YOU’VE come up with the idea and streamlined the technology. Getting the product to market, however, is another matter entirely - especially when you don’t have the funds.

Banks are often reluctant to lend before the cash starts flowing, but that’s where angel syndicates like Equity Gap come in, groups of individuals looking to invest in start-ups and growing businesses alike.

Ken Long, a partner at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, has been advising and bringing together businesses and investors in the tech sector – including the aforementioned Equity Gap – since 2005, and has a wealth of experience in negotiating solutions.

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Every proposition is different, he says, especially since new technology moves on so fast. The core issues tend to remain the same, however, and it’s his job to protect the interests of whichever side he’s acting on behalf of, be they angels or businesses in need of help.

“Equity gap and others do exactly that – fund the gaps for promising start-ups,” explains Mr Long. “Usually the angels want to give something back. There are tax breaks involved, of course, but they’re looking out for businesses in their own specialism and often want to give practical help and advice as well as financial investment. Often they will sit on the board for free. It’s exciting for them, and they love the buzz of being involved in a start-up.”

As the legal advisor is keen to stress, it’s all about taking a calculated risk.

With this in mind, what advice would he offer those seeking investment?

“One of my investors always says ‘I don’t invest in technology, I invest in people’ and that’s important.

“Those looking for funding must have a good grasp of numbers –understanding every aspect of the finances of your business is vital.

“Presentation is imperative, too. You have to look smart and be confident - but not arrogant - and be able to persuade others that you have the skills to grow the business, that you’re going to the right marketplace, that you’re on to a winner.

“You have to come across as a credible person to invest in – it’s not just the product that’s important.”

As for existing firms looking to expand, Mr Long advises thinking carefully about the right funding route, especially since the two most viable options may have very different consequences.

The dilemma for many businesses at this stage is whether to pursue debt or equity.

“A bank loan is a sensible option for many people right now since interest rates continue to be very low,” explains Mr Long. “As long as you have the revenues to cover repayments this can be particularly attractive because you won’t be giving up any equity.”

The other option is equity, which brings external investors into play. Ultimately, cautions Mr Long, this option could lead to a change in ownership of the company.

“Be aware that you will lose maybe 20 per cent of your company straight away,” he explains. “And your share will reduce further if and when you go back for more equity.

“Sometimes this leads to the person who founded and built up a company becoming a minority shareholder. That’s fine with a start-up business – it’s better to have a small portion of a bigger thing than 100 per cent of nothing. But when you give up ownership of an existing business, the investors will want a say. You have to ask whether you are ready for that.

“They may also want veto rights – a list of things you won’t be able to do without their consent. Some people will find that hugely restrictive.

“Those who spent time building up their business could find themselves ousted, which is always a very hard situation. It’s best when people are self-aware and know where their talents lie. In this situation they may not always be the best CEO, but they might be a great head of sales.

“These are very real issues and it’s important that people mull them over before seeking equity funding.

“Remember, there’s only one Bill Gates – even Steve Jobs was sacked from Apple."