Question: I'm a new product developer with a fresh idea for sunglasses. I have developed my business and laid the groundwork and am ready to proceed. The only problem I have is getting the capital necessary to float the project. I already went through the SBA, but I'm looking for someone who loves the industry and would be interested in a new venture that has huge potential. Where can I find such a person?
Answer: Sounds like you're looking for an angel. Angels are wealthy individuals who regularly make investments in small businesses. Cliff Ennico, co-host of the popular Money Hunt show on PBS and co-author of Money Hunt: 27 New Rules for Starting and Growing a Breakaway Business (HarperBusiness), tells us the right angel is someone within a 20- to 50-mile radius of your business who will not only give you money but also act as a mentor.
Finding angels can be tricky, but Ennico says the best way "is to use your shoe leather just as you would when looking for a job." He suggests putting together a list of people you could ask to serve on your board of advisors, then sending them your business plan. Some may want to invest.
The second place he suggests looking is trade associations. Join, attend meetings and trade shows, and be on the lookout for recent retirees seeking to get involved in new projects.
Finally, Ennico suggests becoming involved in nonprofit organizations and charities, where you can meet board members and donors interested in investing in local small businesses.
Small-business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards recently released their second edition of Getting Business To Come To You (Tarcher). If you have a question regarding a start-up business issue, contact them at http://www.paulandsarah.comor send it in care of Entrepreneur.