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Start a Business

Having your own business takes planning. That’s why we’re here to provide you with information and resources for starting, running, expanding, and relocating a business.

Use Illinois workNet as your planning tool to find information and resources for starting your own business. Start with the resources below and our Business Startup Resources Flyer (PDF Link opens in a new window).

Business Startup Resources Flyer PDF

If you’re interested in starting a small business in your field of expertise and live in Chicago or Cook County, you may be able to get help from the Self-Employment Training Program, a pilot program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor which is only available for a limited time. For more information, view the SET Program Brochure (PDF Link opens in a new window) and visit the SET website External link opens in a new window

SET Program

Business Start-Up & Management Guides

Business Start-up Ideas and Resources:

Business Assistance and Training

Take advantage of free training and counseling services available at a location near you.

The SBA is dedicated to helping you and your small business succeed. There are a variety of online trainings which cover many business topics for you to learn. Visit the SBA training pages External link opens in a new window for more information.

Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) provides workshops and seminars, business coaching and financial assistance to women businesses owners. Click here for more information External link opens in a new window.

Veterans Business Outreach Centers
The Veterans Business Outreach Program (VBOP) is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. Learn more here External link opens in a new window.

The "Counselors to America’s Small Business” is a nonprofit association comprised of volunteer business counselors that offer free and confidential business advice online and face-to-face mentoring. Find a SCORE office near you today External link opens in a new window

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
This program at the City Colleges of Chicago is a practical business management education program that helps small business owners develop the skills they need to grow their companies. Click here for more information External link opens in a new window.

Choosing a Business Location

Find resources and information on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws.

Use the LocationOne Information System to conducting searches for available commercial and industrial sites and building locations throughout Illinois. Click here to conduct a statewide or multi-regional search for Sites  or Buildings in Illinois External link opens in a new window.

Financing Your Business

Part of starting your own business involves figuring out your financials. Find government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

SBA has developed a number of financial programs for small businesses, all of which will be explained in this section.
Illinois Finance Authority
The Illinois Finance Authority provides expert, hands-on support to help businesses get the capital they need for growth. Click here for financing External link opens in a new window.

Check out the Tax Credits page for more resources and incentives.

Alternative Funding

There are several databases which can direct businesses to available funding opportunities.
Finding a Grant
Industry Specific Grants
Federal Business Opportunities

Register a Business Name ("Doing Business As")

The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits. Register your business name with your state government External link opens in a new window.

Tax Identification Number

Learn which tax identification number you'll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Your Employer Identification Number EIN# is used to identify a business entity. Employers with employees, business partnerships, corporations and other types of organizations must obtain an EIN from the IRS. The EIN is also known as an Employer Tax ID and Form SS-4.The resources below will help you get more information about getting an EIN for your new business:
  • Guide External link opens in a new window to the Employer Identification Number
  • Apply External link opens in a new window for an EIN Online
Tax Incentive & Assistance Programs
External Address (Url)
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Illinois workNet Centers are an equal opportunity employer/program. At Illinois workNet Centers, auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. All voice telephone numbers on this website may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment by calling TTY (800) 785-6055 or 711.