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Management: The A Team

A well-chosen board can supercharge your management. Here's how to get the best advisers working for you

Danielle Ayotte and Julie Dix were at a crossroads. In 1999, they had started Taggies to sell Dix's invention-a baby blanket made with soft satin loops for babies to play with. The pair had no business experience and relied on the occasional advice of experts recommended by their friends. But by 2003 their Spencer (Mass.) company was growing rapidly, and the hit-or-miss approach wasn't enough. "At every turn, it seemed we had another challenge to face," says Ayotte. "We kept going to experts, but in a very fragmented way. We realized we needed everyone in one room." They asked seven people with various specialties, from marketing to law, to sit on a board of advisers.

It was a wise move. "The board helped give us our direction in everything from financing to marketing and our internal structure," says Ayotte, who is treasurer; Dix is president. "We don't have a CEO, we have a board." The directors' advice aided them in boosting revenues to $1 million that year, up from the $750,000 they had expected. It has since guided the 23-employee company's expansion, both at home and into other countries. Sales in Canada and overseas accounted for about 10% of Taggies' 2005 revenue of $5 million.