Only one in three small-business owners has checked their business credit report, according to a Wall Street Journal study. If you ever need to finance a renovation for your store or studio or negotiate credit terms with vendors, it’s information that could be very helpful.
If you’re a fledgling dance studio or dance retailer, lenders will most likely use your personal credit score to judge how creditworthy you are when you apply for financing. But many small-business creditors are moving away from relying solely on personal credit when judging a business’ financial health. According to Experian, they’re finding that “personal credit is not considered an ideal predictor of business behavior.”
Reasons to Establish a Business Credit Rating
That means that as your dance business grows, you’ll want to establish a business credit rating—not least of all because it can be very helpful in managing cash flow: A strong rating can make it easier and quicker to get a small-business loan—and at lower interest rates—and you’ll be eligible for higher credit lines and more favorable terms with vendors. Plus, a strong business credit rating can qualify you for lower commercial insurance rates.
Major Business Credit Reporting Bureaus
Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax are three of the most popular business credit reports. FICO also has a business credit score that is widely used.
While each of the major consumer credit bureaus is required to give you an annual free personal credit report (but not a free credit score), that’s not true of business credit bureaus. You’ll need to pay anywhere from $40 to $100 or more to see your store or studio’s credit report and score. Nav, a small-business financing website, offers free summaries of your business credit reports.
Getting Your Business Credit Score
Don’t be alarmed if you find out your business credit score is 80. In contrast to the 300-to-850 range of a personal credit score, many business credit scores range from 0 to 100. And each company calculates its scores a little differently.
DUN & BRADSTREET
The D&B PAYDEX score is based entirely on how promptly you pay your bills, with a higher score for a history of quicker payments. Vendors and suppliers use it to decide what terms they’ll offer you (net 30, net 60 and so on); having a good score means you’ll likely have longer to pay, giving you more flexibility to manage cash flow.
Its Intelliscore Plus score takes many factors into account, including tradeline and collection information, key financial ratios and public filings. Basically, timely payments and good debt management will build a strong score. (A version of the score is a blend of personal and business credit data.)
Equifax’s Business Credit Report has three scores: Payment Index (your payment history and habits), Business Credit Risk Score (the likelihood your company will have a 90-day delinquency or charge-off over the next year) and Business Failure Score (the possibility of your business failing, either informally or in a bankruptcy, over the next year).
Its LiquidCredit SBSS (Small Business Scoring Service) Score ranks small businesses by their likelihood of making payments on time. It’s used by banks for term loans and lines of credit, and by the U.S. Small Business Administration to prescreen loan applications.
The Bottom Line
Although your personal credit score still is important for your studio or store, there are benefits to establishing a strong business credit rating. As Experian reports, “creditors are taking advantage of new blended commercial scoring tools that integrate both personal and business credit attributes to assess and predict small-business risk.” Just as you do with your personal credit report (we hope!), monitor your business report to track (and improve) your company’s financial health and to verify that there are no mistakes, including missing revenue figures or other financial data that could make lending to your business seem riskier than it really is.
Updated September 26, 2019