Small companies are finding that almost everything is renegotiable these days.

The economic downturn is prompting business owners — by necessity or by opportunity — to re-examine contracts with suppliers, vendors or landlords and come up with creative deals. And in many cases, they are saving a substantial sum of money.

“Most of us grew up knowing that once you agree to something, you don’t back out of it,” says small-business consultant Bill Bartmann of Bill Bartmann Enterprises in Tulsa, Okla. “That rule doesn’t apply anymore.”

In a survey released in September of more than 1,000 small-business owners and managers, about 15% had recently renegotiated long-term fixed-cost supply contracts, according to the Small Business Research Board, a Buffalo Grove, Ill., publisher of the Small Business Confidence Index, which tracks overall business confidence and issues of small-business owners and managers.

Raymund Flandez reports in the Wall Street Journal