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THE BASICS OF ESTABLISHING FUNDABILITY FOR YOUR BUSINESS

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THE BASICS OF ESTABLISHING FUNDABILITY FOR YOUR BUSINESS TO BUILD BUSINESS CREDIT

Fundability is the ability of your business to get funding from the lending system, and it is crucial for sustaining and expanding your business. Something as simple as the name of your business can impact its ability to receive funding, especially for high-risk industries, which include trucking/transportation, auto sales, restaurants (due to high failure rate), pawn shops, liquor stores, casinos, and financial services such as real estate, mortgage, and credit. For example, if you include “trucking” in the name, it could cause you to undergo more underwriting scrutiny when applying for business credit or loans. It may even result in you not getting approval at all. Therefore, it is important to choose the name of your business carefully.

change the business name

If you change the business name, be sure to update it on everything: the incorporation documents; licenses; and all records with credit reporting agencies. Keep track of where the business name is listed, because if you do not change it everywhere and a name discrepancy is detected by a lender, it will be construed as fraudulent, and your application will automatically be declined.

NAICS Code

Every business has a NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code which Is used by federal statistical agencies to classify businesses and collect data. You as the business owner choose the applicable code for your business from a list NAICS provides. Lenders use NAICS codes to determine if your business is in a high-risk industry, and they can deny credit based upon the NAICS code. Some codes even generate immediate denials, so it is important to choose the code wisely. If two or more codes could identify your business, choose the one associated with the least risk. This is not considered fraudulent, deceptive, or illegal. If, however, you cannot use a less risky NAICS code, you can still get funding via alternative lending, lenders who are familiar with your industry, and/or other funding programs such as angel investing and crowdfunding.

establish a business entity

You must establish a business entity (such as corporation, LLC, etc.) to get business credit or financing. Ensure the business entity is set up in the same state as your business address. A corporation or LLC makes the business a separate legal entity and separates you from the business, thereby giving your business more credibility while reducing your liability.

Setting up your business

Setting up your business with the business credit reporting agencies is a must. The biggest credit reporting agency is Dun & Bradstreet, so it is prudent to start there by getting a DUNS number from their site. While a DUNS number is not necessary, it can increase fundability. Begin building business credit by opening accounts with vendors, then retail store credit, then fleet credit cards, and finally cash credit cards like Visa and Mastercard. This will maximize fundability.

EIN (Federal Tax Number)

The business must also have an EIN (Federal Tax Number), which identifies your business much like a social security number identifies an individual. The EIN is used to open a business bank account and build a business credit profile. Make sure all vendors, banks, and agencies have the correct EIN for your business.

proper address

It is important for the business to have a proper address. The best choice for an address is a real, retail “brick and mortar” building with a physical, deliverable address. As an alternative, a virtual address can be used; this runs about $200/month if you can afford it. If you have businesses in different states, you can use the same virtual address for each. A last resort would be to use a home address or UPS box. Try to refrain from using a home address, a post office box, or a UPS box, because some lenders will not issue approvals for funding or credit if your business is tied to one of these.

business telephone number and email

The business telephone number must be toll-free and listed with 411 in order to ensure credit approvals from most lenders. If you use a personal home or cell line, it could cause your business to be flagged as unestablished. Do an inquiry to see if you are listed, and ensure the information is correct. If there is no record, you can get listed on ListYourself.net. This will cost around $30/month.

Your business must have a website and email address on the same domain as the website. To maximize fundability, use a professional email address in the format of name@site.com which usually comes with a website domain provider like GoDaddy. Not only does it look professional, but it also adds to your chances of obtaining credit approval. DO NOT use Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, or Hotmail for the email address. Your website should include your contact and ownership information, a list of the products and/or services offered by your business, and prices (or links to pricing information).

business license and records

A proper business license is crucial for your corporation. The license address should match everything else. Contact state, county, and city government offices to determine if there are any required licenses/permits for your business type. Having a business license builds business credibility, resulting in more customers, and consequently, more revenue.

Keeping all records, including those online, consistent will also increase fundability for your business. Lenders, credit issuers, and business credit reporting agencies want to see matching records. Inaccuracies in your data will cause creditors to assume the application is fraudulent. This not only leads to credit denials, but also fraud investigations. Your data should be the same on all of these: your website, Yelp, etc.; IRS records; business records with Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax; business licenses; and incorporation documents. Keep track of data consistency by making a list of each place your business has a listing and establishing a reminder to check the data at least once every 90 days to ensure consistency. This can also be accomplished by utilizing data management tools like Yext.com and ChatMeter.com. It is also helpful to maintain a list in Excel of all of the applications you submit, regardless of outcome.

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Credit providers and lenders

Credit providers and lenders take several things into consideration when they look at a business credit application. They want proof of ability to pay, such as assets (i.e., collateral, inventory) or predictable future assets (i.e., receivables). If you cannot prove this, they will rely on your personal credit scores. Your business plan will enable credit providers/lenders to determine if you take your business seriously and if you intend to be in business for the long run. Your application must contain no inaccuracies or fraudulent information, and business info must match that on the secretary of state, etc. If fraud is suspected, they will investigate, which will delay or destroy your chances of approval.

Fundability

Following these steps to create fundability not also ensures you get vital business credit and funding; it also helps your business in several ways. A proper business address can satisfy zoning and/or other legal requirements, proper licensing will help your business avoid fines, and a professional website and email address will attract customers who might otherwise be wary.