There are 32 million businesses in America. 22 million are small businesses who generate 54% of the nation's products or services. 82% of corporate credit reports pulled daily are on small businesses making $500,000 or less per year. Nearly half of those are being pulled on companies making less than $100,000 per year. So who needs D&B more? • Big businesses who rely on data about applicants to make a credit decision? • Small businesses who are seeking accounts with those creditors and suppliers?
For those who have never heard my story, I was 20 years into a prosperous career as an independent graphic designer in New Hampshire when I relocated my business to Texas after a death in the family. Little did I know I would have to completely rebuild my thriving business. I had never heard of Dun and Bradstreet, but that didn't seem to matter. I was confident, experienced, had a solid client base, and business was booming. But Dun and Bradstreet had heard of me. In fact, not only had they created a D&B D-U-N-S® number for me without my knowledge, several of my suppliers had been steadily feeding positive payment history about my company to D&B for years without me even knowing. Before my relocation, if I needed anything for my business, I just opened an account, charged what I needed, and then paid the bill when it came due. I never knew D&B was even in the picture. But after moving my business to a new location, D&B lost track of me, and so did my suppliers. Suddenly, it was as if I never existed. It seemed like I couldn't establish a line of credit or retail account to save my life. All of a sudden I was being asked to personally guarantee purchases, my personal credit scores were plummeting due to all the inquiries, and I was even being required to prepay for supplies from my new sources. Even though I had lots of clients, my access to supplies was becoming more and more limited and profits were being eaten away by the higher cost of equipment, supplies, and increased interest rates. After several years, I was actually forced to shutter my graphic design business and go to work for someone else just to keep food on the table. As fate would have it, I went to work for Dun and Bradstreet, and for the first time in my life, after 20 years in business, I discovered the impact the business credit file had on my company, on every company... no matter how young or old, whether a tiny sole proprietor working from home or major conglomerate trading on Wall Street. Big businesses can suffer similar circumstances when data in their D&B file doesn't reflect their true value and ability to survive risk. Like small business, they feel the impact when their bills don't get paid on time or they're hit with lawsuits or negative publicity. Data can become corrupted. Sudden changes to a business's risk factors can have devastating results. Before Donald Trump became president, for instance, he had very little trouble accessing capital for his commercial real estate deals even though his D&B Paydex score is very low (19 out of 100). He has been in business for many years, has equity to fall back on, and has shown an uncanny ability to withstand high risk over time. What he probably doesn't know is that his company is considered risky to creditors. Because of that, he is likely to pay higher interest rates, stiffer penalties, and heightened rates on his bonds and insurance, but he will probably not be impacted as much by that low Paydex score as the Mom and Pop shop down the street. Big established businesses have the advantage of history, strength, and structure to get them through a few rough spots. Their durability is already in evidence with D&B, so their scores and ratings are less likely to be as severely impacted by some small bit of data in the equation. But big business suffers in other ways when the data in D&B's system is incorrect or incomplete, but not how you might think. You see, big businesses rely on smaller commercial customers to insure their own success. America's biggest and most profitable companies will only establish new accounts for companies who meet a base criteria. Specifically they are looking for a set of scores and ratings to be presented in the business credit report. If a potential new customer is denied based upon D&B's data, and that data is corrupted, it doesn't paint a true picture of a company's creditworthiness. Not only does the small business miss out on an opportunity to grow, but the big business just lost out on what may have been a very rewarding new customer. Unlike a large, well-established conglomerate, small business owners and sole proprietors can suffer irreversible harm if just one piece of information is incorrect, such as an old address, or an unrelated lawsuit, or a couple of minuscule payments showing as past due. The struggle of the small business (brought on by bad data) now becomes a lost opportunity for the big businesses who need those commercial customers to survive. If only that business owner had known how quickly and easily that could all be turned around. My small home-based business was painfully impacted because I never knew I had a D&B file, and because D&B never realized I had moved to Texas and continued operations from a different