ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Venture capital

Helpsheets and support

Published: 01 Jun 2016 Updated: 24 Mar 2021 Update History

Business angels are individuals who make equity investments in businesses with growth potential, businesses in the early stages of development, or established businesses looking for expansion capital.

What is angel finance?

Angel finance is a term used to describe what happens when individuals (“business angels”) or groups of angels (often known as a syndicate) invest their own money in a business in return for shares.

Angels back high-risk opportunities, with the potential for high returns. The deeper pocketed angels can invest upwards of £50,000. Some invest on their own, others through a syndicate, however, the most significant trend is for angels to invest in syndicates or groups, generally with a lead angel.

At the seed stage, lower amounts of funding may be available. Businesses in the growth stage may be able to attract higher amounts from angel syndicates.

Angels can offer multiple rounds of finance and frequently co-invest with other sources of equity and co-investment funds as further growth finance is required.

What angels can offer

When taking on angel investment, a business should look beyond the capital they put in. Unlike venture capital or other forms of equity investment, the money invested by angels is their own personal money, which they have worked hard to earn. Therefore, angels tend to invest more than just money when they decide to invest in a growing business.

They tend to take a long-term view of their investments, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses over time rather than seeking a quick return.

Most angels can bring valuable first-hand experience of growing businesses, often early-stage businesses. Their skills and experience will be shared with the business, as well as their network of contacts.

Most angels focus on investments within a small geographic area, and so have local knowledge and local networks.

Angels often make investment decisions quickly, without complex assessments. However, tracking down the right angel can take time.

Key considerations

  1. Angel investors are most often individuals rather than companies. An angel investor provides financial backing to entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses, or start-ups.
  2. The capital that angels provide can be a single injection of funds or ongoing financial backing via a series of investments.
  3. There are many pros and cons to angel investment. The biggest negative for many is giving up equity or shares in the company. The biggest positive is usually a combination of the cash injection with advice and valuable business connections from experienced investors.

Finance at every stage

Business financing is not a one-off decision, but an ongoing and evolving situation. No decision can be made in isolation to the businesses journey. Find out more about what options are suitable now and what might work at another stage.

Business Finance Guide

Further support

Next steps

More support to your inbox

ICAEW publishes daily, weekly and monthly emails offering viewpoints, interviews and features that make the connection between global economic issues, chartered accountancy, individual members and business.

Understand your options

Find out more about the different finance options available at different stages of your business journey.

Equity finance optionsDebt finance options