Resource Portal

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These resources have been compiled to provide guidance and education to small business owners, entrepreneurs and startups.

Currently, this portal gives you access to over 150 online points of contact. Many of the organizations cited may also be reached directly for additional information and specific questions. With your help, this list will continue to grow. Be sure to check back periodically to see what we’ve added.

Got a resource we should be listing? Please let us know about it.

For a more extensive listing of searchable resources for small business, please enter here (registration required)


  1. Business Start-Up Guide
  2. Apply for a Business License – City of Chicago – Small Business Center
  3. Illinois Secretary of State – LLC Formation
  4. US Small Business Administration
  5. Network – Small Business Advocacy Council
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How do I start my business?

Step 1. Choose an Idea
Step 2. Plan Your Business
Step 3. Form Your Business
Step 4. Register for Taxes
Step 5. Open a Bank Account
Step 6. Set Up Accounting
Step 7. Obtain Permits & Licenses
Step 8. Get Insurance
Step 9. Define Your Brand
Step 10. Establish a Web Presence

Where do I check to see if my chosen business name is available?

Log on to the United States Patent and Trademark website to see if your chosen name has been claimed and trademarked.

How do I choose my business structure?

Business structure affects your tax liability, how you raise money, the paperwork required to file and your personal liability. Choose carefully. Though you may be able to change your structure in the future, it may come with some restrictions.

A quick 5 step process:

  • Determine the number of owners.
  • Evaluate tax benefits and drawbacks.
  • Evaluate liability issues.
  • Determine the record keeping requirements.
  • Seek professional advice. Talk with a business attorney or accountant before making your final determination.
  • The Small Business Administration offers free a business guide to help you through the process.
What licensing would I need in order to start my business?

A business license grants you the right to operate a business within the city. Start by contacting your city and/or municipality’s business license department. You will fill out an application and upon doing so, the zoning department will check that your area is zoned for your business purpose (this will not happen in a day). If you are starting a business out of your home, investigate thoroughly. Residential neighborhoods tend to have stricter zonging laws. It does not mean you will not be granted a license, you just may need to file a variance.

City of Chicago:

How do I fund my business?

As an entrepreneur, we have the biggest hurdle in initiation. How do I build an inventory with minimal capital? If you are starting from ground one, here are some simple avenues for funding.

  • Friends and family
  • Personal Savings
  • Home equity line
    Small Business Loan (SBA) programs will most likely take your house if there is equity as part of the collateral. Therefore, you may be better off and with better terms, just using a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)
  • Credit cards
  • Micro Lenders – such as ACCION Chicago (funded by Banks such as MB Financial Bank) – offer a better chance at start up loans.
  • Minority Group funding
  • Women’s Business Development center has start up micro financing programs as well
How do I get the word out about my business?

There are many ways to market your business. It takes time, creativity and a marketing plan. First and foremost though, build a website. One with content that reflects your vision and the product/service you provide. Depending on the level of content and functionality required on your site, the cost to create will vary.

There are many companies that can assist you in this process. Ours was built by one of our sponsors: What A Great Website. However, login to the Resource Portal to start your personal search.

But let’s not forget about Social Media. It is extremely easy to create a business page on the any of the social media platforms. However, before you create one, know what you want to convey. Have adequate, appropriate and CLEAR content, so the viewer knows what your business provides.

As a business, LinkedIn is key. Facebook is well-known and easy. It also offers the ability for others to pay for your product/service through the site. And Twitter is a great place to post current content. All of these platforms offer your company accessibility and being in the forefront at all times providing you keep up with the content. Remember though – it still takes work to maintain and stay current.

 Where can I find Resources to help me plan and grow?

There are many resources available for your education. In our Resource portal, we have a listing on a vast array of resources, but also list some articles we have found helpful to entrepreneurs.

Another site we find extremely informative is One Complete Business (also within the portal). They offer podcasts on all things “business and business-ish”. Not only are they free, they are insightful and engaging.

But the best place to start, is right here


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