More than half of convenience store owners (55%) are struggling to access goods and services due to poor credit ratings, according to new research.

A national survey by energy provider Utilita found that 64% of c-stores said they had been hit with unexpected terms and conditions, such as higher rates or inflexible payment options. Almost half (41%) have been asked to make large upfront payments for their energy supply.

Almost one in five convenience stores (19%) have been turned down when applying for energy simply due to their size, the survey found.

Utilita’s director of commercial energy Shaun Underwood said: “This survey shows the stark state of affairs for small businesses in today’s climate. Small businesses like convenience stores are the backbone of our economy and restricting their access to vital services only stifles their ability to grow and support the wider economy.

“This issue of accessing vital services goes much wider than the energy sector which is why we’re highlighting some of the simple but effective steps that small and micro businesses can take to improve their credit score and improve their access to the services they need.”

Top Tips to improve your business credit score:

  • · Pay your bills on time. A negative record of paying on time can indicate a poor cash position.
  • · Limit your credit usage and keep debt low, however, use some credit to create a history.
  • · Regularly check your credit rating using an online tool and correct any mistakes immediately.
  • · Register your business with a credit reference agency or directory to make sure there is a record of your business. If your business is below the radar it could affect you getting credit.
  • · Check the credit position of your suppliers to protect yourself if something happened to them.
  • · Avoid closing accounts when paid off.
  • · If you’re a start-up business, keep a close eye on your personal finances. If financial information about your business is not available, your personal data could be used as an indicator.
  • · Avoid County Court Judgements but if one does occur make sure it’s paid off immediately.