Updated: Jan 26
Dun and Bradstreet can be the single largest obstacle in the path of small business and entrepreneurial success. They have been described many ways over the years – big business giant, credit monopoly, self-proclaimed overseer, and my all-time favorite, “pimple on the ass of progress”– but in all reality, they truly are the most trusted resource businesses and lenders have when it comes to determining who should be awarded credit and how much.
Can your business clear the obstacles to creditworthiness?
Every child will eventually become a teenager, surviving skinned knees, first kisses, and all the trials of adolescence. Each teenager then overcomes even greater challenges, sleepless pre-test nights, a driver’s license road test, graduation, and leaving home for college. If, at any point, the challenge proves too difficult or the environment too precarious, the weak will fail and the strong will succeed to the next step in the process, finally moving out into a big bright world to prove their value to the planet.
Just as we all must grow and conquer the difficult obstacles in our personal lives to reach adulthood, every small business must pass the D&B test to grow and succeed in the business credit world.
No child endures the path from birth to adulthood without the help of others who have already successfully overcome the obstacles before them. While every parent dreams that their child will have an easier go of it than they did, that they will not have to go down the same daunting path to success, life has proven that without climbing those difficult mountains, one has no gauge to enjoy the view from the top.
Never has Nietzsche’s “what does not kill me makes me stronger” been truer than it is today, and truer still when describing the metamorphosis from dream-child to successful business enterprise.
While surviving the D&B gauntlet to creditworthiness does not need to be a life and death challenge, truth be told, some will not survive. And not because their entrepreneurial spirit wasn’t strong enough or their independent idea bright enough, but simply because they do not have the right mentor to guide them through the obstacles. Just as every person who ever parented a child was not cut out of the same June and Ward Cleaver bolt of fabric, not all business credit advisers will responsibly point their clients on the right path to success.
A mentor who recommends shortcuts or questionable actions to get their subject to the finish line instead of properly training and preparing them for the future does not have their client’s best interest at heart. When it seems that D&B has placed obstacles into your path, you should understand that the obstacles are there for a reason. And while D&B doesn’t always grow their processes as up-to-the minute as the global business environment requires, their insight into the deep, dark truth of business creditworthiness is uncanny.
Their scoring algorithms are based upon a history of measuring business creditworthiness for nearly three-quarters as long as our nation has existed. When a lender or creditor needs to know whether to extend a small business credit for their immediate needs or future growth, nine times out of ten, it is D&B they turn to for detailed knowledge of who has passed the muster, made the grade, and cleared the obstacles successfully.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a new umbrella shop in Seattle is more likely to thrive than one in Phoenix, or that a small business is more likely to fail in their first five years, or that a car dealership is going to need more business capital than a flower shop. But when it comes to deciding which flower shop is a better risk for the capital, or which umbrella shop in Seattle is a better supplier to meet your inventory needs, or which car dealership will still be located on a particular corner a year from now, history has proven nobody gauges risk better than D&B does.
The “pimple on the ass of progress” only comes into play when D&B is operating from information that is incomplete, not credible, or thrown together as a hodge-podge of half-truths and misrepresentations. Therefore — the obstacles are intended to weed out the credible from the conspirators.
LESSON: Understand the obstacles are there for a reason. Learn how to navigate through them and onward to success. Build business credit that will withstand the future scrutiny of D&B, creditors, and federal agencies. Work toward a winning strategy to get your business the credit it deserves.