Create an Advisory Board

It's a great way to get premium business advice for cheap.

An advisory board of unbiased business peers is a cheap way ofgetting feedback without the legal entanglements and cost of aboard of directors. Payment is negotiable, and the rewards aregreat. "You can negotiate a fee or just take them out todinner," says Ray Silverstein, president of Chicago'sPresident's Resource Organization, which helps entrepreneurscreate and run advisory boards.

When creating an advisory board, look for four or five peoplewhom you not only trust but who collectively can find money,introduce you to customers, mentor your managers and review yourideas. "These are people who have political power to bear.They can open doors," says Betsy Atkins, who sits on theadvisory boards of a few small companies and is also CEO andpresident of Baja LLC, an independent venture capital firm in CoralGables, Florida. "They can also help you fine-tune yourbusiness plan."

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