Business credit evolves as the business succeeds. At first business credit is likely to be personally guaranteed but operating success will lead to a strong business score.
Stage 1: Personal Credit
Most startups will find credit to be unobtainable. Even when a business is organized as a separate legal entity, such as a corporation, banks will be reluctant to lend money to new companies without a solid operating history. Because of this, many entrepreneurs turn to personal savings or personal credit lines to get their business off the ground.
While some credit use at this stage will be reported as personal credit of the owner, the business should be still obtain a D&B D-U-N-S® number, and use it when applying for any type of credit.
Stage 2: Building Business Credit
Equipment leases are one of the first credit opportunities for many small businesses. Although you may be able to afford to pay cash for a computer or office copier, leasing the equipment establishes a credit history for your business, and helps to preserve cash for other expenses. Be sure that the leasing company reports the lease as credit, and also be sure that they are reporting your timely payments. As a small business owner, you should be monitoring your credit history with CreditBuilderTM, an easy to use service from Dun & Bradstreet
Trade credit extended by your suppliers will also help your business build a credit score. It is important to review any available payment options to balance the cost of credit against the advantage of quickly building your credit history.
A business credit card is also an important step in building a credit history. At first, expect to personally guarantee a business card. Since the card makes it easier to complete small purchases for your business, it is important to get a card, even though it will also show up in your personal credit history.
Stage 3: A Strong Business Score
Over time, your business will have a strong credit history. Based solely on business sales and cash flow, banks and other businesses will eventually offer you credit without a personal guarantee. This is the final stage of business credit, when the owner is no longer personally liable for any business debts.