Credit repair is likely to be a growth industry
Now is a great time to open a credit repair business online. The credit repair industry has a market size of $3.4 billion as of early 2022. And although industry-wide revenue has remained flat recently, rising interest rates – and rising debt – are a sign that the online credit repair industry is set to grow.
At E-Commerce 4 Internet Marketers (IM), we have helped many online business owners in high-risk industries like credit repair find reliable, affordable payment processing that is catered to their specific industry and needs. Please contact us with any questions, or to get started with a credit repair payment gateway and merchant account.
Get started with your credit repair business
Set up your credit repair business’s legal entity
For anyone interested in starting a credit repair business, the most important thing to do first is sit with a qualified attorney and certified public accountant (CPA).
Consulting experienced professionals will help ensure that your business gets off on the right foot and will provide information and guidance about the various choices you will have to make.
One major early decision will be what kind of structure your business will have. Common entity types include S Corp, sole proprietorship, and limited liability company (LLC), taxed either like a corporation or a sole proprietor. Your choice will depend on factors such as how many people are partners in the business and how you want to balance taxes and legal protections.
Tip: The SBA offers a comparison of the different structures which describes some of the pros and cons of each. Below are some excerpts from the SBA website:
An S corporation, sometimes called an S corp, is a special type of corporation that’s designed to avoid the double taxation drawback of regular C corps. S corps allow profits, and some losses, to be passed through directly to owners’ personal income without ever being subject to corporate tax rates.
Not all states tax S corps equally, but most recognize them the same way the federal government does and tax the shareholders accordingly. Some states tax S corps on profits above a specified limit and other states don’t recognize the S corp election at all, simply treating the business as a C corp.
Limited liability company (LLC)
An LLC lets you take advantage of the benefits of both the corporation and partnership business structures.
LLCs protect you from personal liability in most instances, your personal assets — like your vehicle, house, and savings accounts — won’t be at risk in case your LLC faces bankruptcy or lawsuits.”
Again, you should sit with a qualified attorney and a CPA before deciding on an entity type.
Educate yourself on surety bonds and get a handle on costs
Many states require that credit repair businesses obtain a surety bond as a way of helping to guarantee that you perform your duties as described. The costs can be very low if you have terrific credit and an optimal underwriting profile or very expensive if you are deemed a risk.
Tip: Shop around. Just like insurance, there can be a huge range of costs carrying from provider to provider
Here are some links that help describe what a surety bond is, along with others that discuss credit repair surety bonds specifically:
- Travelers Insurance. What is a surety bond? https://www.travelers.com/surety-bond/what-is-a-surety-bond
- NASB (Trade association): https://www.nasbp.org/getabond/about-surety
- Brooklyn Ventures LLC, an insurance agency: https://www.suretybonds.com/credit-services-organization-bond.html
Open a business checking account
While it may seem easier at first to use your personal bank account for your business, opening a business bank account is a better choice in the long run, and for an incorporated business, it is an IRS requirement. Even if your business is not incorporated, a business bank account is important for several reasons, including streamlining your credit card processing applications, accessing business loans, or protecting yourself from certain liabilities.
When looking for a business bank account, shop around to find out which banks offer lower rates and other features that you want. Also, make sure you’re upfront about your business type because some banks have restrictions on credit repair businesses.
Keep your business and personal finances separate
Maintaining separate accounts makes things a lot easier at tax time because you won’t have to separate business transactions from personal ones, which could be a real headache. It also makes it much easier to get a quick, accurate picture of where your business is at financially and tends to look more professional to clients than an account under your own name.
Lastly, maintaining a clear separation between business and personal funds helps to support what is called the “corporate veil,” which is a legal term for the liability protection you may benefit from depending on your entity type.
- Sometimes a small, local bank or credit union will be the best choice in terms of flexibility and available options.
- Your business attorney should be willing to give you a brief rundown of what a corporate veil is and discuss the best ways to maintain one in your state.
Taxes are important
Paying taxes that you do not rightfully owe can chew up a lot of your profits. Conversely, filing incorrectly and claiming false deductions can be catastrophic.
Sit with a CPA and educate yourself on best practices, learn what is a deduction and what is not. A home office may be an important deduction but there are many rules. Keep good records, but don’t be overwhelmed. A box of receipts is better than nothing,
Choose a URL (or domain name) for your credit repair business
One of the most important decisions to make when building your credit repair business’s web presence is your website’s domain name or URL. Also, you’ll want this to be consistent across your social media and other accounts.
Your website’s domain name can affect how your site is ranked in search engines, and it can also affect how easily your business name can be passed around. Therefore, you’ll want to pick a name that is unique and helps your business to stand out from more generic titles. However, if a name is too long, too difficult to pronounce, or has special characters in it, it’s more likely to be mistyped or misheard.
Tip: Try domain names out on your friends or colleagues to see what their first impressions are. This can help you narrow down your options.
Choose a website builder that allows credit repair friendly payment processing
Flexibility is important when choosing a site builder for your credit repair business’s website. Many site builders come with common payment providers built-in, like Stripe or PayPal, but these generally do not work well with high-risk industries like credit repair. So you’ll want a site builder that can be easily integrated with a high-risk payment gateway. WooCommerce is a popular site builder, and Shopify is a good choice as well, as either one can be integrated with Authorize.Net.
Additionally, there are many debt collection-focused software suites that allow for a broad array of high-risk payment processing options. Some popular debt collection-focused products include Credit Repair Cloud, DisputeSuite, ScoreCEO, TrackStar, DisCo, and DebtPayPro.
Payment professionals like us at E-Commerce 4 IM can connect a gateway like Authorize.Net with a high-risk-friendly merchant account that meets the needs of your credit repair business. Choosing a popular payment processor that has restrictions against your business type could put you in danger of an account shutdown and disruption to your business, but when all the different pieces of your payment solution are high-risk-friendly, your business accounts will be in much better shape.
Another option for site builders is a funnel builder such as ClickFunnels, which is designed to maximize sales conversions. We can then integrate ClickFunnels with a high-risk-friendly merchant account using NMI as the payment gateway to ensure high-risk-friendly payment processing across the board.
Tip: Try to get your payment gateway and merchant account from the same company. This can simplify the process and save on fees.
Market your credit repair business
Since most marketing happens online, partnering with advertising services can be an efficient way to advertise. However, in recent years, Google has restricted the advertising of financial services, so ads for credit repair services are no longer allowed on Google ad platforms. This means that other online marketing avenues are more critical for credit repair businesses.
Tip: Test many different versions of your ads and make sure your agency helps you choose the one that converts into sales best for you.
Using solutions like BNI, you can connect with other business professionals to develop relationships, build business skills, and engage in referral marketing.
Tip: Visit at least three different networking groups before choosing one to join
Set up online profiles and citations
Citations are essential for local marketing because they add credence to your business and can give it an SEO boost. When you add your business information to online profiles (Yellow Pages, Yelp, and Google are a few), and when that information is correct across multiple sources, it helps search engines recognize your business and contact information as legitimate.
Tip: Try ala cart providers, like Bright Local, as they sometimes are more affordable
Ask for reviews early on
One challenge when starting your credit repair business is that if you have not been in business for long you will not have a ton of reviews.
Consumers lean on reviews to make choices – especially in areas of importance like credit repair. We suggest that you implement a review gathering system immediately and ask for reviews beginning with your 1st clients.
The earlier you can prioritize reviews, the quicker you can establish a positive online presence. This will not only help generate new leads but the added credibility will make prospects more comfortable using your company.
Some of the best places to gather reviews are on a free Google profile page, TrustPilot, the BBB, and if you have a local presence, Yelp.
Tip: Be aware of, and follow the rules and regulations surrounding online reviews. The FTC has rules surrounding reviews as do many states. Beyond government rules, each review site has its own rules that must be followed or you risk getting your profile removed.
Here are some helpful articles to start you in the right direction:
- Bright Local tips on review site guidelines:https://www.brightlocal.com/blog/top-local-review-site-guidelines/
- Some advice from an attorney: https://www.dwt.com/insights/2022/01/ftc-deceptive-online-review-enforcement
SEO is important for credit repair sites
SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and is a common term to see in any kind of online marketing advice because search engines are one of the most common ways for potential clients to find your business. Basically, SEO has to do with how websites are found by search engines.
Search engines use algorithms to try and figure out which sites are most likely to answer users’ search queries. There are many different variables that factor into search engine algorithms, but some of the things they look at include titles on your web pages, use of keywords, links to your site from quality web pages, and the overall quality and helpfulness of your website’s content. Focusing on the SEO factors that are within your control can help give your site more visibility in search engine rankings.
Tip: Use trusted SEO resources like Search Engine Journal, Yoast, MOZ, and Neil Patel for beginners’ guides to SEO. All of these offer free resources online.
Set up social media, and use it
If you want potential clients to encounter your credit repair business, then it’s a good idea to go where the people are, and social media sites are some of the busiest places for online interactions. Setting up profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, among others, can help get your brand in front of people who can then easily share your content with their friends. By creating regular posts that educate people about your services or your industry in general, you’ll be helping to give your business more exposure.
Make videos to promote your credit repair services
Visual content can provide a way to explain complex concepts quickly and clearly, so making and posting videos is one way to help bring in potential clients. Videos could explore topics in your industry or visually outline what kinds of services you provide for clients. Post your videos directly on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn to expand your reach and make sure you use a business profile when posting them.
Tip: Solutions like Fiverr can help if you don’t have the time or experience to make videos yourself.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to others in the credit repair industry
Be honest, enthusiastic, and willing to listen to those in the industry that came before you.
Network with established competitors, executives, owners, etc. You will be surprised as to how many people are willing to help a new business. Some may have certain account types they no longer pursue and may be willing to send business your way.
Set up a credit repair payment gateway and merchant account
As we mentioned earlier, credit repair businesses are considered “high-risk” and therefore are restricted by most major payment processors like PayPal and Stripe. One popular payment gateway solution for high-risk businesses is Authorize.Net, which has been a successful option for many of our clients. While it’s often considered an all-in-one solution, it will not be set up properly for your credit repair business until it is connected with a high-risk-friendly merchant account that meets your business’s needs. We can help you find the right merchant account so that you can start accepting credit cards for your services.
Your credit repair business’s needs and preferences should be considered when selecting a high-risk merchant account. You may want to have multiple different ways of accepting credit cards, such as email invoicing, where you can send a link to a client via email that allows them to pay, or key-entered transactions, where a client would sign a written contract and could then provide their credit card information over the phone.
Need help with payment processing?
We provide prompt advice and are happy to answer any questions you may have about high-risk payment gateways and merchant accounts. We can also give you one-on-one help with setup and integrations, all at no cost or obligation to you. Contact us today to begin.