Building a business credit score is essential for every small business. According to a survey done by Manta in 2016, 72% of small business owners do not even know their credit score. Many are not even aware they have a separate business credit score.
Borrowing money to grow your business is only one reason to focus on building your business credit score; the other is that without a strong credit score, you may miss out on business opportunities. Your credit score determines whether others decide to do business with you or to extend you credit, especially for large projects.
Make sure you have a business credit file started, and start building your credit score now. Your business credit file uses your federal employer identification number (EIN). If you have multiple businesses, each has a separate EIN and credit file.
3 Major Business Credit Reporting Agencies
Many people think of these three as the only business credit bureaus: Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), Experian and Equifax. They are the best known, but definitely not the only important business credit reporting agencies.
Each of them uses a different mix of information drawn from diverse sources and each generates different scores. Note that each agency has multitudes of different reports with different names and scales.
They also each have their own scoring systems and collect different types of data. While Experian and Equifax also handle consumer credit reports, Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) is business only.
1. Dun & Bradstreet (D&B)
Even if you already have a business credit file started, it is important to register for your D-U-N-S number. Although Dun & Bradstreet’s D-U-N-S (Data Universal Numbering System) Number is proprietary to them, it is widely used by federal and commercial entities.
D&B focuses primarily on the timeliness of how your business pays vendors and suppliers to generate their Dun & Bradstreet PAYDEX score. Scored from 0-100, businesses have both a D&B PAYDEX score and a risk category or ranking. You can request a copy of your score using D&B’s iUpdate.
Many lenders including banks use the D&B PAYDEX report to determine whether they will grant you a loan and what the interest rate they charge will be. It is also pulled by some other credit reporting agencies as part of their score.
According to the SBA, “Dun & Bradstreet states 90% of the Fortune 500, and companies of every size around the world, rely on their data, insights and analytics to streamline operations, manage risk, improve targeting, find quality leads, boost customer relationships and — most important of all — grow.”
The D&B Viability Rating includes a viability score of 1-9, a portfolio comparison of 1-9, a data depth indicator of A-M and a company profile score qualifier of A-Z.
Their Delinquency Predictor Score of 101-670 predicts whether a business is likely to pay slowly or not at all. These scores are further broken down into Delinquency Predictor Risk Classes of 1-5. The lower the numbers, the higher the risk.
They also generate a Financial Stress Score in the range of 1,001 to 1,875 which other businesses use to evaluate how likely your business is to be unable to pay outstanding invoices and debts or fail in the next twelve months.
Experian collects information from public and private sources including legal fillings, credit obligations, and marketing databases.
Unlike their primary competitors, they calculate only one business credit score between 0-100 where a higher score is best. Their new Financial Stability Risk Rating of 1-5 is the opposite, where a higher score equals more risk.
They offer many reports and subscription plans. Their Experian Intelliscore PlusSM score ranges from 0-100. By analyzing 800+ variables, they claim they can predict the likelihood of serious credit delinquency in the next 12 months.
Your Experian score is useful for evaluating small businesses that rely more heavily on vendor terms than bank loans. To achieve a low-risk rating a business has to have an excellent credit history over a long period of time.
- Business Delinquency Score of 101-662
- Business Credit Risk Score between 101-992
- Business Failure Risk Score of 1,000-1,880
Businesses are listed with Equifax when a leasing company, supplier, bank or other lender you do business with that your business has a relationship with furnishes your company information to them or the SBFE.
FICO LiquidCredit Small Business Scoring Service? (FICO SBSS)
Just as FICO provides consumer credit scores that are widely used, they now also have a small business scoring service. FICO business credit scores pull from the other business credit systems in an order customized and weighted by each bank.
FICO LiquidCredit Small Business Scoring Service? (FICO SBSS) combines both your personal and business credit files into one score of 0-300 where a higher score is better. This is now widely used by banks and the SBA for pre-screening loan applicants.
Small business owners must maintain good credit ratings both personally and for business to keep this score high and also because lenders will look at both.
15 Additional Business Credit Bureaus
The three credit reporting bureaus mentioned above and FICO are not the only credit bureaus for businesses. There are fifteen additional business credit bureaus serving particular niches:
1. Ansonia — favored by construction trades; partners with Tarnell to share data.
2. Tarnell — provides deep financial insights on suppliers of industrial material and equipment and the plastics industry.
3. Lumbermen Credit Reporting Group — uses personal and business data to provide reports to commercial mercantile and construction.
4. Cortera — specializing in the transportation industry.
5. Seafax — credit bureau for the food industry.
6. Factual Data FDInsight — offers the mortgage industry flood zone determinations, merged credit reports, and data verification services.
7. Lexis-Nexix | Accurint — partnership between Lexis-Nexis and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) offering reports similar to Business Experian.
8. ClientChecker — provides feedback between members on small businesses, freelancers, and contractors.
9. Credit.net — database lists 15.5 million U.S. and Canadian companies including very small businesses.
10. Global Credit Services — offers B2B trade payment information on U.S. and Canadian companies.
11. Creditsafe — collects trade data on invoice payments.
12. Paynet — used by commercial finance lenders and banks to obtain credit reports and scores.
13. LexisNexis Accurint — uses public data to calculate risk scores, even on businesses that have not built credit files.
14. National Association of Credit Management (NACM) — members of NACM share their credit data with other members.
15. ChexSystems — used by banks to determine whether to allow a business to open checking accounts.
Review these additional business credit bureaus to determine if any apply to your business.
Review Your Business Credit Scores Regularly
As a small business owner, work to keep both your business and consumer credit scores as high as possible. Pull regular reports and review them for errors. Pay promptly and stay on top of your finances to improve your scores. The success of your business depends upon it.
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