Small business owners rarely have downtime to handle every administrative task, but some matters shouldn’t be ignored. One often overlooked area is your credit health. Business credit can impact your company’s reputation, financial health and the ability to secure business financing.
Building and monitoring your business’s credit may be more important than you think. Learn how to read and interpret a business credit report with this guide.
Access Your Business Credit Reports
The major business credit reporting bureaus include Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet. In order to get the most detailed picture of your credit health, it’s a good idea to periodically review your report from each major business credit bureau. Similar to personal credit reports, the information that each credit bureau collects can vary slightly. You can access your report directly from each bureau or use a third-party site like Nav or CreditSignal.
Ensure Your Company Profile Is Updated
One of the first sections on a business credit report is your company profile. Included here is a variety of basic business information like your industry, years in operation, business structure and more, depending on the bureau. You may also see self-reported financial or sales data in this section, if applicable. It’s a good idea to double-check that all information in this section is accurate and up to date. In order to update or add data, contact each business credit bureau directly.
Carefully Comb Through Each Section on Your Report
Payment information on your report can vary depending on the business credit bureau, as different companies and/or tradelines may not send data to every bureau. Although the major credit bureaus may collect and show different information, they collect the same types of financial data. In general, you should see the following information on your business credit report:
- General company information, including business ownership, number of employees and any subsidiaries, where applicable.
- Historical payment data, such as on-time, late and/or missing payments to vendors, tradelines and creditors. If your company has any collections filings, the information will be listed here as well.
- Operational and registrational data for your company.
- Credit accounts and account details, if available.
- Public documents and filings, including liens, UCC filings, judgments and related documents, where available.
- Business credit rating, which usually ranges from 0 to 100 points (depending on the business credit bureau and/or payment scoring metric).
It’s a good idea to look through each section carefully, and make note of any negative marks on your credit report. Once you know exactly what accounts or data are negatively impacting your score, you can take steps to correct or improve your credit rating. In general, paying vendors, creditors and other businesses you work with on time and in full can help improve your credit score over time.
Interpret Your Business Credit Score
Each business credit bureau uses the same type of information to generate a numerical score that predicts the likelihood of credit repayment, but they all use proprietary scoring methods. Because the information each bureau uses to calculate your score may vary, business credit ratings can fluctuate by bureau. As a result, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit health with each major business credit bureau and check your reports often. While personal credit scores tend to range from 300 to 850 points, business credit scores generally range from 0 to 100 points. Most business creditors use the following credit score definitions:
- 80 to 100 points: Low credit risk
- 50 to 79 points: Medium credit risk
- 1 to 49 points: High credit risk
In addition to the payment index score that ranges from 0 to 100, an Equifax credit report lists additional financial ratings. A Credit Risk Score, which ranges from 101 to 992, may also be available on your report. This metric measures the likelihood of payment delinquency, with a higher score representing a low-risk account and a lower score reflecting a higher probability of payment delinquency.
Another credit rating unique to an Equifax business credit report is a Business Failure Score, which ranges from 1,000 to 1,880 points. Similar to the Credit Risk Score, higher figures reflect a lower credit risk.
Dispute Any Incorrect Information
While credit reporting errors are somewhat rare, they may occur and can affect your business’s credit rating. If you notice any incorrect information or don’t recognize an account on your credit report from any bureau, take note of the error and contact the appropriate credit bureau to correct or remove the issue. To learn more about resolving a business credit reporting error, read this guide.