Establishing business credit is a good idea for small business owners for several reasons. Business credit not only helps small businesses build a company image but also reserves cash flow for important purchases. The key to establishing business credit is to separate your business credit from your personal credit.
Building business credit can be accomplished regardless of your personal credit history. Business credit is essential in conserving cash flow, keeping track of business expenses and more importantly, protecting personal assets and personal credit history. The most important element to building business credit is finding lending institutions, credit card issuers and vendors that will establish business credit without you giving a personal guarantee from your individual credit information.
Business credit is also a way of building your company’s image and identity. The following are 9 Steps to Building Credit for Your Business:
Decide how you want to structure your business. This may take some research but a few common ways to structure a business are: C-Corporation; S-Corporation; Sole-Proprietorship; Limited Liability and Partnerships. For business credit separate from your personal credit you will need to structure your business as a Corporation or LLC. You can also purchase a “shelf” or “aged” corporation in the State where you want to do business. A shelf or aged corporation is one which has no activity and is created and put on the “shelf” to age and use at a later date. There are companies which sell shelf corporations.
Obtain an employer identification number (EIN). Business credit applications require your business name, business address and employer identification number. You may obtain an EIN from the IRS online. (www.irs.gov). The application is really basic and takes about 5 minutes. As a sole proprietor you may apply or if you are a corporation any officer may apply.
Open a separate bank account under the exact legal name of the business. Business checking accounts can be opened with as little as a $100.00 deposit.
Business address and telephone number must be listed under the business name in the 411 directory and the telephone must be answered in your business name.
Obtain required business license, permits, registrations, etc., in the City or Jurisdiction where you do business.
Technically, at this point you are ready to establish business credit with some vendors such as Staples. Simply go to www.staples.com fax your business phone bill along with the credit application on your business letterhead to apply for business credit. No personal guarantee is required and you should receive the standard business credit line of $750.00.
Establish a profile with Dun and Bradstreet (DNB) and obtain a D-U-N-S Number. DNB is the largest tracker of business credit. The D-U-N-S Number is a nine-digit identification number that provides unique identifiers of business entities. The website for Dun & Bradstreet is www.dnb.com. There is no charge and you will receive a D-U-N-S Number within 30 business days. You can pay for their credit builder services in order to receive the D-U-N-S immediately, but it is definitely not necessary. Companies where you apply for credit that use Dun & Bradstreet services will request your credit file and this will establish your file. It may take up to 45 days for the companies to report.
Note: If you do decide to pay for their credit builder services preparation is vital when contacting Dun & Bradstreet. Make sure you have covered all your bases. What you say to DNB goes permanently into your file.
Now that you have received your D-U-N-S number you are prepared to apply for business credit. As you begin to establish business credit it is imperative that you pay your invoices before the grace period. A Paydex Score of 80 is considered very good and is based on your payment history with at least five (5) vendors. It makes a difference for every day you pay earlier than the actual due date unlike personal credit. Business credit scores range on a scale from 0 to 100 and a Paydex score of 80 will get you the best business credit cards and terms.
After completing the process you may want to apply to the following companies with no personal guarantee required. Do not apply for everything at one time. This may get your business credit file flagged. Allow a couple of weeks between applications.
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