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This story appears in the September 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Rita Alvy-Teeter came into work one bright spring day last yearto find a third of the pulled out from under her Irvine,California, design firm.

The loss of just one large client hit the paychecks of thepresident and her partners immediately, and put Drive IndustriesDesign Group, which projects $800,000 in 2005 sales, insurvival mode. Purchases got postponed, paper clips got counted,and some of the seven-person boutique's outside contractorsdidn't get contracts. Summer 2004 was spent rustling upapproximately 30 new clients to replace that one bigrevenue-generator. Alvy-Teeter herself had to spend more timeCEO-ing than sketching.

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