premiums, your credit score can help. Unlike your personal credit report which requires your permission to pull it, anyone can access your business credit report. You can also access it anytime.
In a nutshell, good business credit makes for a sustainable, growth-oriented business. Here are some things you can do to build good business credit.
6 Things You Can Do to Establish and Build Your Business Credit
Check Your Personal and Business Credit Files
The first thing you want to do is check your personal and business credit score. For the personal, go to AnnualCreditReport.com—a free source of credit reports verified by the government and operated by the three national reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Always check your report for any errors. Look for any inaccuracies in every section, including your personal information, SSN, accounts, and loans. Report any incorrect information to the business that issued the account or the credit reporting company that issued the report.
Next, check out your business credit report. You can request these from Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax. If you don’t have a credit file with these agencies or are new to business, you can set one up by registering for a D-U-N-S number with Dun & Bradstreet (used to identify companies in the U.S.).
Add Trade References to Your Credit File
Trade references are vital to a strong business credit score. These reflect your good record of payments with suppliers and vendors. Some will be proactive about sharing this information with the credit reporting agencies, but they aren’t required to do so. You can also add them on your own.
Your score is determined by a number of things, including the number of trade experiences you have, outstanding balanced, payment habits, and demographics (such as years on file, business size, etc.).
Pay On Time, or Early
Your payment habits have a big impact on your credit score. If you pay before a due date, or even 15-30 days in advance (cash flow permitting), you’ll improve your D&B Paydex score.
If you’re doing everything else already, then borrowing from lenders who report to credit agencies can boost your business credit score. A history of responsible borrowing and paying back on time builds good personal and business credit. Ask your lender whether they report your payment activity.
Keep Your Business and Personal Finances Separate
Keeping things separate makes bookkeeping easier and applying for a loan or line of credit less of a hassle. It also protects your personal credit, should your business get into financial trouble, and vice versa.
Open a business checking account and use it for all your business expenses and deposits. You’ll likely need a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), before you open one—think of it as the business equivalent of your SSN. Read more in Don’t Mix Business and Personal Finances.
Monitor and Look for Anomalies
Now that you’ve spent so much time building your credit, keep an eye on it. There are many places where you can access your credit report for free on a regular basis. (Here are 5 places you can go to check your business credit.)
You may want to keep even closer track of your business credit report. To do so on a monthly basis, look to any of the top business credit agencies (Experian, Equifax, etc.). They all offer a range of business credit monitoring services for as low as $20 per month. Monitoring is important if you’re actively looking to build credit. Monitoring will let you know when new activity is detected and allow you to stay on top of any mistakes.
This article was updated on January 11, 2018.