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The Truth About Using a Personal Guaranty on Business Credit

You're filling out a credit application. Everything is going along just fine until you get to that box at the bottom... You know the one — where you're being asked to provide a personal guaranty — and, suddenly, you hit the brakes. Why is it, when you are working so hard to separate your business credit from your personal credit, those suppliers or lenders wanting you to mix them all together again?

Ugh! The dreaded personal guaranty! It's like hiring a divorce lawyer before you're even married! You're working so hard to separate your business credit from your personal, and those pesky suppliers and creditors expect you to mess it all up again.

A personal guaranty (or guarantee) is an agreement that says you'll be held personally responsible for the debts of your business if, for whatever reason, your business doesn't hold up it's end of the agreement. But just because you are being asked if you are willing to provide a personal guaranty, doesn't mean you will be required to do so.

Let's take a step back and look at things rationally for a minute...

When you're applying for credit, the lender or supplier usually doesn't know you or your business. You're asking them to act on faith, and faith alone, that your word is good enough. Unfortunately, for every business that has operated on faith alone, there are a hundred that are carrying debt they will never recover. Smart (and profitable) businesses don't rely on faith. They rely on data...

In most cases, that lender or supplier is going to perform a cursory review of your business reputation. You're applying for business credit, so they are going to pull a business credit report. All too often, this is an automated process that started the moment you clicked the "SUBMIT" button on that application, so no human interaction has occurred.

They (or their system) will check to make sure the business information you provided in your application (company name, address, phone, and principals) matches a business credit report on your company. They may also perform a soft pull of the personal credit report to verify your identity, now required by law on most financial applications.