Many people believe that owning a successful business is the ultimate American dream. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), over 600,000 new businesses are started each year in this country alone. While this number is impressive, unfortunately, statistics show that over 50% of new businesses are doomed to fail in the first year, and only 20% will survive to year four. Beating the odds and making the dream of owning a successful business become a reality takes careful planning, execution, and foresight about the future needs of the business.
One of the most common mistakes that can lead to a failed business is having insufficient capital or operating funds. While many business owners are prepared to cover the costs associated with starting their business, many are unprepared to cover the unexpected costs associated with actually staying in business. Unfortunately, without taking the necessary steps required to apply for business credit, many of these business owners are forced to close their businesses before they even have a fair chance to succeed.
One reason why some business owners fail to establish business credit early on is because they are fortunate to be able to borrow money for the business from a family member or friend. Take Sean for example. When Sean and his partner started a business developing computer software, Sean would often take out short-term business loans from his grandmother. Sean’s partner suggested establishing a line of credit at the bank that they could borrow against and pay off periodically as a way to establish positive business credit. However, Sean was very financially conservative and did not want to incur the expense of the interest rates and fees associated with such loans. Sadly, when Sean’s grandmother passed away and her estate was divided among her children and grandchildren, Sean’s funding source disappeared. The next time Sean’s company needed funds to finance a new project, they were unable to secure funding from a commercial lender because they had failed to establish a positive business credit history.
Another reason why business owners often fail to take the necessary steps to establish business credit is they think they won’t need to borrow any money. Enthusiastic entrepreneurs often overestimate the revenue that will be generated from sales during the first year, failing to take into consideration the fact that it can take a year or two to establish a business and actually generate significant income. Take the Rodriguez brothers for example. They had always dreamed of opening a restaurant in their neighborhood where they could serve their mother’s delicious Mexican dishes. After some initial research, they realized that if they pooled all of their savings, they would be able to cover the expenses related to leasing and remodeling an old diner and open just in time for Cinco de Mayo. After the Grand Opening, everyone agreed that the food was amazing, and the Rodriguez brothers were sure the restaurant would be generating a profit in no time. The brothers worked hard in the restaurant every day, and a small core of customers began to eat at the restaurant on a regular basis. Even though the reputation of the restaurant spread through the neighborhood by word of mouth, business remained slow through the summer. The Rodriguez brothers knew they needed to advertise to try to increase their customer base, but they had no savings left to pay for it. In addition, they were both forced to use their personal credit cards to cover the gap between the income they were generating and the operating expenses that were still unpaid at the end of each month. As a last hope, the Rodriguez brothers turned to their local bank for a loan. Unfortunately, since they had not taken any of the necessary steps required to apply for business credit, the bank had no choice but to turn them down, and by the end of the year, they were forced to close the restaurant.
Another reason why business owners often fail to plan for their business borrowing needs is actually early success with a business. Take Stephanie for example. Stephanie used her connections at a large hotel to start a party planning business. During the first six months, Stephanie worked seven days a week, booking and successfully planning over 100 events! Like most smart business owners, Stephanie invested a large portion of her early profits in her business by purchasing equipment and materials that would allow her to reduce her expenses in the long run because she would no longer have to rent those items. Unfortunately, a few months later, Stephanie learned that the large hotel where she was conducting most of her events was being sold to another company. Even worse, the new company had its own event coordinator on staff, so a majority of Stephanie’s potential client base dried up almost immediately. With little savings, Stephanie’s business was in great jeopardy, and since she had done nothing to enable herself to be able to apply for business credit, she had nowhere to turn for the financial support she needed to continue to run her business.
No matter what the reason, the fact is that most business owners are not fortunate enough to have unlimited capital reserves and often find themselves in situations for one reason or another where they need to borrow capital in order to stay in business. Taking the necessary steps to be able to apply for business credit early on will ensure that you are prepared to apply for business credit when you need it most. And taking the additional steps to actually strengthen your business’s credit rating will improve not only the type of business loan you will be able to apply for but also the interest rate and terms of the loan. Ultimately, owning your own business involves a great deal of planning, and being prepared to apply for business credit should be part of that plan.