Business Credit for Startups

If you’re brand new to the business world, one of the first things you should do is establish your business credit file by getting a D&B® D-U-N-S Number. Tweet This This nine-digit number creates a business credit profile for your company, which you can impact and leverage. Once you’ve gotten your D-U-N-S Number, you can start building your business credit and reputation.

Think you already know everything there is to know about the D-U-N-S, or want to learn more? Take our quiz to test your knowledge.


How Well Do You Know the D-U-N-S Number®?
How Well Do You Know the Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number?
The D-U-N-S Number is used to establish a business credit file, which is often referenced by lenders and others to help predict the reliability of a company. Let’s put your knowledge to the test!
The D-U-N-S Number has been around since 1963, and there are 280M+ businesses in Dun & Bradstreet’s database.
Did you know?
Even if not required, providing your D-U-N-S Number with your contract bid is a great way to showcase your credibility to non-government clients.
A D-U-N-S Number establishes a business credit file for a company, which can be leveraged for funding, contracts, and more. But, it can take up to 30 business days to receive
a D-U-N-S Number.

Companies may have a D-U-N-S Number and not even know it! See if your business already has a D-U-N-S Number by looking up your business or search for another company to find its report.
A company could have multiple D-U-N-S Numbers associated with it based on information its suppliers and partners have submitted to Dun & Bradstreet. You can verify your company information for free with Company Update.
The government currently requires a D-U-N-S Number for businesses that wish to bid on its contracts. You can get an expedited D-U-N-S Number if you’re a federal contractor.
You can actually use the D-U-N-S Number to do all of these things: establish your business credit file, manage your cash flow, and get better terms and rates on loans. You can use another company’s D-U-N-S Number to find its file and manage risks to your company.
Apple requires developers to have a D-U-N-S Number in order to verify the legal entity status of their organization. You can learn more about D-U-N-S Numbers for developers from Apple.
Your business needs an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for tax purposes, but it won’t establish your business credit file like a D-U-N-S Number will. Learn more about how the two numbers differ.
The D-U-N-S Number is a 9-digit identifier for a business, but the numbers are not representative of the business, they are provided at random!
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How’d you score? If we stumped you, learn more about the D-U-N-S Number, or apply for one below!
How’d you score? If we stumped you, learn more about the D-U-N-S Number, or apply for one below!


Why Startups Need Business Credit

As a startup, you’ll likely be relying on friends, family, savings, and possibly investors to help you fund your business, but it’s imperative you start building your business credit early so when your established business needs a loan, you’ll have the scores and ratings to help you get one.

Business credit may help you with more than funding; it can also help grow your business by helping you get contracts. By monitoring others’ business credit, it can additionally help you manage the increased risks to your growing business and manage your cash flow so you can safely grow and succeed.

How to Build Business Credit as a Startup

As a startup, you may not have many opportunities to build business credit, but there are a few things you can do.

1. Set up a business bank account

It’s imperative to keep your business credit separate from your personal credit to help protect your personal assets and build your business credit. Setting up a business bank account and keeping your expenses separate is the first step.

2. Set Up and Pay Bills in Your Company’s Name

Until you start working more with other companies, one of the best ways to help build your business credit is by paying bills in your company’s name. This can help establish a payment history for you, which can help build your business credit until you establish a payment history with other businesses or institutions. Be sure to pay early or on time to build good credit.

3. Get a Small Loan

Your business credit may be leveraged to help you get elusive bank loans, but you may be able to get alternative funding from lenders with less strict requirements. If you can obtain a small loan or line of credit that you pay back early or on time, you can help show that your business can handle a bank loan or larger amount of financing.

Once you transition into a medium-sized business, you’ll have more options for building business credit. Until then, focus on separating your personal and business credit and paying your bills on time.

Want to learn more about business credit and how it can be leveraged? Check out our business credit guide or learn the basics.

Photo Credit: o.hatton, Twenty20