The chairman of the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands has called on businesses in the region to make 2006 "The Year of the Non-Exec".
John James said he was keen to promote the advantages non-executives could bring, not just to major corporations, but more particularly to small companies battling with growing pains and in need of a mentor.
"I have always found it ironic that many companies will not give a second thought to employing an office junior or a cleaner, but baulk at the thought of offering £10,000 a year to someone whose hard-nosed commonsense advice could help them through difficult patches, or enable them to manage growth when success comes their way.
"A non-executive director is s elf-employed, does not require payment of employers' NI or any other hidden costs, such as pension contributions, and is a highly cost effective way of bringing a wise old head into the business.
"An experienced non-executive director has seen the bad times as well as the good, and can be a useful sounding board when trading conditions are difficult and finances are tight."
He said the IoD would be working hard in 2006 to promote the value of non-executive directors to all its members in the West Midlands.
"A non-executive director with a working knowledge, both of your industry and of how to run a successful business, can be the best investment you will ever make," he said.