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If the term angel investors is previously unknown to you, an aspiring, budding, or fledgling entrepreneur, it will soon enough become both familiar and relevant. Unless you are otherwise independently wealthy, then your business idea is going to need funding sooner rather than later.
There are many online angel investor databases available. These are private investors who offer support to entrepreneurs who are unable to obtain it via conventional channels. There are also venture capital firms that manage other people’s money. Those people offer their assets for investments and hire the capital firms to do the investing for them.
Though it may seem an overstatement of the obvious, the type of investor and the type of approach to the investor depends on the proposed or actual business. Business ideas that involve research and/or development are more costly, as are very specialized niches for example.
Know Your Elevator Spiel
There is not a book, class, or workshop in the country that does not instruct anyone with a business idea to strip down his or her idea to something that can be communicated in one or two hurried sentences in case of a chance encounter with a potential investor in a cab or elevator.
The insight in that admonition is beyond quantifying. While some say that if one really wants a task completed well and on-time, ask a busy person for help. The truth is also that busy people who might otherwise even have a genuine interest in the topic have neither the time nor the inclination to wait for the person before them to decide what he or she needs and wants to say. Once the entrepreneur has the would-be angel investor’s attention, his or her own prior preparation will help the entrepreneur keep it.
Part of that prior preparation is doing the homework. Since private investors may very well be someone an entrepreneur knows personally or professionally, or someone who was referred by an acquaintance, knowing what one’s business idea is in one or two sentences and, subsequently when the conversation allows for it, speaking about ideas for expansion down the road will help pique the investor’s interest. Knowing something about the investor will help target the pitch to the investor.
Multiple Hens Mean Multiple Baskets To Collect the Eggs
Why are sales people so often shafted or avoided? People do not seem to be innately inconsiderate. But they usually do want to get straight to the point, which is what the proposal will do for them. One aspect of the homework is identifying why a prospective investor angel would have any interest in the business proposed by the person before them. One generous investor with deep pockets that will invest just because he or she knows the person with the idea is the ideal.
The reality, though, may be more than one investor, some of whom will invest just because the aspiring entrepreneur is known to them. But why build one’s future on the whims of another? Family feuds, religious factions, and institutional politics can influence someone’s support or continued support so other options are always the preferred status.
What’s My Angel Investor’s Name And What Is the Gate Password?
The fact is there are people out there with money to invest and a willingness to invest it. And you, the entrepreneur in development, may know some of them. Directors from previous employers. Present or prior fellow parishioners. Neighbors. Family members. Former teammates. Former classmates. Alumni from various associations. People you know who are themselves successful entrepreneurs. The list of possibilities may not be endless, but it is expansive. And if one person says no, what harm is there in asking if he or she might know someone who would be interested? The referral question can be asked unabashedly because no bridges are burned. Even the person who declines the opportunity may be a life-long friend.
Along with that, humble out and open your heart for what might be the ride of your life. Ask for feedback. The person before you may not invest, but may say something that will alter the course of your business and your life. It has happened. Is an investor’s reluctance the business plan or the mission statement? Or is it he or she may wonder whether you are the right person to do it? The entrepreneur will have the investor’s unwavering respect even if he or she never gets a penny!
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Aside from the personal list, there are other places to look. Crunchbase, the online publisher for investor information in technology, and AngelList, the database for life and science startups, are just a couple to start. One key point here to recognize is that finding angel investors will require some data mining by the entrepreneur. There are lists and databases out there, some offering free access, others requiring an access fee or membership in a service organization that compiles and houses the investor data. They are often grouped or listed by category like small business investors, startup investors, specialized business or niche investors, and those willing to provide on-going financing. There are even small business donors who will make a contribution without expecting a return. One additional tip is, having defined your business category, begin the search with a very specific search criterion.
There may be some overlap on this one and the availability and organization of the information may vary from state to state, but lots of community colleges or local government centers have small business centers where useful information can be obtained. The Better Business Bureau compiles a list of new business applications each year and will sell a copy to a new business looking for leads. Along with those, professional organizations can be a source of useful information if not direct leads. ACFE (fraud examiners), State Medical Associations (EX:Massachusetts Medical Society), Sports Association (NFL, NHL for example), American Dental Association, and the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) to name enough to draw the picture for you. Be advised there is an association for nearly every specialized skill like diesel mechanics and hazardous waste specialists, so search those most likely to be membered by high earners.
No one promises that angel investors will come to you in the night while you sleep with offers or that they will make entrepreneurship effortless. But they can and do improve the journey. The best news is they do exist and are not untouchable. They can be found through smart work and hard work.
Have anymore tips on finding angel investors? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.