by Mark Aitken
The original business angels were the private investors who flew in as if from nowhere to provide financial support for New York’s Broadway productions.
Now the term refers to anyone who invests in a small business with their capital or expertise. A semi-retired accountant may invest $50,000 in a retail outlet and act as its financial director. A 30-something marketing guru invests $30,000 in each of three direct mail companies. The trend is towards people taking an early retirement, with a sizable nest-egg and a great store of expertise. On the other side are the 700,000 small businesses who need both capital and expertise, but who find it difficult to find and afford them.
This text explains the concept and practice of this type of direct investment: why angels are needed, how businesses and angels meet, their courtship and negotiation, how they should co-exist and how to part amicably.