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aving adequate cash flow and working capital is a must for any small business. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to rely on a sudden boost in revenue or a fresh injection of investment funds every time resources run low. If your small business needs money to expand, cover overhead expenses, weather periods of slow sales, or overcome temporary cash flow problems, opening a business line of credit may be the solution you need.
Just like in the consumer credit market, business credit is built over time. With that said, building business credit fast is possible if you understand the fundamentals of how it works. By taking steps to improve your business credit today, you can help your business become eligible for loans, lines of credit, and other funding opportunities in the future. Read on to learn more about the basics of small business credit, including who needs it, why it’s important, and what concrete actions you can take to boost your company’s business credit profile.
What is small business credit?
The credit profile of your small business is a way for lenders, credit companies, and suppliers to gauge your company’s ability to manage debt and maintain financial health. Just like with personal credit, each business is assigned a business credit score that fluctuates depending on loan and credit card repayment history, business credit card usage, the business's size, and other relevant details.
As your credit score improves, your business will appear more financially responsible in the eyes of investors and lending institutions, which can help you get loans and credit line increases. A high business credit score will also make it more likely that vendors and suppliers will let your company make purchases on credit, providing your small business with greater financial flexibility. Unlike a personal credit score, which usually ranges from 300 to 850, a business credit score typically ranges from 1 to 100. Like a personal credit score, the higher your business credit score, the better.
Who needs an SMB line of credit?
While virtually any company can benefit from a small business line of credit, there are several circumstances in which having access to credit is extremely helpful. Startups with limited cash flow, for instance, may need a small business line of credit to help cover the cost of large vendor orders, office renovations, or payroll until their companies become profitable.
Your business can also tap into its line of credit to buy supplies you need to complete a specific job, which can be especially helpful in the construction and hospitality industries. Small businesses that regularly experience seasonal slow-downs can benefit from having a small business line of credit to fall back on until customer traffic ramps back up again.
Why is building business credit important?
Having a solid business credit score offers several advantages to any company but is especially helpful for startups or smaller businesses. If you’re looking for a way to improve your company’s financial flexibility, a business line of credit can help. Here are the primary reasons why every business should build its credit.
Increases access to loans
Businesses need capital to grow. Unfortunately, a good portion of small businesses struggle to find loans or investors. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, just over a quarter of American businesses surveyed were unable to find the funding needed to expand their business. By building your business credit, you can reduce your company’s risk profile in the eyes of lenders, allowing you to qualify for more substantial loans.
Improves credibility and reputation
With strong business credit, your company will improve its standing with lending institutions, vendors, and other local businesses. As your reputation improves, other organizations you do business with will be more likely to give you more time to pay invoices or even provide a small discount if you pay within a certain period. Both of these benefits can make managing your business finances much easier.
A good credit profile will also help your company increase its credibility in the industry, making other vendors and suppliers more eager to work with you. In this way, building credit can contribute to more favorable agreements with the B2B companies you work with.
Keeps personal and business expenses separate
Another key reason to build and use business credit is that it ensures your personal finances are always separate from company expenses. This is important because lenders will have difficulty getting a clear picture of how your business is performing if your private assets and business finances are blended together. By opening a business checking account and using a business credit card or business line of credit for expenses, you won’t have to worry about pouring over your personal bank statements to determine which deposits or withdrawals were business-related.
At Novo, we provide comprehensive small-business banking solutions to entrepreneurs just like yourself. Our free business checking provides zero-cost money transfers, ATM fee refunds, and perks available only to members. Best of all, your deposits will be FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 through our partner bank, Middlesex Federal Savings F.A., so you can rest assured your business’s finances are always secure.
Steps to improve your business credit
Don’t get discouraged if you have a low business credit score or no business credit history at all. Once you understand the basics, learning how to build business credit from scratch is a fairly easy thing to do. Follow these five steps to start improving your business credit today.
1. Apply for an EIN
The first step to establishing business credit is to apply for an Employer Identification Number or EIN. This number will register your business with the IRS and allow you to open a business bank account. If you haven’t already, you’ll also want to ensure your business is registered with the relevant state or local agencies. The process for registering a business varies from place to place, so be sure to check local laws for guidance.
2. Use a business credit card
After you receive your EIN, you’re ready to open a business bank account and apply for a business credit card. As you create transaction history on your business credit card and pay down the balance, your business credit score will begin to increase. Remember, how you use your business credit card can impact your score. For instance, using more than 30% of your available credit or maintaining a debt balance for extended periods can damage your business credit profile.
3. Always pay bills on time
If you want to build business credit fast, you need to pay all bills and debt obligations in a timely manner. Any missed or late payments will negatively affect your credit profile, and this includes accounts payable, loan repayments, or regular expenses such as monthly rent. Bear in mind that if you have a net 30 credit account with vendors or suppliers, many of them will report transactions to credit agencies. Paying all invoices on time will help keep your business credit score in good shape.
4. Apply for a D-U-N-S Number
The next important step to building business credit is applying for a D-U-N-S Number through the company Dun & Bradstreet. This nine-digit number provides partners, vendors, and lenders with access to a basic summary of your company’s financial stability. With a D-U-N-S Number, your business will be more likely to qualify for loans, attract investors, and foster closer relationships with vendors, suppliers, and partners.
5. Open credit accounts with suppliers and vendors
Discuss opening net accounts with your vendors or suppliers. Developing a consistent payment history with them on credit will help boost your business credit profile. If your current supplier or vendor doesn’t report transactions to credit agencies, consider switching to an alternative business that does.
You may also want to consider opening credit lines with other businesses you work closely with. For example, apply for a store credit card at a local hardware outlet if you’re in the construction business. Creating multiple credit accounts and paying down the balance on each will help reduce the amount of time it takes to improve your business credit score.
Building and maintaining good business credit is one of the best ways to ensure the continued success of your company. Businesses with a strong credit profile have an easier time acquiring loans, attracting more partners, and earning a good reputation. While building business credit can take time, following the steps provided in this article will go a long way toward accelerating the process.
If you’re seeking to improve your business's credit profile, opening a business banking account is an excellent place to start. At Novo, we provide financial solutions to help your business thrive, from free business checking to flexible, low-interest funding options. We also provide helpful integrations to streamline invoicing, payment processing, and payroll. To get started, sign up with Novo today.
Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.
Merchant Cash Advance products and services are offered by Novo Funding LLC (“Novo Funding”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Novo. Merchant Cash Advances require a Novo checking account.
Novo is a fintech, not a bank. Banking services provided by Middlesex Federal Savings, F.A.: Member FDIC.
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