8 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About Credit
By Alex Day
Getting a business off the ground requires capital. One of the most often used means of funding an early stage business is with credit. Credit is probably the easiest way to access capital for your business. Below are some of the things that every entrepreneur should know about credit.
1. Know your credit score. If you have a realistic shot at getting credit to fund your business, you need to know your credit score. There are numerous different algorithms for how credit scores are calculated. Essentially the different items that are taken into consideration are:
- How much credit you have access to- How many credit cards and lines of credit?
- How much credit you are using- How close are you to the limits on your credit cards?
- Your payment history- Do you pay on time or have you defaulted?
This is an oversimplification, but these are essentially the things that impact your score. If you have a bankruptcy or judgments against you, these items can have a major detrimental impact on your score.
2. Know the difference between your "credit report" and your credit score. The federal government passed a law that you are entitled to your credit report once a year, or any time you have been declined credit. The credit reporting companies have not made it easy to access these free reports, and even when you do, they do not come with the credit score. This is something that is calculated differently by different groups. So you can get a free credit report, but you can NOT get a free credit score.
3. Know your score from the three main credit reporting agencies. Although many different groups may generate their own method for calculating a credit score for you from your credit report, you should know your score from Experian, Transunion and Equifax. These are the three main credit reporting agencies and you should know your scores from them. If there are major discrepancies between these, then there is probably a mistake somewhere. Also keep in mind that most of these sites automatically sign you up for monthly credit monitoring (which I believe is worth the money), and you usually have to opt out or you will be charged a monthly fee to get the score and other related data each month.
4. You can improve your credit score. Once you understand the science behind how credit scores are calculated you can take steps to improve your score. There are some things that are counter intuitive about your credit score. For instance if you get a credit card paid down and then cancel it, this can actually negatively impact your score. That is because part of the factor in your score is the ratio of the amount of revolving credit you have available to the amount you have used. So if you have 3 credit cards maxed out, you pay one off, but keep it open, it has positively impacted your score. If you pay it off and then close it, so that the amount of available credit you have available goes down, it can decrease your credit score, even though you paid off that big credit card.
5. Know the difference between secured debt and unsecured debt. Credit cards are unsecured debt. If you fail to pay them, it is... continue reading