Britain's 4 million small traders have been paying off debt and overdrafts in a desperate attempt to ride out the economic storm.
As they put a hold on recruitment and spending, they have managed to pay back £889m of the overdrafts since July last year.
The outstanding overdraft total for smaller businesses reported by the British Bankers Association stood at just under £7.6bn at the end of last year, a fall of £1.2bn from the year before.
Meanwhile, traders have been building up their cash reserves, like any household battening down the hatches.
Their cash in current and deposit accounts totalled £59bn, a new record and well above their outstanding lending of £52bn.
Banks are under pressure to provide more funds to small business. They did lend £6.5bn last year, but that was more than offset by repayments and debt write-offs of £9bn.