When Anita Curry of Vancouver started her online interior design platform, Avenue Spaces, high on her to-do list was getting a business credit card.
As part of the e-commerce industry, Avenue Spaces has more than 100,000 products at its disposal. Ms. Curry is constantly dealing with online vendors who require a business credit card on file to complete transactions.
"It absolutely made sense that it was one of the first items we looked into," explains Ms. Curry. Avenue Spaces was started for the budget-conscience individual who's sick of cookie-cutter big box furnishings, explains the 41-year-old entrepreneur. Her customers want access to interior design skills, a tailored look and a large inventory that can be shipped to their door.
A commercial credit card hasn't always been top of mind for new small business owners when they launched their company. The focus was on paying the rent, getting products or services in line, and hustling for work. Business credit cards often came into play only after an owner had many months, even years, under his or her belt.
That's no longer the case, especially in the ever-expanding e-commerce space. The Canadian e-commerce market is expected to see sales figures of $44-billion in 2018, up from $29.6-billion in 2015, according to Statista. That's 8 per cent of total retail sales, says the market research company.
Like Ms. Curry, small business owners across Canada are selecting business credit cards for a host of reasons: fast capital, purchasing power and global access to products and services. They are also taking advantage of the same types of rewards programs found on their personal credit cards, so they won't miss out on earning perks.
But perhaps the main value of these cards is allowing small business owners the ability to establish a credit rating and validate their business.
"Often newer, small businesses can struggle with not having recognized credit. This can be a significant hurdle if a small business wants to expand across borders or online," explains Adrian Lang, BMO's Head of Governance and Small Business Solutions, North American Retail Payments, Canadian Personal and Business Banking.
She says building that credit rating can help to secure loans down the road. The earlier a small business can start creating a positive profile with a credit rating agency, the better. This can be vital, too, in attracting new business from around the world.
"Getting a small business card in the company's name is increasingly important with international businesses, as the global consumer wants to ensure a company is a legitimate business," says Ms. Lang.
There are other advantages. Many small businesses and start-ups self-finance initially, which often takes the form of a credit card. Ensuring the right card to meets those financing needs is critical. This could mean a card with a lower interest rate, to make it easier to carry a balance if needed. That helps to maximize cash flow.
The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) notes that among the wide variety of financing choices – like business terms loans, line of credit, supplier credit, informal investors, leasing assets – don't forget credit cards as an option.
The CBA likens business credit cards to a short-term operating loan. They note that some banks and other financial institutions also have card-based products that access business lines of credit.
With a recognized card that's accepted worldwide, business owners also have access to a global marketplace.
"Knowing you have the right card means that the owner can focus on growing their brand, not on whether or not they can make a purchase or do a transaction internationally," explains Ms. Lang.
For Ms. Curry, having a small business credit card is an essential part of her business. It provides the purchasing power, capital and flexibility she needs to furnish her clients homes and expand Avenue Spaces.
"It allows us to access products and clients from all over the world, and the ability to scale globally with minimal effort," she says.
To find out more about the suite of BMO's new small business credit cards, and other products and services for small business, visit bmo.com/business.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio, in consultation with an advertiser. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.