From the January 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

Have you ever needed someone to bounce ideas off of but didn't know whom to turn to? There's a Tustin, California, nonprofit organization that's helping women-owned businesses create their first board of directors or advisory board.

In the process, the group hopes to create a model program that can be duplicated nationally in order to increase the number of women sitting on the boards of major corporations.

"We act as a leverage point to help women get the type of advisors on their boards that they might not be able to attract as a new business," explains Sheri Grady, founder and chair of Board Builders. The organization targets successful companies with more than $5 million in revenue and 30 to 50 percent growth potential.

Women are particularly wary of the board of advisors concept, says Grady, because they worry about losing control of their companies. "We want to show women these boards are very important tools," she explains, "and that it's important for them to feel comfortable managing a board. [After all,] down the road they might be managing a much larger board."

During the selection process, which takes a minimum of four months, Board Builders matches the entrepreneur with a three- to five-member board of CEOs, corporate movers and shakers, and other successful entrepreneurs--people who supplement the business owners' weak areas and complement their management styles.

Besides providing input and guidance, Grady says, an advisory board can help you make connections that put you on the fastest track to growth. For more information, call (714) 832-5741 and ask for Board Builders.