Many business owners make the mistake of ignoring their small business credit report. It is easy to forget that your business, just like any person, is a financial entity with a record of taking and repaying debt. From the time you open your business, it is important to build and monitor your business credit. Once you have established good credit as a company, your financial options will expand in the future.
Getting your Report
The first step to managing your credit is to know where to find it. While each person can check his or her credit for free annually, businesses do not have this option. A business will have to use a service in order to check a credit score. The good news is: there are plenty of services on the market for this, and many of them come at reasonable costs. Try contacting the credit bureaus to ask to view your score. You can contact Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. You may have the opportunity to view your individualized score for free for a short period of time. Similarly, you may choose a credit reporting service to view all three scores. Here, you will likely pay a small fee each time you view the report or a monthly fee for the service.
Once you are able to view your report, make sure you check for errors. It is not uncommon to find a problem on your small business credit. Sometimes, this amounts to paperwork errors at the credit bureau, and sometimes one of your creditors may have misreported information. To check for errors, view these areas:
- Open credit lines - Make sure you recognize each line of credit in your name, and make sure the balance and limits reflect your records. If there are any lines you do not recognize, contact the creditor to see which account may be open in your name.
- Payment history - If you see a notice for a late payment, default or other error, review your records to verify if this did indeed occur. If you believe you were marked late on a bill you were not late on, contact the creditor first. Ask to verify the problem. Even if you were late on a bill by a short period of time, it may have gone against your credit. You can ask the creditor to remove this negative report when you bring your bill up to date.
- Address or contact information mistakes - If your contact information is not correct, credit collections agencies may be trying to get in touch with you without your knowledge. Make sure the information on file is correct and updated in case anyone should use it to attempt to contact you.
Improving your Score
If you notice you have errors in your credit past, do not worry about your score too much. Know you can always improve your score by managing your debts in the future. As long as the problems are minor, simply work to rebuild your credit by making all payments on time and monitoring your results. If you have suffered a bigger credit problem as a company, you may consider credit counseling to get back on your feet.