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3 Quick Ways to Repair Bad Business Credit

The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Business CreditBand-aidWhen you run a business, there are all sorts of things that can go wrong, and concerning just about all of them, you have little control over the situation. Clients and customers leave for all sorts of reasons, contracts are breached, vendors fail to deliver promised goods, and so on.

But one problem that you can fix is a bad business credit file. Good credit is vital to small business success; it allows you to get loans at affordable rates, to grow, and to generally handle business. Negative credit hampers your ability to run your business properly. So how do you clean up your business credit if for some reason yours is bad?

Here are three ways:

1. Check for accuracy: It is estimated that a billion pieces of new information are reported on personal and business credit reports every month. Yes, you read that right – billion with a B. As such, mistakes are often made. For example:

  • It may be that a creditor mistakenly reported you to credit bureaus
  • Or they misspelled another company’s business name, a name very similar to yours, and the ding ends up on your report by mistake
  • Or an old debt that was paid off is still showing up on your report

 

Whatever the case, the thing here is that you have to pull your credit report, check it for accuracy, and then challenge those pieces that are inaccurate. You will need to back up your claim as to why the debt does not belong to you, but as long as you can do so and you are right, the negative listing will be removed, and that will improve your credit rating.

2. Negotiate: OK, let’s say that all of the entries on your report are accurate, and you do owe some money, or have some past due debts, or whatever the case may be. In that case, your best bet insofar as cleaning up your credit report goes, is to negotiate with the creditor(s) in question.

For example, say that you owe a vendor $1,000 from a year ago, and it is being reported as severely past due. What you can and should do is this:

  • Contact the creditor and explain that you want to clear up the debt
  • If you can afford to pay the entire amount, offer that
  • If you can’t afford to pay the whole thing, offer a lump sum payment that is less than the whole amount, but not insulting. The creditor will be inclined to take the money because, as they say, something is better than nothing
  • Make you payment contingent on two things: Getting the agreement in writing, and a written promise that the creditor will update the report you once you pay up

 

3. Pay in full and on time: Going forward, the best thing you can do to clean up your credit is to pay your debts in full and on time. While that may not seem like a quick solution, but actually, it is. Within a year or so, on average, you will see an improved credit score. And within a few years, your business credit score will be such that you too will be able to get affordable loans, lines of credit, and more.

And when that happens, you business will have grown so much that paying debts late because you don’t have enough cash flow will be a thing of the past.

Photo Credit: c.a.s.e.y, Flickr. 

Author:

Steven D. Strauss is the country's leading small business expert. An internationally recognized lawyer, columnist, and speaker, Steve is also an author of 15 books. Steve's highly syndicated business column, Ask an Expert, appears weekly at USATODAY.com He is also the small business columnist for Microsoft, and AT&T who calls him "America's Small Business Expert."