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African American business colleagues working together on a laptop.

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You did it. You took an idea and masterfully wove it into a stream of income. You may not have started from the bottom, but either way, you’re here—an entrepreneur. You have a slamming (insert consulting service, store, clothing line, etc…) but there’s just one thing: You’re probably in need of an upgrade, and that will take time and money.

Developing a strong business plan is a great way to show banks your business’ past successes and future trajectory. Financial institutions offer programs to help finance small business expansion, if the numbers are right. Wells Fargo Works for Small Business has an online portal full of resources to help you scale your business and reach your goals. It even has a Business Credit Finder that helps you find financing options tailored to your needs. Overall, the best way to strengthen your chances of qualifying for a cash infusion is to couple a solid plan with a stellar business credit report, which is separate from the entrepreneur’s personal credit history.

Arnita Johnson, founder of the popular blog LuxuriousCredit.com and author of The Ultimate Guide to Business Credit, advises owners to treat their company’s credit with as much diligence as their own. “The highest rating your business can achieve is a Paydex Score of 100,” says Johnson. “A higher rating increases your eligibility for credit lines and loans from lenders, which can be used to infuse resources into the company.”

Ready to become a high scorer? Here are the five musts to increase your business’ credit rating.

1. You MUST Become an Entity. Make sure that you incorporate your business and obtain a tax identification number (EIN) to distinguish your brand as its own establishment. This allows you to legally operate as a company. Next, register your biz with business credit tracking agencies, such as Dun & Bradstreet or Experian, to ensure that banks can find your credit history.

2. You MUST Get Serious About Banking. Separate your personal and business finances immediately. Use your EIN to open up a checking account that is solely for the business. This account will be used to establish revenue and show proof of cash flow to potential lenders.

3. You MUST Have Financial References. Start developing your business’s credit history before borrowing from lenders by setting up “net 30 and net 60 accounts.” These are short-term lines of credit that you establish with vendors your company would naturally do business with that must be paid within a certain time frame. These vendors report back to business credit reporting agencies and help lenders determine your credit worthiness.

4. You MUST Spread the Word. Set up your business’ profile with the nationwide Directory Assistance 411 and research your industry to determine additional national or local registries that your company should be listed on. This may help prospective customers find your business and services, potentially increasing your business’s profits- profits which factor in a lender decision process.

5. You MUST Make Your Website Pretty. Invest in a modern and professional website — and don’t forget to get a company email address with a professional domain name. Both of these seemingly superficial details go a long way when lenders are researching your brand to determine how invested you are in your business. A polished site exudes excellence, professionalism, and efficiency — all qualities lenders want in an entity when they are considering building a professional relationship.

SOURCE: Luxurious Credit, Wells Fargo

Information and views provided by Wells Fargo is general in nature for your consideration and are not legal, tax, or investment advice. Wells Fargo makes no warranties as to accuracy or completeness of information, including but not limited to information provided by third parties, does not endorse any non-Wells Fargo companies, products, or services described here, and takes no liability for your use of this information. Information and suggestions regarding business risk management and safeguards do not necessarily represent Wells Fargo’s business practices or experience. Please contact your own legal, tax, or financial advisors regarding your specific business needs before taking any action based upon this information.

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