Small businesses looking for financial help from an “angel” often turn to individuals willing to invest in promising, start-up opportunities. Angel investors can be a good funding source to consider after you’ve tapped your friends and relatives. But angels usually don’t write blank checks. They’ll want to see progress and a way to exit the deal down the line with meaningful profits. So expect angel investors to do a lot of research and careful investigation into your business plan.
Be thoughtful in approaching potential investors. Biotech investors, for example, don’t want to hear about a clothing manufacturer. A scattershot approach is likely to turn them off. Industry associations, local trade groups or, in some states, business-incubator centers can help point to potential angels.
Angel investors often invest through groups or networks. These provide due diligence, extra research, access to potential deals and shared expertise that one person operating alone generally doesn’t have. For instance, one member of an angel group might have background in a particular industry or the know-how to set up deal terms, sharing that knowledge with the other investors.
Angel investors are usually thorough, so don’t expect to get your money quickly. It could take several months to meet with different individuals or groups and answer all of their questions. (There are exceptions, including the case of Google, which got funding from an angel before its cofounders finished their presentation to him.)
Because they’ll own a part of your company, they’ll likely want a say in major decisions, and they’ll watch to see whether you listen to them. Don’t expect them to write a check and walk away. Many angel investors are former business owners who want to help people like themselves. They may be able to provide good advice based on their previous experiences.
Getting funding from angel investors isn’t easy, but it can be done if you take the right approach and are a good match with their interests. And the benefits can beyond the money for your business, but their expertise in both in business operations and your industry niche.