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'Nightmare of Bankology' Lines of credit may be disappearing faster than Tiger Woods' endorsements, but all is not lost.

By Amy Cosper

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If cash is king, credit is the stallion it rides. Every year, millions of entrepreneurs and small-business owners depend on credit to start, run and cover the costs of doing business--usually through a line of credit, small-business loan or credit cards. Credit is the lifeblood of small business (and small business is the lifeblood of this economy). Credit can make or break a company during a recovery.

So when banks begin pulling and cutting lines of credit--as they did in unprecedented numbers last year--it is calamitous. In the last six months, 38 percent of small businesses reported a decrease in lines of credit, according to the National Small Business Association; and more than 40 percent of small-business owners who requested extensions to their lines of credit were denied, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Across the country, 'treps have been left scrambling to find emergency operating capital in a market where credit is damn hard to come by. Or they are filing for bankruptcy.

We decided to go after a story about why banks are pulling lines of credit--and more importantly, what you can do if it happens to you--after a series of conversations with entrepreneurs who are dealing with this "nightmare of bankology," as one succinctly put it.

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