In light of recent economic circumstances, it's getting more difficult to obtain credit. Remember, business credit scores are determined by a different numbering system than personal credit scores. Facts on business credit transactions are collected by the business credit reporting agencies to produce your business credit report using your business name, address and federal tax ID number. If your small business hasn't yet acquired a solid credit rating, conventional lenders such as commercial banks may be unwilling to extend credit to you. Here are some steps that you can take to improve your business credit rating:
- Be aware of the factors that can improve a business credit rating. There are several factors that influence your business credit; it's not just a case of whether you've been late in paying the bills.
- One way to find out what factors are counted in your credit score is to analyze your current credit reports. (Asking for your business' credit report will not influence your credit rating.) Pay particular attention to the items in the "negative" category. Look for mistakes, signs of business fraud or identity theft, and outdated information.
- Make sure that your vendors are reporting your payments, because the more vendors that report a positive credit history to the credit reporting agencies, the higher your business credit rating will be.
- Repair the damage. The quickest way to begin to improve bad credit is to pay off your debts. Decreasing the balance on your business credit cards can have an immediate impact on your business' credit rating. If you have good credit, requesting a credit line increase can improve your credit even more because such an increase lowers the percentage of your available credit in use.
- Set a goal. Having your ideal credit score written down will give you something concrete to strive for.
- After you have made a conscious effort to improve your business credit, understand that it will take time. The negatives that lower your score stay on your credit report for seven years and can harm your business credit rating.
- Continue to monitor the information that your credit card issuers have reported.
- While you wait, try to avoid applying for additional credit cards.
- If you have a generally positive credit history with a business credit card, don't close the account.
- Continue to make your payments on time.
- Try to keep your balance at 20 percent to 30 percent of your credit limit.
Getting a handle on your current credit profile is the best way to improve business credit. Continually monitoring your business credit rating can save you money. With Experian's subscription plan, you'll get unlimited, anytime access to our easy-to-read reports. We will send you email alerts when your credit score changes. You will be well on your way to improving your business credit rating.