Sun 17 Apr 2016 | By:

67 Best Resources for Starting a Business in Illinois

Resources for Starting a Business

Illinois is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. With its rich natural resources and scenic views, Illinois has proven time and again that it’s one of the most livable states.

The state of Illinois also has a first-class and skilled workforce, unparalleled infrastructure, abundant energy resources, access to key industries and the financial resources to back every small business owner’s dream business. If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to take advantage of these benefits and overcome the myriad challenges of starting a business in Illinois, the state will prove to be a fertile ground for growing startups.

To make things easier for you, we’ve made a list of the top 67 resources that will help you kickstart your business in Illinois.


Top 10+ Illinois Small Business Resources

1) The Global Small Business Blog

The Global Small Business Blog is for entrepreneurs and small businesses who are interested in expanding globally. It is a small business blog which can help identify the benefits, challenges and problems facing global trade. This business blog was founded by Laurel Delaney to help small businesses grow internationally.

2) Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC)

The SBAC is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the success of small businesses through political advocacy, support services and educational programs. The organization believes small businesses must have a powerful and unified advocacy voice at the local state and federal level.

3) The Chicago Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

The chamber works to promote economic opportunities for the LGBT community by being an advocate for all member businesses that encourage equality. They are able to accomplish this goal through various marketing initiatives, public relation campaigns, and cooperative advertising that aims to help local, national and international markets.

4) Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC)

BACC is an active referral resource for local business and helps members who are looking for job openings, business information and resources, and local events. It puts you in a league of business and community leaders dedicated in the success of one another and enhancing quality of life in the community.

5) Berwyn Development Corporation

Berwyn Development Corporation, through a shared vision with the community, markets Berwyn regionally and nationally as a convenient place for business and a leisure destination. The corporation aims to support and help in economic growth by assisting small businesses with resources to get capital and efficiently perform accounting and business planning. They also offer other resources such as a list of free online courses, business organizations and marketing resources.

6) SBDC Illinois

America’s SBDC Illinois is part of America’s Small Business Development Center Network to assist in job creation, support entrepreneurship, job start-up, expansion, productivity, and to sharpen small business management in the region. The network’s goal is to help new entrepreneurs achieve their goals and assist new businesses in staying successful in the marketplace locally, regionally and globally.

7) Urbana Business Association

An organization not-for-profit and membership driven whose mission is to promote Urbana as a dynamic place in which to live, work, and do business. The Urbana Business Association website offers full range of business information to members wherein they get access to networking opportunities, marketing support, access to events, and support working with government to start or grow your business.

8) Makers Wanted ELK Grove Village

A virtual toolbox was created by ELK grove called the Business Resource Guide to provide current and prospective businesses with valuable information on the villages processes and available business development resources. The village guarantees easier, more efficient, and potentially quicker resolutions by grasping all the necessary steps for achieving your goal.

9) Chicagoland Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

The Chicagoland Black Chamber of Commerce’s primary role is to enhance the success of their members. They do this through aggressive programs in advocacy, member benefits and services, and actionable information. The Chicagoland Black Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization in the Chicago metropolitan area that promotes business and it is headed by Arness Dansy, an outspoken economic advocate for black business growth, job creation, entrepreneurship, and civic activity in Chicago and collar counties throughout Illinois.

10) South Suburban Small Business Association (SSSBA)

South Suburban Small Business Association is a regional organization that provides essential networking opportunities and needed information and resources to address the needs of small businesses throughout the South Suburban Region. They act as a voice for the region in the training needs of the workforce to establish and maintain political awareness on the local, state and national levels.

11) Business Resource Group (BRG)

Business Resource Group helps small business owners by providing them with bookkeeping and payroll services. With the help of professionals from the group, this will allow them to have timely, organized, and accurate financial statements as well as freeing them to spend time with family.

12) ILBIZ Small Business Alliance

When running a business or building a new one, proper planning and implementation is an essential tool in which ILBIZ Small business Alliance can provide assistance. Some of their services include one-on-one business counselling and business assistance, assistance with the development of business plans, and access to business education and training opportunities.

13) Illinois Innovation Network

Illinois Innovation Network helps in the search for more information and a broader network of resources for entrepreneurs and innovators residing in Illinois. The innovators can use resources and other information from the website while they can also add their own that they would want to share to others.

14) Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)

Women’s Business Development Center is a nonprofit which advocates women’s business ownership and women’s economic empowerment. They have programs designed to help in the different phases of business development. WBDC is a also part of the following organizations: Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC), Women’s Business Center (WBC), and The Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).


Free Illinois Startup Guides

1) How to Start a Business in Illinois

A 6-step straightforward guide that will assist entrepreneurs in starting a business in Illinois effectively. The guide also has available resources which are not only affordable, but efficient as well.

2) How to Form an LLC in Illinois

Forming an LLC in Illinois has many perks and advantages, if you’re planning to incorporate under Limited Liability Company, this guide will help you through the entire process. This is a 5-step guide that will give you all the details that you need to understand how you can form an LLC as quickly as possible.

3) How to File a DBA in Illinois

For small business owners to be able to operate under a different name, a DBA is a mandatory requirement in the state of Illinois. File a DBA in 3 simple steps by reading and following this guide. If you need resources to make things a little easier, this is a good resource for you to check out as it also contains free and affordable tools.

4) How to Finance a Business in Illinois

Undercapitalization is a serious business sin that you have to avoid at all cost. If you’re finding it difficult to look for financing, I suggest that you read this guide to know where you can look for funding in Illinois. It contains 5 excellent sources of funding to help you get started.

5) How to Get an Illinois Registered Agent

A Registered Agent is a major requirement to start a business in Illinois and hiring a competent professional is highly necessary. To help you choose the best of the best, this guide will discuss with you the requirements and restrictions and your options when hiring an Illinois Registered Agent.

6) How to Form a Corporation in Illinois

A corporation is a legal structure that can give you loads of benefits as a business owner. Form your startup into a corporation using this 6-step, easy-to-follow guide; plus, additional resources so you can operate your business with peace and ease.

7) How to Incorporate in Illinois

Incorporating in Illinois can sometimes be overwhelming; documents to prepare here and there, the complicated steps and procedures you have to go through and sometimes the long wait can be pretty frustrating. However, it doesn’t have to be this way if you have something that can guide you with every step. This 4-step guide is especially made for you so you can start your business efficiently.




A non-profit organization that provides business mentorship and coaching for free to small business owners. This is provided by experienced business professionals and consultants who have voluntarily and willingly offered their services to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners as they go through the challenging process of building a startup.

2) SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration is a government agency and is the largest provider of small business resources in the United States. Startup and business management resources are offered for free to new and existing businesses so that they can increase their chances of success. The agency also provides local assistance, loans and grants and training.

3) Startup Savant

Startup Savant is a free business online magazine that aims to simplify entrepreneurship for small business owners and entrepreneurs in Illinois. The online magazine features articles of free and affordable small business resources from planning to accounting. It also has product reviews and inspiring articles that will motivate you to work harder.


If you’re looking for an online business magazine that basically has every topic that you could think about related to business, you have to check out The online magazine specifically features stories and information about the current trends and practices in the small business industry. It has numerous articles discussing tips and guides on how to start and manage a new business.

5) AllBusiness

AllBusiness is a free online business website that contains all the right information on building and and managing a business. It especially caters to small businesses and companies with less than 500 employees. The website also studies the overall health of the small business industry in the U.S.


Wealthy Gorilla is the go-to for small business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking for inspiring and motivating articles not just related to business, but life in general. The website also features true-life stories of successful entrepreneurs who worked their way from scratch.


Funding Resources in Illinois

1) Illinois Business Financial Services (IBFS)

Illinois Business Financial Services is a certified development company that helps small businesses in Illinois by providing resources through commercial lending, assisting with guaranteed loans and express programs. The company assists in determining the right option for you and your business.

2) SomerCor

SomerCor is a 504 program wherein unlike any other lending institution and bank who participate in 50% of the total project cost, it finances 40% of the balance which leaves 10% down payment for the business helping to preserve valuable working capital. With the SomerCor 504 program, both the business and the bank can benefit from the arrangement.

3) Growth Corp

Growth Corp provides better access to money for expansion rather than other conventional financing through their 504 loan program. Aside from other 504 lenders in Illinois, Growth Corp has these borrowers’ advantage:  long-term fixed rate, low down payment, improved cash flow, payment stability and preserves capital.

4) Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA)

Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs basically seeks to improve the quality of life in the rural areas. Recognizing the concerns in the rural areas and partnering with public and private agencies to find the means to solve the problems. The institute also runs a program that provides a loan guaranty for small and independent owned businesses that cannot make the loan on a conventional basis.

5) Central Illinois Bank

Central Illinois Bank is a banking office that offers full service for personal and business services to serve communities throughout Central Illinois. Central Illinois Bank is a branch of CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc. (CIBM) and also serves communities throughout Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Indianapolis, Indiana operating under the name Marine Bank.

6) Illinois National Bank (INB)

Illinois National Bank is a local bank in central Illinois that is locally owned and run by a team residing in Central Illinois. The bank offers traditional banking services and keeps the decision-making at the local level. It was the first bank in town to offer online banking for consumers.

7) First Southern Bank

First Southern Bank is an independent community bank that offers high quality customer service and community involvement. First Southern Bank is a merger of two locally owned and operated community banks, namely First Southern Bank and Herrin Security bank, which took place on December 5, 2014.

8) Glasford Bank

Glasford Bank is a community financial institution located in Mapleton to serve banking products and excellent service to their clients. The bank was originally known as Farmers and Traders Bank which was closed and re-organized as Glasford Bank in 1932. There have been a lot of changes through time but the bank continues their traditional outstanding services.

9) Prairie Hills Resource Conservation & Development

Prairie Hills enhances the environment and standard of living in local communities through activities that increase the conservation of natural resources and supports economic development focusing on areas with major economic and social downturn. Prairie Hills works in 10 countries within Illinois where they lead citizens to work together to solve environmental issues.

10) Dekalb County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC)

Dekalb County Economic Development Corporation is an organization that facilitates economic growth within Dekalb County through public or private partnership. For them to achieve the desired outcomes, they identified five goals: attract new business and industry, retain and expand existing industry, provide leadership and support for workforce development, enhance and promote Dekalb County business climate and strengthen public/private partnership.

11) Illinois Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Resource Center

Illinois Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Resource Center allows funding a project to raise capital from Illinois residents which is made available due to the huge challenge in accessing a capital for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Illinois. The crowdfunding is not limited only to accredited investors, but it also allows Illinois residents to invest.

12) Illinois Finance Authority (IFA)

In order to help the residents of Illinois to retain their jobs, improve their quality of life and enhance economic development, Illinois Finance Authority provides access to low-cost and non-conventional financing. Appointed by the Governor and Senate, the IFA is governed by a fifteen-member, non-paid Board and lead by the Executive Director.


Illinois Startup Communities

1) 1871 Chicago’s Entrepreneurial Hub for Digital Startups

1871 Chicago is a base for digital entrepreneurs who want to build and improve their businesses through the power of technology. They have round-the-clock access to the space as well as hundreds of lectures, seminars and other programs which they rely on sponsors for their operations.

2) 25N Coworking

25N Coworking is for people who work and don’t have an office. They provide you with workspaces together with others with different backgrounds giving you a chance to socialize with these people. Different workspaces are available like space for private conversations or a bigger space for conferences.

3) 7wire ventures

7wire uses interpersonal communications to better improve business. They work by gathering the right ideas, right connections and right consumers; then move forward to find suitable folks for the job and apply innovative technology to make the business flourish.

4) Accion Chicago

Accion Chicago collaborates to offer financial services and technical assistance to people who want to invest and build businesses in their neighbourhood mostly to underserved entrepreneurs in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Services offered are customized capital solutions and one-on-one coaching with entrepreneurs to answer relevant questions.

5) Be Office Urban Workspaces

A premier workspace located in Michigan Avenue for the business community that offers amenities and services to ensure business needs are met. Not just complete facilities needed when working, but also professional services such as marketing, legal and accounting.

6) Blue 1647

Every entrepreneur wants their business to have an impact to the community as well as to gain uniqueness among others. Blue 1647 allows entrepreneurs to innovate through people development, workforce development, and business acceleration. The communities program evolves with the need of each member.

7) Catapult Chicago

Catapult Chicago is a working space that also feels like home. A peer selected community of talented and like-minded entrepreneurs. Unlike any other, their amenities include fully equipped kitchen, gaming station, beers for happy hour and free gym membership.

8) TechNexus Venture Collaborative

TechNexus is a venture collaborative that started as an informal gathering place for technologists from a variety of industry and company types, which later on emerged as a new industry of tech-focused companies. Now they are composed of entrepreneurs who are corporate innovators, venture catalysts, and investors in a new, better venture model.

9) Enterpriseworks Chicago

A startup for the entrepreneur community that engages the University of Illinois at Chicago campus that will help benefit the State of Illinois. The University being based at the heart of the city, it allows the entrepreneurs to access a wide array of resources within and beyond the University.

10) City of West Frankfort

A business incubator located in West Frankfort Industrial Park that offers resources and services to the business community in the area. With the city’s rich history, they aim to provide better resources and services to starting and maintaining businesses to help with their economic growth.

11) Sustainable Business Center

Another business incubator located in Galesburg, Illinois that is open to innovation but at the same time conscious not to disrupt the environment around them. A high level of responsibility in the marketplace sustaining standards that will help improve the quality of life of the employees and customers where their product is put to use.

12) Quincy Business and Technology Center (QBTC)

A Center that will help small businesses save time, effort and expenses. Quincy Business and Technology Center offers affordable office space and provides services and equipment useful for your business at no cost or at a minimum cost. It also gives opportunities to meet with other entrepreneurs whom you can discuss similar concerns and ideas with.


Small Business Professional Services in Illinois

1) The Prinz Law Firm

Handling disputes is a serious matter that needs to be crafted carefully. The Prinz Law Firm is an all-in-one package that assures clients get the best service while saving time and money. The firm comprises trustworthy and experienced staff that carefully study the strategic and tactical approaches in dealing with their client’s situation uniquely.


People always feel secure when insured in every aspect of life. Hiscox is focusing on insurances where they have developed expertise and they offer flexible and intelligent solutions where your insurance coverage meets your business needs. Options are also provided for all the different possible risks the business may encounter.

3) Zeller Law LLC

Business transactions go hand-in-hand with legal matters. Zeller Law is a business-focused law firm that gives clients affordable, efficient and professional legal representation throughout Chicago. The firm offers free consultation for those interested to discuss business or estate planning matters.

4) M. Hedayat & Associates

A law firm in Illinois that has been working with different businesses and business owners. A business undergoes stages or phases from the start until either the company grows or becomes bankrupt. M. Hedayat & Associates have expertise in every stage that enables them to give business owners services that safeguards and protect them from the changing status of the market.

5) Distinctive Coaching

Distinctive coaching allows business owners and sales professionals to help improve their business or increase their sales by sharing effective tips and techniques. Small businesses usually have limited time and money and distinctive coaching can be one of the tools that business owners could use to maximize their available resources.

6) Bell Law

A trusted law firm for the residents of Chicago to protect their valued business and personal assets. Aside from legal help that they offer for businesses, they also assist in making wills and trusts. The firm has maintained its work ethic, dedication, and hard work in giving service to their clients.

7) Rock Solid Business Development

Rock Solid aids to help business owners grow their company profitably through business coaching, consulting and management services. Provided in their page are resources from books, articles and websites that they would find helpful for entrepreneurs seeking more information from them.

8) PJ Weiland

An action coach to help business owners become leaders that would be able to use their full potential in achieving their dreams and goals for their business. They not only show you how to increase business revenues and profits, but they also teach you how to develop your business so you can work less, relax more and enjoy owning a business.

9) Ditommaso Lubin Business and Commercial Litigation Attorneys

Business litigation attorneys that have decades of experience and defend clients’ rights who were harmed by unfair business practices. A firm that believes complex business issues demand innovative solutions and seeks optimal results on behalf of the clients they serve.

10) Roth Law Group (RLG)

A law group that counsel clients to confront their legal challenges aggressively, but with purpose to avoid wasted time, money and effort. The owner, being a former Marine Corps Pilot, applied the concepts learned that you must assess the situation, determine your mission, construct a plan, and execute that plan in taking on clients’ legal challenges.

11) The Law Project

A law project providing free, expert legal assistance to entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations that do not have the resources to pay for legal services. Their goal is to ensure The Law Project clients receive high quality professional representation by linking lawyers from Chicago’s major law firms and in-house corporate legal departments.

12) Foresight Accounting

One of the leading firms in Plainfield, Illinois with expertise in serving business and financial communities for them to make informed financial decisions. A firm that offers a broad range of services to individuals, large and small businesses, and other agencies that continually educate themselves to improve technical expertise and the quality of its services.


Your Illinois Startup Toolkit

1) Business Planning

Business planning is highly essential if you want to start your business on the right foot. It allows you to set your business goals and objectives clearly, create strategies to achieve them and set a realistic way of measuring your success. Having a business plan will also enable you to determine if your business idea is feasible or not.

Good thing writing a business plan is so easy these days; with the help of business plan software options like LivePlan; planning a solid business plan that can guide you through every step of the business cycle is now easy to obtain.

2) Online Incorporation Service

Incorporation is one of the more challenging procedures that you have to go through if you want to protect yourself and your business from liabilities, may it be personal, legal and financial. However, the process can be difficult especially for new entrepreneurs or first-time business owners.

If you want an efficient way to incorporate your small business, you can use an online incorporation provider. Three of the best in the industry are IncfileMyCorporation and CorpNet. You have to check them out!

3) Building a Business Website

The internet is a powerful tool in narrowing the gap between businesses and their customers, thus, entrepreneurs have to take advantage of the benefits of technology to the fullest. There are few companies today that are operating without having a business website and if you’re planning to build a startup, you should have one two.

A business website will make you more accessible, visible and reachable. You are also able to market products and services better and deliver the message that your brand represents. And the best news? Building a website is no longer expensive or difficult; there are efficient website building tools that can help you like Bluehost and Rainmaker.

4) Accounting Software

A business can never be successful unless it has an efficient way of managing its finances. Cash flow is the backbone of any business, thus, accounting and bookkeeping are essential skills that a business owner must have. However, if you don’t have any experience with financial management, this can be challenging.

Good thing there are accounting software options that can assist you as you keep track of your expenses and cash flow. You can stay as hands on as possible while receiving the assistance that you need if you use accounting software solutions like Xero, QuickBooks and FreshBooks.


Wrapping Up On Starting A Business in Illinois

Wrapping Up and Starting a BusinessStarting a business is quite difficult, which is why you need to gather all the resources that you can as much as possible. Everything is available for you, all you have to do is use these resources to your advantage. The small business industry in Illinois is highly competitive and difficult to enter, however, if you work hard enough and overcome all the struggles of being a small business, you’ll be able to bring your business to success in no time.

Just remember to get all the help you need, use these resources wisely and you’re good to go. Good luck!

About Ryan James

Half hardworking hermit, half avid adventurer, Ryan founded Startup Savant to simplify entrepreneurship and pay it forward by donating a portion of all revenue to support children's education via