3 Steps to Managing Your Business Credit For the Small Business Owner

As small business owners, many entrepreneurs may find it difficult to establish business credit and often have to rely on their personal credit history to get their business up and running. As soon as you decide to go forward with your business, there are a few steps you can take to start developing your business credit profile, which can help you negotiate better rates when financing with your vendors and suppliers.

1. First, if you have been operating for awhile, determine if you have a business credit profile. Check with D & B (Dun & Bradstreet) to see if they have an online file for your business. D & B is the leader in business credit reporting. If you do have a file available, review all the information to be certain it is accurate, just as you would your personal credit report. If they don’t have a file for your business, request a DUNS number and start building your business profile.

2. Add to your business credit profile by establishing your business checking account at a financial institution that understands the needs of small business owners. Compare rates and fees for maintaining accounts with the services that best suit your needs. Fees for simple actions such as the number of checks written or amount of cash deposited per month can vary from bank to bank and ultimately impact your bottom line. Look into whether you qualify for membership with a local credit union; they often have lower rates on many widely available services. Establish your utility services in your business name and pay for those services with your business checking account.

3. Be sure to pay your bills, especially your rent/mortgage on time. Your credit rating is determined by many factors, but paying bills on time is one of the top factors. Also, don’t over extend yourself with credit and keep your debt to cash ratio in mind. Also, get to know the credit history of your customers so you won’t jeopardize paying your bills on time because of slow paying customers.

Starting with these few simple steps can help you better manage your credit, which may affect your interest rates on everything from business lines of credit, equipment leasing, insurance premiums and even merchant cash advances. Invest some time in understanding what your credit is saying about your ability to do business, today and for many years to come.

How To Qualify For A Business Loan

Qualifying for a business loan is not as easy as it was even one year ago. This is because most lending institutions have increased the requirements for businesses requesting a loan. The recent slowdown in our economy has forced banks to re-examine their lending practices as many businesses are experiencing lower profits. So when you are looking for a loan for your business it is important that you have everything in order so you will have the best chance to be approved.

One of the first things that you need to look at before going to a lending institution is whether or not you have a good business plan together. Having a business plan drawn up for your company is a great way to show the bank that you have carefully considered your request. This will show the bank where your business is currently and where you hope it will go once you have been approved for a loan. There are many professional writers that work as freelancers that have the expertise in this area that you can hire if you are uncertain about your ability to convey your thoughts on paper.

The next thing to do before you go to a lender is to look at your company’s financials. Clear as many debts as you possibly can. For example, if you use a credit card start paying it off monthly or if you have a vehicle loan with just a few payments left on it you might want to consider paying it off. This will help your income to debt ratio and make your business a more attractive prospect.

Once you have done that, you should look at all the officer’s credit reports. Every officer of the company will have a credit history run on them because they will be personally guaranteeing the loan. So make sure that the person income to debt ratio is good and clean up any bad marks against your credit.

When you have all of that together you are now ready to go to the lending institution. With the situation the way it is currently it would be wise to start with the bank you already have a relationship with. This is especially true if you have a community or local bank. They make their decisions based on the local area unlike the larger national banks. If your company is turned down don’t take it personally but consider your other options.

There are other places to gain access to a loan. You need to keep your eyes open, when the private market tightens the amount of money they are willing to lend oftentimes you can more easily qualify for an SBA loan. So if your bank says no don’t give up to easily especially if all of your financials are strong. So when you are looking for a business loan make sure that you have your company looking the best that it can financially and present the lenders with a solid business plan.

Getting Accepted For A Small Business Loan

When starting a small business, one of the most important things to consider is financing. You will need enough money (or capital) to run your business until it begins to make a profit. One of the chief reasons that small businesses fail is lack of sufficient capital.

There are several ways to get enough capital to start and maintain a business but you first must decide just how much money you need. Do you need the money to expand or are you just beginning the business? Capital is especially critical in the beginning stages of a new business. Assess your risks, as that will affect your financing options and cost. Whether your industry is stable, growing or depressed it all affects how much money you can borrow and what interest rates you can get.

After assessing how much capital your business needs, you will decide whether you want equity or debt financing. Debt financing takes into account the company’s debt to equity ratio, the relation of the funds you have borrowed and those you have invested in the business. If you have invested a considerable amount into your business and have decent equity, it will be easier to attract financing. When a company has a less equity than debt, you’ll want to increase your equity investment for more funds so that you aren’t over-leveraged.

Banks, commercial finance companies, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and savings and loan companies offer debt financing. Historically, businesses have patronized banks for financing, especially for short-term loans. Banks will often turn down small businesses requesting long-term loans because of the risks involved. When a business applies for a loan, the lenders usually ask for the borrower’s personal guarantee as well as considering the business’s equity. This could require merely a signature or posting of collateral.

Most small businesses make use of equity financing. Commonly, the source of equity funding is from venture capitalists. These are institutions that risk money on small businesses, hoping for a good return for their investment. These venture capitalists may be individuals, government sources or financial concerns. One well-known example of capitalist investing is Silicon Valley.

Whether you decide on equity or debt financing, you will need to present a financial picture of your business. Any financial institution or investor will require documentation of your real or projected annual sales, how many people you employ, how long you have been in business, which type of business you have and who owns it.

You will need to put together financial statements for the past few years as well as current statements and submit personal financial statements of any partners, officers or stockholders that own twenty percent or more of the business. Any person or institution lending your business money will want to know exactly how the business will use the funds.

Lenders will scrutinize your financial statements carefully so the statements should be accurate and up-to-date. You will need balance sheets from the last three fiscal years, cash flow projections, personal tax returns for the past three years, income statements on the business’ profits or losses as well as accounts receivables and payables.

As you can see, it takes much careful preparation should you decide to apply for a loan. Your local SBA can be a tremendous resource in preparing for and applying for a small business loan.