The Wall Street Journal published a disheartening story today about how small businesses are getting squeezed by an increase in late-paying customers. One of the companies interviewed, Digital Blue of Marietta, Georgia, which makes electronics for kids, said 60 percent of its retail customers were late in making payments. The article also includes a chart showing the number of days it takes companies to get paid in an odd assortment of industries. (I'll sum up: If you make liquor, you're in the clear. If you make office furniture, you've never been sicker.)

If you are worried about late payers, check out Inc. reporter Nitasha Tiku's recent guide to getting paid on time in a tough economy. She interviewed five companies who have found creative ways to get customers to pay on time--and to weed out the ones who won't.