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Improve your business credit IQ

Business credit scores are vitally important to small businesses. In today’s competitive market, a faulty credit score can dramatically affect the bottom line of any business and can lead to higher interest rates, difficulty in securing loans, and potential problems with suppliers. Conversely, favorable credit history can serve as the linchpin to success. It not only can save a small-business owner a considerable amount of money, but it also can provide access to capital with which to grow the business.

So, let’s do a quick review of some common business credit misconceptions.

If I have a small business, I automatically have a small-business credit score.

FALSE. If a business doesn’t have at least one tradeline and/or one demographic element (such as length of time the business has been credit active, how many employees, etc.), then a credit report and score are not generated. To establish a business credit score, you should ensure that your business vendors are reporting your payment history to the major credit reporting companies. This will help to build your commercial credit profile.

There are no drawbacks to using my personal credit score, rather than a business credit score, when attempting to secure funding.

FALSE.It’s true that many small-business owners fail to separate their business expenses from their personal expenses. However, the weakness of relying solely on personal credit is clear. If your business ever becomes at risk, your personal credit score becomes at risk as well.

Anyone can request and view my business credit score.

This isTRUE. Unlike personal credit reports, which are regulated and can be viewed only with the permission of the report holder, business credit reports are available to the public. This means that anyone — including potential lenders and suppliers — can openly view your business’s credit report. Given the public availability of business credit reports, it’s imperative to monitor your business credit score.

There are things I can do to improve my business credit score.

TRUE.It’s vitally important to be aware of possible inaccuracies or negative credit data on your credit file, should they exist. As the business owner, you may request that the credit reporting companies correct any mistakes to ensure that your credit file is accurate. By simply increasing your awareness of the factors that drive your current company credit score, you can begin to effectively manage your credit behavior. As always, the best thing that you can do is pay all financial obligations on time.