Barbara Moore says she made a distressing discovery when she began talking to groups of women business owners. "The women I talk to are interested only in marketing and personnel," says Moore, the president of Pittsburgh-based Anderson Transfer and women's business advocate for the Small Business Administration. "Ask them their gross sales, and they're embarrassed."

So Moore has teamed up with Ilana Diamond, a senior manager of Price Waterhouse, to launch Powerlink, a service that helps women business owners in Pittsburgh put together high-powered boards of advisers. But there's a catch. "As a prerequisite, women have to disclose their sales," she says, "and they also have to structure their board-meeting agendas so that the numbers come first. I know that lots of women see profit as a by-product of business, rather than a goal, and that's fine. But there's something wrong when women don't even list profit among their top 10 priorities, and I'm shocked to see so little cost accounting in these companies. That just isn't smart. It makes business so much more of a struggle. Maybe you can get by with it in good times, but in tough times like these you can't hide behind marketing anymore. Women can no longer afford to be removed from their financials."

I have only one quarrel with Moore: her argument applies to just as many men as women. As for Powerlink, we've signed up its first client to keep a diary of her experiences. Stay tuned to hear how Anita F. Brattina, founder of Direct Response Marketing, fares with her new board of advisers.