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7 Important Steps That Will Improve My Business Credit

improve business credit steps

Capital is essential for any business, but sometimes our commercial credit becomes unhealthy. Unfortunately, when a commercial credit rating isn’t perfectly clean, sourcing a small business working capital loan or another form of finance isn’t always straightforward. You might be asking yourself, “So what exactly can I do to improve my business credit rating?”

Every savvy entrepreneur must smooth the peaks and troughs of revenue to keep up with payroll and inventory, while also financing growth toward future success. For most enterprises, this means accessing business funding from time to time rather than relying on reserves, whether this credit is taken through mainstream banks or alternative finance.

     Did you know? Factoring funding is NOT based on your credit rating. Learn now.    

To increase your chances of getting credit at an affordable rate, it pays to take steps to improve your business credit — and it’s simpler than you might think. Here’s what to do.

1. Get Your Books in Order

If you’re looking to obtain a new line of credit in the near future, it’s important to first assess your situation and then proceed with a little caution. Each credit application you make will be recorded on your file, and multiple rejections will count against your score.

Before applying for any funding, spend some time getting your finances into good order, researching your options, and finding a credit source that’s likely to approve your application.

2. Separate Your Business Identity

When building your business credit rating, it’s essential to establish a business credit identity distinct from your personal rating.

If you’ve not already incorporated your business, then consider doing so, and also obtain a federal tax ID number (EIN in the U.S. or a BN in Canada) or equivalent registration. Make sure all your bank accounts and credit cards are in your business’s legal name, and that you don’t use any personal accounts for business purposes.

3. Build Your Profile

The three major business credit reference agencies keep their own files, and it’s important to ensure your profile with each is complete and accurate. Check that ExperianEquifax and Dun & Bradstreet all hold the correct details about your business, and that all your active trade lines are recorded on your file.

If you have any longstanding credit accounts with suppliers, add them as references on your profile. Even if they don’t actively report to the agencies, your good records with them will be taken into account. Going forward, regularly check your file for any errors, omissions or signs of unknown activity.

4. Arrange Credit With Suppliers

Each bill you pay on time will give a small boost to your business’s credit score, and you can increase this effect by paying bills early whenever possible. Even better, if you establish credit lines with your suppliers and stick to the terms, each transaction will add a positive to your credit profile.

5. Avoid Signals of Financial Distress

As well as being conscientious about paying bills promptly, you should avoid showing any signs of financial distress that could lessen your creditworthiness. Filing accounts and paying taxes on time will give your rating a boost, while paying down debts and avoiding using credit for routine expenses will send signals of stability.

Related: How to get start-up financing without a bank loan.

6. Cut Back on Credit Usage

Whenever you’re looking to obtain a major new line of finance, you should aim to present a picture of clean credit activity within your current circumstances. Ideally, your ongoing level of credit utilization should be no more than 30% on each account your business holds. Try and avoid unnecessary spending on credit or building up balances. You should also pay down what you can — and clear your borrowing each month when you do spend on an account.

7. Consolidate Accounts

If you have credit card accounts with zero balances, it may seem a logical choice to close them down and simplify your business’s financial situation. However, if you want to boost your credit rating, the smarter choice is to keep these accounts active so long as they’re in good standing.

Closing an established, zero-balance account will remove positive history from your file, worsening your rating. Instead, take the opportunity to balance any debts across multiple accounts, so that each has no more than the all-important 30% utilization of its credit limit.

Few businesses can be totally self-sufficient. However, accessing business funding doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Taking a little time to improve your business credit rating will make obtaining commercial credit easier and more cost-effective, leaving you free to concentrate on driving your business forward.

Recent funding illustration

Recent Fundings – February 2018

Smiling businessman

6 Body Language Mistakes You Might be Making & How to Fix Them

Posture Perfect: Are you unconsciously sending prospects the wrong message? Here’s how fixing your body language mistakes can help you win more opportunities.

Body Language Mistakes

As salespeople, we often focus on our pitch and the carefully selected words we use when speaking with prospects, but what about our body language? Are we making major body language mistakes that are holding us back from closing more deals?

55% of effective communication comes down to body language mistakes

A famous study by UCLA Professor Albert H. Mehrabian found that only 7 per cent of effective communication actually comes down to the words we say. 38 per cent comes from the tone of our voices, and another 55 per cent depends on our body language.

How we stand, where our eyes look, our hand gestures and even subtle movements can all make a difference in the interpretation of our sales pitches. But the most effective communicators will combine all three parts: the words spoken, the tone of voice and the body language.

Related: Do you have this powerful leadership skill?

The professional sales training team at Sales Grail explains that a sales person’s body language can immediately spark customer engagement. “What we mean by posture is not a cocky guy with his feet up on his desk — this is just rude and it suggests a lack of humility in one’s leadership and sales approach. Rather, by posture, we mean one of openness and confidence.”

When genuine, that confidence can help you develop a stronger connection with the prospect, as they describe. “When we’re really behind something, we become an amazing combination of characteristics. We’re relaxed, yet passionate. We’re calm, yet excited. We’re understanding, yet persistent.”

Here are six body language mistakes you might be making, and how you can turn your visual communication and body language into a sales secret weapon.

Mistake 1: Slouching — especially while on the phone

You’ve likely heard that sitting is the new smoking, but has that made you get out of your chair more? At the very least, have you sat up a little straighter when seated? This is one of those body language mistakes that we’re likely all guilty of doing.

“Research has shown that sitting in a slouched position can send “sad signals” to your brain. You are more likely to produce cortisol, a stress hormone, and experience negative thoughts when you slouch. Slouching also can make you feel disempowered and weak compared to the people you’re interacting with – whether in person, on the phone, or even over email.” – Tech.co

Mistake 2: Too little (or too much) eye contact

“It’s good to maintain eye contact 70% to 80% of the time. Any more and you might appear threatening, any less and you may appear uncomfortable or disinterested.

Good eye contact exudes confidence, engagement and concern. Plus, it’ll help you read your customers’ emotions and body language.” – Customer Experience Insight

Mistake 3: Never “power posing” before meetings

“Breakthrough research from Professor Amy Cuddy at Harvard Business School…proves that body language and body positioning directly impact self-confidence and feelings of power. … Professor Cuddy’s research indicates that a salesperson (or anyone about to go into a stressful situation) should assume a high power pose for at least two minutes. Rather than hunch over an iPhone, a salesperson should find a private place to spread their arms and pull their shoulders back.” – Fast Company

Mistake 4: Dressing to blend in, not to fit in

“First impressions get set in stone very quickly. And, like it or not, the way you look is the most important factor in shaping those first and lasting impressions.

“The key is to always dress well enough to fit in with the top people you’re calling on, yet never to blend in with the wallpaper. Think of your clothes as the way you package yourself. Always dress in a way that creates the maximum positive impact on the people you want most to impress – your customers.” – Selling Power

Mistake 5: Talking too much with your hands

This isn’t to say that you should completely stop hand gestures. They are an important part of getting your message across and creating dynamism and charisma in your communication. But overdoing your hand movements can be a distracting body language mistake that can have an undesired effect.

“Avoid chopping gestures … Whole arm karate chop gestures can psychologically cut up the space between you and your interview in an aggressive way … Pointing is often perceived as an aggressive motion and in some cultures is considered incredibly rude. … Any fast, repeated or aggressive hand gestures should be kept to a minimum. … [Instead] you should appear open and approachable, which means your hands should be in front of you and ready to gesture naturally.” – Forbes

Mistake 6: Work the room

Whether it’s a presentation, speech or in-person sales call, making strategic physical moves could draw attention to the right discussion points.

“To bring movement to your speech, use the physical space you have available and walk it. For example, if you’re presenting three points, talk about point A when you’re at your first position; then move out 2 or 3 steps and talk about point B; this way, a movement that includes space will accompany your speech.” – HubSpot

 

Next: Get these 7 new school digital marketing tips to help grow your business.

A seating soldjer

Defense Products & Services Group USA

Engineering success takes more than know-how

After many years working as a military engineer in the US, Ken Fincher came up with an idea that he knew might be successful not only as a business venture, but also as a way to save lives on the battlefield.

Ken’s revolutionary tow bar system—designed to help move tanks, personnel carriers or other large vehicles that break down or are damaged in combat—was half the weight and twice as strong as previous towing systems, and could be set up 50 times faster by 75% fewer people. This meant putting fewer people at risk and getting them out of danger much more quickly.

After working on the design for years, having molds made, speaking with the US and Canadian militaries and putting the product through field testing, the company started by Ken and his wife—Defense Products & Services Group USA (DPSG USA)—had secured a manufacturer and was ready to begin production. The problem? The manufacturer required 30% up front to build the product.

“Our process represented a genuine breakthrough in design and production that would save lives in combat. Tow bars typically take 24 weeks to make; we’ve got it down to roughly 16 to 18 weeks to build a multi-piece tow bar whose individual sections can be lifted by one person. We needed to get this product in the hands of the military, but the small business loan we were trying to acquire fell through. That’s when our loan broker introduced us to Liquid Capital.”

~ Ken Fincher, President, Defense Product Services Group USA Inc.

With factoring, working capital issues don’t limit success

Initially, DPSG USA took out several high interest loans to finance upfront product development costs, but once multiple contracts were in place, that approach didn’t make fiscal sense. When DPSG USA’s other loan options proved a dead end, Liquid Capital was able to provide a $55,000 merchant cash advance to settle some immediate financial requirements (a deal that went beyond Liquid Capital’s usual support process), then a traditional A/R factoring solution that could provide the longer-term assistance DPSG USA needed.

Currently, DPSG USA’s product manufacturer is based in Canada, and its major sales contract is for $5 million with the Canadian military. The military’s payment terms are 30 to 45 days, but DPSG USA needs to place its manufacturing orders 30 days in advance due the time it takes to make the product. There are also penalties for not delivering to the military on time—not to mention the risk of losing future business.

By factoring its receivables with Liquid Capital, DPSG USA has access to a $2 million credit facility on which it withdraws approximately $880,000 per month to pay any advance operating costs, and Liquid Capital doesn’t require payment until the receivables are paid by DPSG USA’s client. This fills DPSG USA’s financing gap perfectly, cash-flow is stabilized and it doesn’t require high-interest loans to keep the production/sales process moving smoothly.

“Liquid Capital has top-notch customer service. They’re not only helpful and offer great advice, they’re also highly patient as they understand the unexpected nature of contracts. This is the first time we’ve been involved in a factoring relationship, but our experience has been an excellent one. We’re really pleased with the level of professionalism we’ve received.”

~ Ken Fincher, President, Defense Product Services Group USA Inc.

Reaping both expected and unanticipated benefits

On top of the core benefits factoring delivers around cash flow and working capital, DPSG USA has realized some less anticipated advantages. Prior to working with Liquid Capital, DPSG USA—a US-based company—had to convert the money it was paid by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) from Canadian to US dollars in order to run it through its bank, then back to Canadian dollars to pay its manufacturing contractor. With Liquid Capital involved, payments are received from the DND and made to the contractor directly, within Canada, allowing DPSG USA to totally eliminate the payment of significant transfer fees.

“It was a big help that Liquid Capital had a relationship with both the Canadian and US governments, as well as experience doing military contracts. That was a huge credibility factor and sales point for us. When I told Liquid Capital that the Canadian government expected us to be paid in a certain way, they were easily able to accommodate those needs.”

~ Ken Fincher, President, Defense Product Services Group USA Inc.

Future prospects look strong with factoring support

DPSG USA is looking forward to expanding its military contracts in Canada, the US and internationally. Already, three more contracts for the Canadian military are in the offing, and the fact that DPSG USA can count on Liquid Capital to help fund upfront costs is a huge boon to its confidence.

For their part, Liquid Capital understands that DPSG USA will eventually qualify for a traditional banking relationship, but they understand that this evolution is part of the nature of the alternative financing environment. After all, the ultimate aim is to enable companies to move on because Liquid Capital has helped put them on the road to success.

“With financing, it’s important to shop around, do your research and make sure you understand the product. The solution must be transparent and deliver on its promise, and we honestly didn’t see anything that was as easy to understand as what Liquid Capital offered. There’s so much confusing—sometimes misleading—information out there; when you come across a company that’s telling the truth with no hidden items, it’s such a big help. It really gave us a comfort level we didn’t have with other providers.”

~ Ken Fincher, President, Defense Product Services Group USA Inc.

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Can business failure make you successful?

Business failure leads to success

No one enjoys failing. When you’ve poured your heart and soul into an effort that crashes and burns, the pain can be excruciating. Yet business failure is a part of running a company at one point or another. So, should you find yourself down and out, focus on the upside. It will help you get back on track quickly, and with newfound strength.

Here are five reasons to dust yourself off and considering any failure a blessing in disguise.

1. It’s an education

Thomas Edison made 1,000 attempts at the light bulb before succeeding. You could say he had 1,000 failures, but with each attempt he learned something more. Following a “failure,” you’re better educated, better experienced and, hopefully, a bit wiser.

The same mindset can be seen in modern business, with much success. For example, at NerdWallet, a company offering tools and advice for managing personal financial decisions, failure is celebrated publicly on the “Fail Wall,” a space covered with Post-it notes memorializing the lessons learned.

Related: Even out the ups and downs of running your business.

2. It can improve investment opportunities

In Entrepreneur.com’s Celebrating Failure article, Jake Gibson notes one big reason to rejoice: “Many founders of failed companies find it easier to raise money for their second company because investors know they are buying experience and the lessons learned from those failed endeavors.”

Conducting a thorough post-mortem is on many a business guru’s short list of things to do following a setback. Collect all the insights and data you can. Learn where the missteps occurred — and how they can be avoided the next time.

3. It’s a bonding experience

When we fail, we often do it in the company of partners, colleagues and employees. They are all affected, and may suffer as much as we do. Let these people know that you value them and care about them. Don’t engage in blaming or any other form of divisiveness.

Focus on moving forward as a team. The shared experience can be transformative, providing for you to emerge from the setback as a stronger, more committed organization. 

4. It provides a determined focus

Jodi Goldstein, managing director of the Harvard Innovation Labs, is one of many experts advising that you not dwell on the past as you pick up the pieces following a failure.

“Don’t waste energy by constantly thinking about how you could have avoided the situation that you’re currently in. If you decide to continue with the venture, this means working to maintain high levels of morale amongst your team, celebrating each win that you achieve as you battle your way back into business.

“If you ultimately decide that you cannot, or don’t want to continue with your startup, it means taking the lessons that you learned to whatever you might do next, while not dwelling on what could have been.”

5. It’s never the end

Finally, remember that whenever you fail, you’re in good company. The most successful people on the planet have all been failures at one time or another. Consider your low point as merely the prologue to your next chapter.

 

Up next: Do you have the ultimate entrepreneur mindset?