When it comes to building business credit, having a solid strategy is essential for your company’s financial stability and growth. It’s clear from the 15% of businesses who formally applied for credit in 2020 that credit is an invaluable tool.
In addition, a robust business credit profile can result in better terms on business loans, lower insurance rates, and more favorable supplier terms.
This comprehensive guide will explore eight practical ways to build business credit and optimize your company’s financial potential.
Owners are looking for the invaluable addition of business credit and for good reason. Benefits of building business credit include:
- Improved loan approval chances and better interest rates
- Access to more extensive lines of credit and more financing options
- Lower insurance premiums for your business
- Enhanced credibility with suppliers, vendors, and customers
- Increased negotiating power for more favorable payment terms
Let’s dive into the path you can take to help your business take advantage of this powerful resource.
Registering Your Business: Legal Foundation and Separation of Finances
Registering your business is a crucial step in building business credit, as it establishes a legal foundation for your company and allows you to separate your personal and business finances. By creating a distinct financial identity for your business, you can protect your personal assets and reduce liability.
Various business structures exist, including sole proprietorships and partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations. These structures have varying registration requirements depending on state regulations.
Even while representing just 10.8% of all partnerships, LLCs reported 30.3% of all returns.
Researching your state’s guidelines and consulting with a legal or financial professional will help you determine your business’s best course of action.
Some benefits of properly registering your business include the following:
- Limited personal liability: By separating your personal and business finances, you can limit your personal liability in case of business debts or legal issues.
- Improved credibility: Registering your business can enhance your credibility with potential customers, suppliers, and lenders, thereby facilitating the process of building business credit.
- Access to financing: Businesses that are registered have access to more financing options, including loans and lines of credit, that are crucial for growth and can positively affect their business credit profile.
- Tax benefits: Depending on your chosen business structure, registering your business may provide tax benefits that can help you maximize deductions and minimize your tax burden.
Take full advantage in your entrepreneurial path.
Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Once your company has been registered, you should contact the IRS to request an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This distinctive identity aids in creating a separate credit profile for your organization and is necessary for tax purposes. In addition, having an EIN is essential for establishing business credit since it allows you to keep the financial operations of your company distinct from your personal credit history.
The following are additional advantages of getting an EIN:
- Opening business bank accounts: An EIN enables you to open business bank accounts, which are necessary for managing your firm’s money and building a credit history.
- Applying for loans: Since an EIN proves your firm is an actual, registered entity, lenders frequently demand one when you apply for business financing.
- Tax filing: An EIN is required to make sure that your business’s tax obligations are distinct from your personal tax filings.
- Hiring employees: If you plan to hire employees, an EIN is required for reporting employment taxes and other payroll-related matters to the IRS.
Registering your business and obtaining an EIN lays a strong foundation for building business credit. This separation of personal and business finances not only protects your personal assets but also enables you to access better financing opportunities and enjoy tax benefits, ultimately contributing to the growth and success of your business.
Apply for a DUNS Number
Reporting more than 500 million records in their system, the DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet is a special nine-digit code. This code helps the well-known business credit bureau, to identify a data entry in their system uniquely. This number is used by lenders and other businesses to assess your company’s financial health, making it a crucial part of your business credit profile.
Applying for a DUNS number is simple and free. You can log onto Dun & Bradstreet’s website to start the process. Once you’ve received your DUNS number, regularly monitor your credit report and ensure that all information is accurate and up to date.
Open a Business Credit Card
Opening a business credit card is essential in building your credit profile, which is why 67% of business owners have a business credit card. This financial tool helps you separate personal and business expenses while providing a platform for establishing a positive credit history. To begin, research different business credit card options and choose one that meets your company’s specific needs.
When using a business credit card, making timely payments and maintaining a low balance (less than 30% of your available credit) is crucial. These responsible habits will contribute to a higher credit score and a more robust credit profile.
Establish Trade Lines with Suppliers
Establishing trade lines with suppliers provides your business with valuable credit-building opportunities. Trade credit allows you to purchase inventory on account, with payment due several days or weeks after delivery. In addition, this type of credit arrangement can boost your business credit score if your supplier reports payments to a business credit bureau.
To maximize the benefits of trade credit, negotiate favorable payment terms with your suppliers, and ensure that your payments are reported to credit bureaus. If a supplier doesn’t report to a bureau, consider listing them as a trade reference on your account, so Dun & Bradstreet can collect your trade data.
Pay Creditors Early
Paying creditors early is a powerful strategy for building a solid business credit profile. Not only does this demonstrate financial responsibility, but it also contributes to a higher Paydex score, which measures a business’s payment history.
To optimize your payment history, prioritize early payments and maintain a low credit utilization rate (using less than 30% of your available credit). These habits will result in a more substantial credit score and improved financial opportunities for your business.
Benefits of Borrowing from Lenders That Report to Credit Bureaus
When selecting a lender for a small-business loan, prioritize those that report to business credit bureaus. Making timely payments on loans from lenders that report your activity will positively impact your business credit score. Therefore, inquire whether the lender reports to credit bureaus before taking out a small-business loan.
Banks typically report to credit bureaus, but their stringent lending criteria may pose challenges for newer businesses or those with poor credit. Online small-business lenders often have more lenient requirements and report to business credit bureaus.
Avoid Judgments and Liens
Avoiding judgments, liens, and bankruptcy filings is essential to keep a good business credit score. Failing to pay taxes or business debts can lead to a lien, which allows creditors to take your property to pay off the debt legally. In addition, unresolved debt may lead to a court ruling (judgment) against your business.
To safeguard your credit profile, address and resolve any financial issues promptly. Taking proactive steps to lessen potential risks is essential because negative marks on your business credit report can have long-lasting effects.
Maintain Up to Date Information with All Three Credit Bureaus
A strong recommendation is to regularly check your business credit report with the three primary business credit bureaus: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax. Ensure that all trade lines are recorded and notify the appropriate business credit bureau of any discrepancies, such as changes in address or incorrect negative remarks. Staying proactive in maintaining accurate information across all bureaus will contribute to a strong business credit profile.
Additional Strategies for Building Business Credit
Maintain a Positive Cash Flow
Positive cash flow demonstrates your business’s financial stability and ability to meet its obligations. Lenders and suppliers often view positive cash flow as a sign of a healthy, reliable business. Implement effective cash flow management practices, such as invoicing promptly, managing expenses, and maintaining an emergency fund.
Join Industry Associations and Networking Groups
Participating in industry associations and networking groups can provide opportunities for building relationships with suppliers, customers, and other businesses. These connections may lead to trade credit opportunities and other financial benefits, ultimately contributing to your business credit profile.
Obtain Certifications and Licenses
Securing relevant certifications and licenses for your business can enhance your credibility, making it more attractive to lenders and suppliers. Therefore, research the necessary certificates and licenses for your industry, and ensure your business complies with all applicable regulations.
Building business credit is a vital aspect of a successful business strategy. By implementing the eight core steps and additional strategies outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’ll establish a robust business credit profile that will help you secure better loan terms, lower insurance rates, and negotiate more favorable supplier agreements. Prioritize your business’s financial health by embracing these strategies and optimizing your company’s potential for success.
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