A good credit score is critical to business success and this seems simple enough. However it plays out in many different ways. When a new business starts out, it makes sense to keep costs low and save time by simply operating the business as a Sole Proprietorship. As the business becomes successful, the business owner wrestles with many aspects and one of these includes if and when to move from a Sole Proprietor to a separate legal entity such as a corporation or LLC. This is an important decision as legally separating the business assets from the owners personal assets may provide some protection if the business loses a lawsuit. It also helps when the business grows and needs access to finance or capital to grow or wants to apply for credit from suppliers. Moving into a new legal entity can be a good business decision.
One of the reasons to consider when making this move is that it allows the owner to separate their personal and business assets. Personal assets are fairly obvious as they include the family home, car, family bank accounts and personal effects. The business assets are also fairly obvious and include items such as the fixtures, furniture and equipment, the inventory, goodwill items such as the name of the business, and any intellectual property you as the owner create.
Hopefully from day one of opening the business, there is also a separate checking account and bank deposit book for the business that is kept separate from the business. This separation may mean if the owner is sued, if the legal action has any negative outcome may only touch the business assets and not the personal assets. Plus there is always insurance to help mitigate the owner’s risk.
As the business grows, however, the business may have the need to borrow. To manage that risk, it is time to separate the personal assets from the business assets. One of the main reasons to do this is so that it protects the personal credit and credit score of the owner.
With the business assets sitting in a different legal entity, there is a need for the business owner to manage the credit and credit score not only for themselves personally, but also for the business. This is not to say that a business owner can be loose with their business credit and walk away from money they owe to others. However, the system we work in puts a high value on our credit score for so many aspects of our personal and business life.
This applies especially when borrowing money, buying a car, applying for a job etc, it is critical to manage each credit report and score in its own right. If something untoward therefore happens that means the business has to close down, the personal credit score and report of the owner is not damaged and life can go on.
This applies equally to a buyer that wishes to buy a business. With the many personal bankruptcies from the housing crash and the difficulty trying to get a job, many are turning to buy a business. However, the banks are not willing lenders even for SBA loans if the borrower has a personal bankruptcy even if it goes back many years.
The financial system provides a lot of incentive to manage money correctly. Interest paid is able to be deducted to lower tax payments, credit is available from suppliers for a period of time of say 30 days so sales can be made in advance of payment, and many other benefits. Managing and protecting a credit score is a critical requirement to enjoy all the upside.
Andrew is a 5-time business owner that helps entrepreneurs exit or enter business ownership. His services include helping owners sell and/or buyers purchase an existing business or consult on purchasing a franchise. He also provides certified machinery and equipment appraisals and business valuations.