How to Start a Business in Illinois in 2022: The Ultimate Guide, Step-by-Step

The business sector in every country contributes to its economy boost. That’s why it’s most valued in any country. In a state like Illinois which is known as the 4th largest manufacturing industry in the United State, there are rooms for many business ventures.

The report shows that Illinois nicknamed the Land of Lincoln and the Prairie States is considered one of the most important business centers in the world. And aside from the service sector, the business sector is another top booming sector in the state.

So, if you’ve been thinking about how to set up a business in Illinois and you don’t know how to start, follow me closely in this article.

In this article, I have put down a Step-by-Step guide that can help you on your journey to setting up any kind of business in Illinois. In addition, I listed some of the trending business opportunities you can venture into in the state.

My advice to you is that you carefully read to the last full-stop without skimming. I bet, you will be glad you did!

The table of contents below will help you navigate easily!

To have thought of starting a business in Illinois you might probably have some handy information about the state.

But notwithstanding, I would like to give you some facts about the state that you might not really know before we delve into how to start a business there.

About Illinois

According to Wikipedia, Illinois is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It has the fifth-largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states.

The state has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. Talking about its economy, the state’s gross state product was estimated to be US$909 with a minimum wage rising to $15 pe hour by 2025, making it one of the highest in the nation.

The state’s economy is made up of Agriculture, Manufacturing, Services, Investments, and the Energy sector, with manufacturing being one of the leaders.

There are more than 1.2 million small businesses operating in the state of Illinois. These businesses employ 2.5 million people, which is 45.1% of the state’s workforce and nearly 20% of the entire population.

Small businesses account for 99.6% of the state’s private enterprise, making them a vital part of Illinois’s economy.

What are the Top Companies in Illinois?

There are over 100 companies in Illinois but I will be listing the top ones. Below is a list of the top 10 companies in Illinois:

1Walgreen CoDeerfield
2McDonald’sOak Brook
5United Continental HoldingsChicago
6Sears HoldingsHoffman Estates
7Mondelez InternationalDeerfield
8Veolia Environmental ServicesNorthbrook
10AbbottNorth Chicago
11Advocate Health CareDowners Grove

What Type of Business Should I Start in Illinois?

In setting up a business in Illinois you must first ask your self, What type of business do I want to start?

Though this question might look simple, if you don’t have full knowledge of the type of businesses that exist in the state and the ones that are worth going for, you might make the wrong decision.

Remember, that a particular type of business is existing and booming in a state, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will boom in another state. This is why it’s expedient you have a handful of information about the trending businesses in Illinois that you can start.

Below are the types of business structures in Illinois that you can organize your new business, along with a brief description of each.

  • Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership
  • A Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • “C” Corporation
  • “S” Corporation

Sole Proprietorship

This is also known as one man business. In this type pf business, the owner is different from the business. To start this business, the owner called sole proprietor is required to register with their local county clerk’s office for registration under the Assumed Name Act. 

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A Limited Partnership

This type of business in Illinois comprises of a general partner and limited partners. The partners do not take part in the day-to-day activities of the business.

Limited Liability Company

This is the non-corporate form of doing business that provides its owners with limited liability, flow-through tax treatment and operating flexibility through participation in management of the business. 

Limited Liability Partnership

In this type of business structure, partners are not liable for the debts, obligations and liabilities of the business.


This is a distinct legal entity and is the most complex form of organization. A corporation may sell shares of stock, which are certificates indicating ownership, to as many people as is desirable. 

What are the Available Business Ideas in Illinois?

Illinois has the highest number of business startups in the Midwest last year and the sixth-highest nationally. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, in 2020 over 169,500 businesses started in Illinois.

Also, the state saw a nearly 45% surge in new businesses in 2020 compared with the previous year. That was the biggest year-over-year percentage increase in the Midwest and fourth-largest in the nation.

Currently, Illinois has over 100 startup business scattered in all parts of the state. Below are some of them:

What are the Available Business Ideas in Illinois?

Check out this list!

  • Drive-in Movies Theater
  • Grocery Store
  • Towing Company
  • Clothing Boutique
  • Gas Station
  • Security Guard Company

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Start a Business in Illinois

When you want to start up a business in Illinois, there are a few key steps you must follow to start and run a profitable business. These steps include:

  • Having the Best Idea
  • Get a Feasible Business Plan
  • Form your Business
  • Apply for Licenses and Permits
  • Open a Bank and Credit Accounts
  • Obtain Business Insurance
  • Get a Physical Location
  • Build an Online Presence

#1. Having the Best Business Idea

Choosing what type of company to start is the first step toward being a business owner. Look for a concept that aligns with your passions, personal ambitions, and natural abilities.

Also, consider your skills, resources at hand, availability, and the reasons why you want to form a business.

This will keep you focused when things get difficult and increase your chances of success significantly.

And when you have finally chosen one, double-check the merit behind your business idea by asking yourself these four questions:

  • Does my idea solve a problem?
  • Is my idea profitable?
  • How will technology influence my industry?
  • Is there a market for my idea?

To get started, scroll up to see the list of some business idea opportunities I’ve compiled and make a pick right away!

#2. Get a Feasible Business Plan

The next step to take is to get a soild and feasible business plan. The easiest way to ascertain the success of any business even before it is formed is its planning process.

If you don’t plan, there is every tendency that you will fail in the business no matter your skills and available resources.

So, it’s expedient that before you invest or start any business, you create a plan. The plan serves as a road map that will lead you through the journey!

Business Name

It can be difficult to come up with a company name. You’ll want to choose a brand name that complies with Illinois naming guidelines, is memorable to your clients, and can be used as a URL.

Hence, when you consider the above obligations, you would pick a name that you and your target market can easily memorize. To do this effectively, you can

  • Check Google For Easy Names To Pronounce
  • Research companies with easy names
  • Perform a domain search
  • Complete an LLC search
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Note, if you want to form a Limited Liability Company, you must have “Limited Liability Company” attached to your company’s name. You must also avoid certain words and phrases like “corporation,” “Corp.,” “incorporated,” “Co.,” “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” and “LP.

If you are forming a corporation, the words “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” or “limited” must be included but separate from the other words in your business name.

Development of New Products

What is the dilemma that your company solves? What would make your product or service stand out from the crowd?

Also, consider cost, testing, and analysis when discussing product development. Would the manufacture process be too costly? Can you make a profit or will you be digging yourself into a hole? 

Sales & Marketing

Find out about your target market; people who would be interested in what you will be selling and how you turn them into customers.

People and Partnerships

What roles will you need to hire and what professional relationships will you need to form in order to succeed?

Financial Planning

This should be the major part of your planning process. Check whether you will have enough capital to pay for rent, subscription fees for business tools, payroll, marketing, and other expenditures.

Decide how many clients or sales you will need in order to break even.

#3. Form Your Business

Once you’re done planning, the next step is to form your business. This is where registering your business as a legal entity comes in.

Registering your business helps improve credibility and also helps protect you from personal responsibility.

Basically, forming a business depends largely on the type of business. That is to say that business formation varies. On this note, I will be giving you insight into how to form a business.

How to File a DBA in Illinois

To form DBA is also called “sole proprietorship”, “Doing Business As”, or a “Fictitious Name”, you must follow the steps below:

  • Check your business name by calling the County Recorder or visiting their website.
  • Obtain the forms from the county to register your DBA. Each county has its own specific filing requirements, but most accept the online filing options found here.
  • File the forms with the County. Some counties require the form to be notarized and published.

How to Form an LLC and a Corporation in Illinois

Creating an LLC is a perfect choice for most small businesses. LLCs are simpler to set up and administer than other company organizations, and they have preferential tax treatment. To form an LLC ensure the following;

  • That your company name choice is available by searching the Illinois Business Entity Database and doing a name search on the State of Illinois website.
  • Then, get a professional Registered Agent. This agent will provide their address and forward any important documents to you.
  • File the correct paperwork with the Illinois Division of Corporations called “Articles of Organization”. 

Note: You can set up an LLC in Illinois for $500.

Before I wrapped up this art, let’s talk about why having a registered Agent is important.

Why Registered Agents?

Any business in Illinois is required to have a registered agent and a registered office. The registered agent serves as a trustworthy point of contact between your company and the department, receiving tax and legal documentation on your behalf.

Your registered agent can be you, a member of your LLC or company that is 18 years old and lives in Illinois, or a licensed registered agent service that can receive correspondence on your behalf.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each registered agent option, so read up on them and decide what is best for you.

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How to Form an Online Business

For an online business, you will have to register your business name as a domain name.

Furthermore, to avoid trademark infringement issues, you should do a federal and state trademark check to make sure the name you want to use is not the same as or too similar to a name already in use.

#4. Apply for Licenses and Permits

Tax Registration

To register for tax, you must register with the Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR). Employer withholding taxes must be registered with the DOR if your company will have employees.

Both forms of taxes, as well as other company taxes, can be registered online via the MyTax Illinois website.

EIN ( Employer Identification Number)

This number will be given to you by the IRS if your company has employees or is taxed separately from you.

And even if you aren’t legally bound to have an EIN, there are several business reasons to do so. Oftentimes, banks ask for an EIN to open a business account, and other companies with whom you do business also ask for an EIN to process payments.

Note, you can get an EIN without any filing fee by completing an online application on the IRS website.

Regulatory Licenses

Different state agencies give regulatory licenses. For instance, you can get Environmental permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and employment-related licenses from the Illinois Department of Labor.

#5. Open a Bank and Credit Accounts

One of the objectives of any business entity is to make money.

In fact, in the planning process, the financial aspect of the business which includes both expected expenses and incomes is taken into consideration.

This shows that building a business without a financial report is like building a house on the air. Aside from that, opening a bank account can help protect your personal account from any risk.

This is because when your personal and business accounts are not separated, your personal assets are at risk.

Additionally, having a credit account can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business’s name, better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

To open an account, you can check out any of the following Business Banks in Illinois listed below:

  • Bank of America
  • BMO Harris Bank
  • First Midwest Bank
  • Associated Bank
  • Woodforest National Bank

#6. Obtain Business Insurance

Business insurance will shield your company and your personal properties from the effects of unforeseeable events like personal injury litigation and natural disasters.

An insurance provider may assist you in determining the best coverage options for your business, which could include general liability insurance to protect you against personal injury and property damage claims.

It may also be cyber liability insurance, which pays for legal and settlement costs in the event of a computer security breach.

#7. Get a Physical Location

Where you choose to set up shop is critical, whether it’s downtown Chicago, its immediate suburbs, or somewhere else in Illinois.

The idea is to find somewhere with the best resources that make managing your business easier. For every downside of the location (and there will be some), there should be 3 upsides.

#8. Build an Online Presence

This is where build an official business website comes in. No one is implying that your company website must be magnificent, but you must have a digital presence in order to be taken seriously.

Customers should be able to Google you and learn more about your business. They must be able to accept digital payments. In certain cases, they’ll need contact forms and blog material to get a sense of what your brand is all about.



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