There’s all kinds of statistics out there about how often businesses fail, and what causes them to fail. According to Michael Gerber, who authored The E-Myth, 80% of businesses fail within 5 years. Then, of the 20% that remains, another 80% of them fail between years 5-10.
Regardless of whose stats you choose to adhere to, there’s one common cause that is on almost every list of reasons why businesses fail. Many businesses fail because they lack access to adequate capital. In my opinion it is not the #1 reason, but it is one of the 3 biggest reasons for businesses not getting started, or not being able to endure.
Two of the things that successful business owners do is plan and execute. I know it sounds basic, but that basic formula has helped many succeed. When it comes to obtaining capital, I tell people they should make it their goal to do three things.
3 Goals of Properly Borrowing Money as a Small Business Owner:
1. Always be able to borrow more money when and if it’s needed for the business.
2. Always go get your “working capital” before you need it – not after you find yourself in a mess. Your lines of credit will be a blessing when you’re in a mess, but good luck obtaining them when times are tough!
3. Always ensure that you do everything possible so you can obtain as much capital as possible, with the best possible terms, and with the least amount of collateral required.
So for someone looking to succeed in business, how do we do this?
It starts with personal credit. Do you know what your FICO score is (not your FAKO score)? You can only buy your FICO scores at myfico.com. Other credit scores are referred to as FAKO scores. You should not only learn and know about it, but you should also understand what makes a good, robust credit profile.
Credit scores can be deceiving in many ways. One is the FICO vs. FAKO confusion. Two, is that there are multiple versions and generations of FICO scores. Third, is that having plenty of tradelines to support your credit profile is very wise. This is because a credit score alone doesn’t fully tell you how much repayment history you have across a variety of different tradelines or opportunities.
Look to protect, preserve, and improve your credit profile. With your assets like your primary residence, your retirement account, jewelry, etc. — don’t you protect them, look to preserve them, and hope their value increases over time? Your personal credit should be treated as the asset it is (or can be), so think of it the same way.
You treat your credit as an asset and protect, preserve, and improve it in a variety of ways. One, do not pay anything late ever – and definitely don’t pay anything more than 30 days late. Two, work to remove any late payments or blemishes that are on your credit profile.
Just like you could represent yourself in a lawsuit without an attorney, you could also work to improve your credit profile yourself – or you could hire a professional. Professional credit repair advisors are hard to find. I recommend starting with the National Asssociation of Credit Services Organizations or NACSO.
Third, you should make sure you have at least 3 or 4 (more is better) revolving tradelines on your credit profile. These are your credit cards and credit lines. You will also want the credit limits to improve, and to get as high as possible over time. Also, remember that many business credit cards, like Capital One, report to your personal credit report, so don’t assume you’ve separated your personal and business credit just because you have a business credit card. All credit cards that are showing on your personal credit will count toward this.
Fourth, you must properly manage these credit cards and keep your utilization low. There’s not a magic number, but lower is better. Under 30% is better than being under 40%. Under 20% is better than under 30% but try to be under 10% if possible.
These four credit principles will help you to protect, preserve, and improve your personal credit as you build your business. After all, it’s an asset, so why wouldn’t we pay attention to these important principles? If you do that, then you’ll be much more likely to ensure you can take full advantage of the 3 Goals of Properly Borrowing Money as a Small Business Owner.
Because of the importance of personal and business credit, small-business owners should always actively monitor their business credit, to ensure that the information in their credit file is entirely accurate.