We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all businesses are not created equal. In reality, even similar businesses right next door to each other will be vastly different. Characteristics such as your industry, legal structure, ownership, age, employee count, and credibility will set your business apart from others around it.
In the world of corporate credit, lenders and suppliers are looking for evidence of one specific trait – financial independence.
For your business to become financially independent, it must prove it can stand on its own merit and shoulder its own debt. Potential creditors will review the corporate credit report looking for proof of stability, strength, and growth. They want to see ownership that manages financial responsibilities on a consistent and conscientious basis, and leadership that steers the business toward the future.
Below are a few simple steps you can take to build financial independence for your small business.
1. Update Your Business Bank Account Maintain a separate and independent bank account for your business needs. The bank account must point to your actual business address, even if that business operates from your residence. The business name and address on the account must match that of the business credit report, and all business finances should funnel through this account as clear validation of the business’s income. In addition, all debts need to be paid from this same account so they can flow into the business credit file as necessary.
2. Maintain Vendor and Supplier Accounts Any purchases your business makes or expenses it pays need to be in the business name, even basic services such as phone, postage, web hosting, equipment leases, and office supplies. You should create accounts with your providers in the business name and at the business address, and any purchases should be billed and shipped to that same address. Even if you are prepaying for the service, the purchase needs to be associated to your business, not to you or in your personal name.
3. Accuracy in Credit Cards and Applications When applying for credit accounts and credit cards, you should always do so in the business name. While you may be required to provide your personal information or agree to personal guaranty the account, your business should be the one held accountable for the debt and the one benefiting from strong repayment history. Always make sure the account is being set up as a business or commercial account, even if you have to specifically request the designation.
4. Proactively Manage Your Corporate Credit Profile Maintain your business credit report so it always reflects proactive responsibility, accuracy, positive payment history, and scores and ratings that continuously improve over time. You can review the raw data in your company’s credit profile for free using D&B’s iUpdate portal, but you will need to purchase a copy of your actual corporate credit report or enroll in a monitoring service to be able to see the scores and ratings.
As a skilled credit professional, I can review your credit profile, advise about what improvements are needed, and work with you to get your business the credit it deserves. I’ll also teach you as we go along so you’ll be able to proactively manage your own file going forward. Our goal is to get your business credit, but also to help you be your own business credit professional.
LESSON: Corporate credit rarely builds itself. If you want your business credit to be independent of your personal credit, you have to take steps to separate the two. If you are proactive and use the steps outlined above, your credit file will continuously prove your credibility and growth going forward.