"In a small company everyone wears several hats," says William Barton, CEO of Overland Data Inc., a San Diego computer peripherals maker. "Since our early days we've held weekly ExCom [executive committee] meetings to go over the financial health of the company." Now the $7-million company has 53 employees, all welcome to attend the evening meetings. More than half do so regularly.

"When a company grows 40% annually, there are enough changes in a single week to make a significant impact on the company," says CFO Charlie Monts. Every meeting covers cash position, shipments, customer service reports, and production goals. Employees know we aren't profitable every month," says Monts. "And they understand when we can't afford to buy supplies in volume or hire another person."