The credit mess has caused pain for some small businesses, who find many of their customers delaying -- or defaulting on -- payments. For instance, California-based Artisan Shutter Co. billed a large architectural firm $180,000 for custom shutters for a hotel. However, the customer was depending on a loan it didn't receive and said it could not pay $40,000 -- leaving Artisan holding the bag and the owners raiding their retirement accounts to pay bills.

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