Part Two: Improving your credit
This infographic shows just how hard it was for small business owners to access credit after the financial crisis (source)
Step One: Get informed
Stop worrying and check your score. Every American is entitled to one free score per year, so use google and find the one for you. If you would like to check your score on an ongoing basis--which is not only recommended but almost essential in today's world of identity theft and credit tracing--check out sites like creditkarma.com and fico.com
Step Two: Hire Some Help
Look into the various firms around the country that are expert in improving your credit score and cleaning up your credit history. Lexington Law is one of the best--in my opinion, they are excellent--and their $100 fee will certainly be money well spent. Their company has hundreds of paralegals and dozens of lawyers who specialize in credit repair. The firm you hire will collect and review your credit reports--Lexington Law creates one-page summaries of the what has helped and what has hurt your credit. You then work side-by-side with one of their experts to scan each listing for mistakes and further explanations.
Step Three: Contact Your Creditors
If you have hired a firm, then they will begin to send letters to each of creditor who has reported you, in order to clear up misunderstandings or to remove derogatory comments. At this time you should also prepare personal letters asking each reporter to remove the item in question from your report.
Step Four: Calling your Creditors
About 15-25% of the items in question will be removed about a month from the date of your letters. At that time, you should pick up the phone and call each of the companies that reported you. Ask to talk to the department that deals with credit. Once you have the right representative, explain what caused you to miss or delay your payment. If they reject you, ask to speak to the supervisor until you reach the person with the authority to remove the item. Always be polite and gracious, and never be adversarial.
A sample conversation may go like this:
You: I am calling about a negative comment you left on my credit report. I would like you to hear my side of it so that I can repair my credit score and move on.
Representative: Ok, let me get your record up.
You: Your company had reported that I was late on my payments. It is true that I was late because [tell the absolute truth about why you were late such as you were sick, you moved and lost bill, you lost your job, you were going through a divorce, etc.].
Remember to be patient and to be persistent. Keeping a good credit score is critical to meeting your financial goals and starting your own business.