July 17, 2019  
  Entrepreneurial Resources - Advice for Illinois Entrepreneurs  
  Chicago, Illinois Resources for Entrepreneurs  
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Starting a Business in Chicago, Illinois

Thinking about starting a business in Chicago, Illinois? This step-by-step guide walks you through the major decisions you should consider before opening a new business in Chicago.

Chicago, Illinois Demographic Information

Chicago has an active business community that includes small businesses, mid-sized businesses and large businesses.

To give you a better feel for Chicago demographics for small businesses, we have tabulated the small business sizes, based on number of employees, for business in Chicago.

Business Size# of
1-4 Employees 99447
5-9 Employees 30212
10-19 Employees 20825
20-49 Employees 15896
50-99 Employees 6162
100-249 Employees 3663
250-499 Employees 1068
500-999 Employees 477
1000+ Employees 270
All Chicago Businesses 178020

As a new Chicago entrepreneur, you may also be interested in the table below. It shows how many businesses there are in Chicago for each business category. By looking at this chart, you can get a general sense for how much competition there is in the business niche that you are pursuing.

Business Type # of
Abrasive Product Manufacturing 8
Adhesive Manufacturing 3
Advertising Agencies 248
Air and Gas Compressor Manufacturing 1
Air Traffic Control 1
Aluminum Die-Casting Foundries 5
Aluminum Extruded Product Manufacturing 1
Aluminum Foundries (except Die-Casting) 6
Ambulance Services 10
Amusement Arcades 10
Animal (except Poultry) Slaughtering 12
Appliance Repair and Maintenance 15
Apprenticeship Training 8
Architectural Services 421
Armored Car Services 5
Art Dealers 93
Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing 4
Automatic Vending Machine Manufacturing 2
Automobile Driving Schools 13
Automobile Manufacturing 2
Automotive Exhaust System Repair 46
Automotive Glass Replacement Shops 35
Automotive Parts and Accessories Stores 171
Automotive Transmission Repair 40
Baked Goods Stores 38
Ball and Roller Bearing Manufacturing 1
Barber Shops 34
Beauty Salons 483
Bed-and-Breakfast Inns 9
Beer and Ale Merchant Wholesalers 13
Beer, Wine, and Liquor Stores 294
Blind and Shade Manufacturing 7
Blood and Organ Banks 7
Boat Building 1
Boat Dealers 12
Book Publishers 34
Book Stores 104
Books Printing 4
Bottled Water Manufacturing 1
Bowling Centers 13
Breakfast Cereal Manufacturing 1
Breweries 1
Broadwoven Fabric Finishing Mills 4
Broadwoven Fabric Mills 5
Broom, Brush, and Mop Manufacturing 4
Building Inspection Services 19
Burial Casket Manufacturing 2
Business and Secretarial Schools 1
Business Associations 215
Business to Business Electronic Markets 10
Cable and Other Program Distribution 18
Cafeterias 32
Camera and Photographic Supplies Stores 16
Canvas and Related Product Mills 12
Car Washes 88
Carpet and Rug Mills 1
Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Services 29
Caterers 107
Cement Manufacturing 1
Cemeteries and Crematories 21
Charter Bus Industry 13
Cheese Manufacturing 1
Child and Youth Services 167
Child Day Care Services 605
Children's and Infants' Clothing Stores 45
Cigarette Manufacturing 3
Civic and Social Organizations 198
Claims Adjusting 26
Clay Refractory Manufacturing 1
Clothing Accessories Stores 88
Coffee and Tea Manufacturing 6
Coin-Operated Laundries and Drycleaners 200
Collection Agencies 32
Commercial Bakeries 36
Commercial Flexographic Printing 8
Commercial Gravure Printing 2
Commercial Lithographic Printing 117
Commercial Photography 121
Commercial Screen Printing 30
Commodity Contracts Brokerage 179
Commodity Contracts Dealing 190
Community Food Services 28
Computer and Software Stores 67
Computer Facilities Management Services 33
Computer Storage Device Manufacturing 1
Computer Systems Design Services 372
Computer Training 30
Concrete Block and Brick Manufacturing 2
Confectionery and Nut Stores 63
Confectionery Merchant Wholesalers 34
Construction Machinery Manufacturing 4
Consumer Lending 96
Continuing Care Retirement Communities 15
Convenience Stores 269
Convention and Trade Show Organizers 85
Convention and Visitors Bureaus 7
Cookie and Cracker Manufacturing 7
Copper Foundries (except Die-Casting) 2
Copper Rolling, Drawing, and Extruding 3
Cosmetology and Barber Schools 17
Couriers 60
Court Reporting and Stenotype Services 63
Creamery Butter Manufacturing 1
Credit Bureaus 13
Credit Card Issuing 8
Credit Unions 79
Crown and Closure Manufacturing 2
Curtain and Drapery Mills 17
Custom Compounding of Purchased Resins 1
Custom Computer Programming Services 437
Custom Roll Forming 5
Dance Companies 13
Deep Sea Freight Transportation 4
Dental Laboratories 46
Diagnostic Imaging Centers 31
Diet and Weight Reducing Centers 11
Digital Printing 13
Dimension Stone Mining and Quarrying 2
Direct Life Insurance Carriers 80
Direct Mail Advertising 45
Direct Title Insurance Carriers 37
Directory and Mailing List Publishers 17
Discount Department Stores 22
Display Advertising 26
Distilleries 1
Document Preparation Services 40
Dog and Cat Food Manufacturing 2
Doll and Stuffed Toy Manufacturing 2
Drafting Services 10
Dried and Dehydrated Food Manufacturing 2
Drilling Oil and Gas Wells 1
Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages) 693
Dry Pasta Manufacturing 4
Drywall and Insulation Contractors 45
Educational Support Services 68
Electric Power Distribution 10
Electrical Contractors 290
Electronic Auctions 1
Electronic Capacitor Manufacturing 2
Electronic Computer Manufacturing 1
Electronic Connector Manufacturing 2
Electronic Shopping 44
Elementary and Secondary Schools 263
Emergency and Other Relief Services 10
Employment Placement Agencies 177
Engineering Services 272
Envelope Manufacturing 6
Environmental Consulting Services 42
Exam Preparation and Tutoring 55
Exterminating and Pest Control Services 26
Fabric Coating Mills 1
Facilities Support Services 32
Family Clothing Stores 202
Family Planning Centers 10
Farm Management Services 1
Farm Supplies Merchant Wholesalers 3
Fats and Oils Refining and Blending 1
Fine Arts Schools 75
Finish Carpentry Contractors 173
Fish and Seafood Markets 12
Fish and Seafood Merchant Wholesalers 17
Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers 199
Flat Glass Manufacturing 1
Flight Training 4
Floor Covering Stores 80
Flooring Contractors 99
Florists 127
Flour Milling 2
Fluid Milk Manufacturing 3
Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing 13
Food (Health) Supplement Stores 80
Food Product Machinery Manufacturing 3
Food Service Contractors 267
Footwear and Leather Goods Repair 11
Footwear Merchant Wholesalers 13
Formal Wear and Costume Rental 19
Fossil Fuel Electric Power Generation 4
Framing Contractors 50
Freight Transportation Arrangement 122
Fresh and Frozen Seafood Processing 1
Frozen Specialty Food Manufacturing 12
Fruit and Vegetable Canning 6
Fruit and Vegetable Markets 38
Full-Service Restaurants 1,771
Funeral Homes and Funeral Services 110
Fur and Leather Apparel Manufacturing 1
Furniture Merchant Wholesalers 98
Furniture Stores 201
General Automotive Repair 535
General Freight Trucking, Local 284
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 37
General Rental Centers 11
General Warehousing and Storage 60
Gift, Novelty, and Souvenir Stores 196
Glass and Glazing Contractors 35
Glove and Mitten Manufacturing 1
Gold Ore Mining 1
Golf Courses and Country Clubs 14
Grantmaking Foundations 128
Graphic Design Services 413
Greeting Card Publishers 4
Gypsum Product Manufacturing 4
Hand and Edge Tool Manufacturing 15
Hardware Manufacturing 7
Hardware Merchant Wholesalers 61
Hardware Stores 113
Hat, Cap, and Millinery Manufacturing 1
Hazardous Waste Collection 1
Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal 3
Heating Oil Dealers 4
Historical Sites 2
HMO Medical Centers 3
Hobby, Toy, and Game Stores 50
Home Centers 26
Home Furnishing Merchant Wholesalers 88
Home Health Care Services 120
Home Health Equipment Rental 5
Homes for the Elderly 49
Household Appliance Stores 29
Human Rights Organizations 38
Hydroelectric Power Generation 3
Industrial Building Construction 14
Industrial Design Services 25
Industrial Launderers 37
Industrial Mold Manufacturing 11
Industrial Pattern Manufacturing 3
Industrial Valve Manufacturing 3
Institutional Furniture Manufacturing 12
Insurance Agencies and Brokerages 846
Interior Design Services 219
International Trade Financing 16
Internet Publishing and Broadcasting 38
Internet Service Providers 47
Interurban and Rural Bus Transportation 4
Investigation Services 44
Investment Advice 307
Iron and Steel Forging 7
Iron and Steel Mills 7
Iron Foundries 5
Irradiation Apparatus Manufacturing 2
Janitorial Services 313
Jewelry (except Costume) Manufacturing 25
Jewelry Stores 279
Junior Colleges 12
Kidney Dialysis Centers 29
Land Subdivision 79
Landscape Architectural Services 54
Landscaping Services 188
Language Schools 15
Lead Pencil and Art Good Manufacturing 2
Leather and Hide Tanning and Finishing 4
Lessors of Other Real Estate Property 40
Libraries and Archives 13
Lime Manufacturing 1
Limited-Service Restaurants 1,957
Limousine Service 59
Linen Supply 12
Local Messengers and Local Delivery 36
Locksmiths 23
Luggage and Leather Goods Stores 16
Luggage Manufacturing 5
Machine Shops 81
Mail-Order Houses 51
Malt Manufacturing 1
Manifold Business Forms Printing 5
Manufactured (Mobile) Home Dealers 2
Marinas 22
Marine Cargo Handling 6
Marketing Consulting Services 377
Marking Device Manufacturing 6
Masonry Contractors 157
Materials Recovery Facilities 8
Mattress Manufacturing 9
Meat Markets 50
Meat Processed from Carcasses 41
Media Buying Agencies 25
Media Representatives 60
Medical Laboratories 41
Medicinal and Botanical Manufacturing 3
Men's and Boys' Neckwear Manufacturing 1
Men's Clothing Stores 118
Metal Can Manufacturing 4
Metal Heat Treating 5
Metal Household Furniture Manufacturing 6
Metal Stamping 34
Metal Tank (Heavy Gauge) Manufacturing 3
Metal Window and Door Manufacturing 13
Mineral Wool Manufacturing 3
Miscellaneous Intermediation 103
Mixed Mode Transit Systems 1
Mobile Food Services 10
Monetary Authorities-Central Bank 3
Mortgage and Nonmortgage Loan Brokers 256
Motion Picture and Video Distribution 6
Motion Picture and Video Production 170
Motor and Generator Manufacturing 3
Motor Vehicle Body Manufacturing 1
Motor Vehicle Metal Stamping 8
Motor Vehicle Towing 36
Motorcycle Dealers 3
Museums 31
Music Publishers 6
Musical Groups and Artists 62
Musical Instrument and Supplies Stores 24
Musical Instrument Manufacturing 5
Nail Salons 54
Narrow Fabric Mills 1
Natural Gas Distribution 16
Navigational Services to Shipping 3
New Car Dealers 84
New Housing Operative Builders 60
News Dealers and Newsstands 43
News Syndicates 10
Newspaper Publishers 54
Nonferrous Forging 2
Nonresidential Property Managers 201
Nonwoven Fabric Mills 1
Nursing Care Facilities 95
Office Administrative Services 245
Office Equipment Merchant Wholesalers 97
Office Supplies and Stationery Stores 67
Offices of Bank Holding Companies 27
Offices of Certified Public Accountants 332
Offices of Chiropractors 161
Offices of Dentists 1,017
Offices of Lawyers 3,031
Offices of Optometrists 111
Offices of Other Holding Companies 77
Offices of Podiatrists 99
Offices of Real Estate Appraisers 110
One-Hour Photofinishing 8
Open-End Investment Funds 5
Ophthalmic Goods Manufacturing 7
Ophthalmic Goods Merchant Wholesalers 4
Optical Goods Stores 81
Outdoor Power Equipment Stores 7
Outerwear Knitting Mills 3
Packaging and Labeling Services 17
Packaging Machinery Manufacturing 3
Packing and Crating 7
Paging 7
Paint and Coating Manufacturing 23
Paint and Wallpaper Stores 29
Painting and Wall Covering Contractors 148
Paper (except Newsprint) Mills 1
Paperboard Mills 1
Parking Lots and Garages 472
Passenger Car Leasing 3
Passenger Car Rental 64
Payroll Services 43
Pen and Mechanical Pencil Manufacturing 1
Periodical Publishers 130
Perishable Prepared Food Manufacturing 9
Pet and Pet Supplies Stores 45
Pet Care (except Veterinary) Services 59
Petroleum Bulk Stations and Terminals 7
Petroleum Refineries 3
Pharmacies and Drug Stores 379
Photography Studios, Portrait 107
Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas 2
Plastics Bag Manufacturing 4
Plastics Bottle Manufacturing 3
Plastics Plumbing Fixture Manufacturing 1
Plate Work Manufacturing 8
Political Organizations 42
Polystyrene Foam Product Manufacturing 3
Port and Harbor Operations 2
Portfolio Management 260
Poultry Processing 5
Powder Metallurgy Part Manufacturing 1
Precision Turned Product Manufacturing 23
Prepress Services 25
Primary Smelting and Refining of Copper 1
Printing Ink Manufacturing 8
Private Mail Centers 29
Professional Employer Organizations 34
Professional Organizations 132
Public Relations Agencies 158
Quick Printing 66
Racetracks 1
Radio Networks 14
Radio Stations 74
Railroad Rolling Stock Manufacturing 3
Ready-Mix Concrete Manufacturing 11
Real Estate Credit 160
Real Estate Investment Trusts 21
Record Production 14
Recreational Goods Rental 5
Recreational Vehicle Dealers 1
Refrigerated Warehousing and Storage 8
Reinsurance Carriers 23
Remediation Services 17
Repossession Services 4
Residential Property Managers 451
Residential Remodelers 481
Retail Bakeries 85
Reupholstery and Furniture Repair 44
Rice Milling 1
Rolled Steel Shape Manufacturing 3
Roofing Contractors 94
Rooming and Boarding Houses 8
Sales Financing 82
Sanitary Paper Product Manufacturing 1
Satellite Telecommunications 3
Savings Institutions 182
Saw Blade and Handsaw Manufacturing 1
Scheduled Freight Air Transportation 15
Scheduled Passenger Air Transportation 75
Schiffli Machine Embroidery 1
School and Employee Bus Transportation 35
Seafood Canning 1
Secondary Market Financing 5
Securities and Commodity Exchanges 16
Securities Brokerage 319
Security Guards and Patrol Services 108
Septic Tank and Related Services 5
Setup Paperboard Box Manufacturing 3
Sewage Treatment Facilities 1
Sheet Metal Work Manufacturing 27
Ship Building and Repairing 2
Shoe Stores 277
Siding Contractors 22
Sign Manufacturing 44
Silverware and Hollowware Manufacturing 4
Site Preparation Contractors 46
Snack and Nonalcoholic Beverage Bars 370
Soap and Other Detergent Manufacturing 9
Soft Drink Manufacturing 5
Software Publishers 82
Software Reproducing 3
Solid Waste Collection 23
Solid Waste Landfill 3
Sound Recording Studios 32
Soybean Processing 1
Special Needs Transportation 17
Specialty Canning 2
Spice and Extract Manufacturing 3
Sporting Goods Stores 75
Sports and Recreation Instruction 41
Sports Teams and Clubs 15
Spring (Heavy Gauge) Manufacturing 6
Spring (Light Gauge) Manufacturing 12
Steam and Air-Conditioning Supply 2
Steel Foundries (except Investment) 1
Steel Wire Drawing 4
Storage Battery Manufacturing 1
Support Activities for Forestry 1
Surface Active Agent Manufacturing 1
Surface-Coated Paperboard Manufacturing 1
Synthetic Rubber Manufacturing 2
Tax Preparation Services 208
Taxi Service 44
Telecommunications Resellers 27
Telemarketing Bureaus 26
Telephone Answering Services 9
Telephone Apparatus Manufacturing 4
Television Broadcasting 22
Temporary Help Services 266
Temporary Shelters 41
Testing Laboratories 17
Textile Machinery Manufacturing 3
Theater Companies and Dinner Theaters 93
Thread Mills 1
Tile and Terrazzo Contractors 43
Tire and Tube Merchant Wholesalers 5
Tire Dealers 77
Tire Retreading 4
Title Abstract and Settlement Offices 33
Tobacco Stores 27
Toilet Preparation Manufacturing 15
Tortilla Manufacturing 10
Tour Operators 32
Tradebinding and Related Work 23
Translation and Interpretation Services 27
Travel Agencies 309
Truss Manufacturing 1
Underwear and Nightwear Knitting Mills 1
Used Car Dealers 126
Used Household and Office Goods Moving 62
Used Merchandise Stores 113
Vending Machine Operators 27
Veterinary Services 72
Video Tape and Disc Rental 142
Vocational Rehabilitation Services 128
Voluntary Health Organizations 58
Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters 3
Watch, Clock, and Part Manufacturing 3
Water Supply and Irrigation Systems 1
Web Search Portals 10
Wholesale Trade Agents and Brokers 265
Window Treatment Stores 15
Wired Telecommunications Carriers 198
Women's Clothing Stores 344
Wood Container and Pallet Manufacturing 19
Wood Office Furniture Manufacturing 9
Wood Preservation 1
Wood Window and Door Manufacturing 7
Zoos and Botanical Gardens 5

Choosing a Company Name

A good company name can give a big boost to a new startup. It might seem like an easy thing to do, but there are many things to consider when naming a business.

Even if the name doesn't do it by itself, many naming experts believe there should be a story behind the name that ties into your company mission.

Numerous company naming issues are discussed in more detail in this article: Branding Advice.

There's one other important factor when naming a business. Since you are planning on starting a business in Chicago, it's critical that you ensure that no other Illinois company is using the business name you want to use.

Company Formation in Chicago, Illinois

It's essential that your business is formed as a legal entity that is separate from its owners. Doing so will protect you from personal liability for business debts and obligations.

The entity you form can be a corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership or other structure.

Incorporating is a very popular way to form a business. Of course, you have to decide which type of corporation to form and where to incorporate. Just because you are starting a business in Illinois, you don't necessarily have to incorporate in Illinois. In fact, you can incorporate in the state of your choosing. For example, it's very popular to incorporate in Delaware, and incorporating in Nevada has become very trendy as well. Don't forget, though, that you will have to register as a foreign entity in all states that you do business in.

There's a lot to know about forming a company. We recommend you read some of the educational articles about company formation that are availabe on our site, such as Piercing the Corporate Veil. You may also want to seek the advice of an lawyer. Finally, if you are starting a business in Chicago, Illinois, our information on Incorporating in Illinois may be a useful resource if you decide to incorporate in Illinois.

Don't Skip the Business Plan

A business plan is critical in laying a solid foundation for your business success. Indeed, your business plan is your game plan for how you hope to grow your business. Failure to write a business plan is a recipe for disaster.

Before you start writing a business plan, we suggest you skim Business Plan Contests. You should also take advantage of free business counselors available to you through your local SCORE chapter in Illinois.

Marketing Your New Company

To rise above the crowd in Chicago and build your business, you need a great marketing plan.

We have some helpful resources on this site for entrepreneurs who are working on marketing plans. National TV Spot Advertising Rates is an article that will stimulate a few thoughts on your marketing plan. That's just a taste of the many useful articles we have on Marketing a Small Business.

The Art of Selling

Do you know how to sell? In order to attract customers to your new Chicago business, you need to focus on sales.

Why should customers buy from you instead of buying from competitors? Let us help you refine your selling techniques through our many useful sales advice tips.

Anticipating Prospect Responses offers some helpful tips on how to sell. It's one of several good articles on our site regarding Entrepreneurial Selling.

Interviews With Chicago Entrepreneurs

Enjoy these interviews we've had with Chicago entrepreneurs.

Never Give Up

As an entrepreneur in Chicago, you won't be working for the boss anymore. You are the boss.

From this point on, you control your own destiny.

We are here to help Chicago businesses to be successful. We want to be there for you to answer your business questions, whether you are a new Chicago entrepreneur who is just getting started or you are already up and running with your new venture.

More Entrepreneurial Resources for Starting a Business in Chicago, Illinois

Here are more links that we believe will help you be successful in starting a business in Chicago.



Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs

Buying a Business

Writing a Business Plan

Raising Money


Small Business Marketing

Advertising Advice

Public Relations -

Customer Service Tips

Entrepreneurial Selling

Workplace Safety