How To Improve Your Business Credit Rating
Posted on 14th February 2017 at 12:37
Access to finance is vital for any business to succeed and thrive. From credit lines and overdrafts to smooth out cash flow fluctuations, through to loans for business investment purposes, you'll need to maintain a good business credit rating to get the right products at the right prices. Thankfully, there are easy steps to take.
1. Keep an eye on your credit report
Compiled by credit reference agencies, credit reports present information that is available about your business in the public domain. It essentially provides a recommendation into your creditworthiness to lenders. You can access online and bespoke commercial reports quickly and easily at Creditreform.co.uk. Once you have a copy, check it carefully for errors and review it regularly to review any issues head on.
2. Correcting mistakes
If you spot something on your business credit report that you believe is an error, raise a dispute with the credit agency. They may ask you to provide documentation copies to prove the claim, but it's important that you do so, so that your creditworthiness isn't damaged. Remember, a low rating means access to fewer financial products at less attractive rates.
3. Avoid CCJs
County Court Judgements won't appear on your record if you settled the outstanding claim amount within the 28-day limit. If you repaid at a later date, get a confirmation letter from the party that filed the judgement and send a copy to the County Court in order to close the matter fully. Ask them to give you a certificate of cancellation. This will incur a fee, but once received, the CCJ will show as satisfied on your record. Unpaid CCJs can show up for six years.
4. Keep your records in order
If you operate as a limited company, your credit report will be compiled using information primarily filed at Companies House. Makes sure you update changes and file regularly. Most lenders won't touch a business who is incorporated but yet to file their accounts. Be sure to meet filing deadlines too - late filing is a red flag to lenders that the business is experiencing financial difficulty, whether or not that is the case!
5. Keep your trading record healthy
Partnerships and firms are assessed differently because of principal liability. To maintain good creditworthiness, in this case, keep good supplier relationships and a healthy trading record. This will increase your access to finance.
6. Keep information on hand
Equally, if your business isn't registered at Companies House (e.g. you aren't a limited company), then you'll need to keep details of your trading figures and interim figures to hand for when suppliers request the details. You can also send it proactively to credit reference agencies for their records.
7. Remember your own personal finances
Remember that lenders may also review your personal creditworthiness, so make sure you manage your own finances as carefully as those of your business. Lenders are very wary of lending to a business if they think funds are being used to clear personal debt.
8. Chase late payers
If customers owe you money, then make sure you chase it for payment. Have a robust process in place to manage non-payments and act quickly if you are concerned. Creditreform offers debt collection and litigation services, and these are a valuable service if you believe the customer has no intention of paying.
9. Make sure you pay on time!
Always be timely when paying your own suppliers. It is good business practice and also good for your credit record. Automate payments as far as possible for ease, using direct debits and standing orders for recurring payments.
10. Don't take out too many loans
It sounds obvious, of course, but many businesses make the mistake of applying for too much credit. Repeated applications and, in particular, rejected applications are a warning sign for lenders who need to see that the business is solvent and able to operate successfully without constant finance injections. So, get your financial house in order before borrowing for the next project - it could mean all the difference between an affordable loan and no loan at all!
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