Sayville Business Owners Learn the Ropes at Library Event
Amanda Erickson/Sayville (NY) Patch

12 October 2011

Pay your phone bill on time. Check your free personal credit score. Don't make mistakes on application forms.

These were some pieces of advice given out at the first of three workshops for small business owners, hosted at Sayville Library in conjunction with the Stony Brook Small Business Development Center.

At the Sept. 28 session, three speakers highlighted strategies for businesses looking to shore up their credit.

"There's a very real connection between your personal credit and your business credit," said Chris Dlugozima from Green Path Debt Solutions, which offers free debt counseling.

Lenders look at personal finances because it offers them a clearer sense of whether the business owner is responsible. It is also easier to hold a person accountable, rather than a faceless business.

Dlugozima advised attendees to order a free credit report at least once a year, and to dispute any false charges. Three companies provide these reports, and Dlugozima suggested that attendees compare information and identify errors.

He said lenders are looking for patterns of missed payments, so one mistake likely won't hurt too much.

Stacy Luft, of CF Grow, had some tips for making business owners attractive to vendors.

"Pay your carriers and your phone service on time," she said.

Luft also recommended asking vendors to write letters of recommendation vouching for a timely payment record.

When seeking out new lines of credit, Luft advised doing some research to understand what a bank is looking for. "Different places want different things," she said. "Some will only lend on good collateral. Some will lend on contracts." This research will help owners weed out firms that won't lend to them and avoid a rejection.

Lawyer Lisa Pomerantz reminded attendees of the importance of maintaining a good relationship with your bank. 

"You have an ongoing obligation to notify the bank of any material changes in your business," she said. "It's better to be declined for credit than convicted for bank fraud."

To do this, Pomerantz recommended choosing a point person in charge of writing checks, repaying loans and staying in touch with tellers.

She also had a couple of good sense rules for any business owner.   

"Read the fine print," she said. "Deal with changing conditions proactively. If any problems arise, try to deal with them. Don’t hide."