Last updated 4/7/2011
This BHC SBDC Website provides an extensive list of regional, state, federal, and other resources. These online resources provide general business information:
- Step by Step Guide to Starting a Business in Illinois, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity First Stop Business Information Center
- Frequently Asked Questions, U.S. Small Business Administration
The IL SBDC can link an established business to resources in areas such as business planning, market research, marketing and sales, e-commerce, financial analysis, business valuation and accounting so that the owner can proactively and strategically address a variety of issues to sustain and grow the business.
Business owners who anticipate high growth or who are interested in government contracting, international trade, manufacturing competitiveness, or advanced technology may be referred to other programs within the Illinois Small Business Development Center Network.
One of the most important things to do before starting your business is to plan and research your idea to ensure that your business has a favorable chance for success, will meet your expectations, and will provide an adequate reward for the risk involved. Sound business planning will indicate whether you should proceed with investing your financial and other resources, as well as those of lenders and/or other investors.
The business plan helps you evaluate your business on paper to determine if the idea is worth the investment of more time and resources. It precisely defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your firm’s résumé. It describes the products and services you will sell; the customers to whom you will sell them; the production, management, and marketing activities needed to produce your offerings; and the projected profit or loss that will result from your efforts. It is critical to validate your beliefs before committing to a lease, leasehold improvements, purchase of real estate, equipment and inventory, etc.
Another important benefit of the planning process is that you will project the amount of financing needed for start-up and the early stages of your business. This gives banks and investors the information needed before a credit decision is made, making the business plan a useful tool in securing capital before start-up.
The business plan is not a static document used only for short-term planning and financing; it is a constantly evolving strategic tool that should be applied to management decisions throughout the life of the business.
You will be your own most important employee, so an objective appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses is essential. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Am I a self-starter?
- How well do I get along with a variety of personalities?
- How good am I at making decisions?
- Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?
- How well do I plan and organize?
- Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation?
- How will the business affect my family? Can I support my family and myself
during the early stages of the venture when cash may be short?
Few people start a business with all of the bases covered. Honestly assess your own experience and skills, then look for partners or key employees to compensate for your deficiencies. Also identify key business resources such as your local Small Business Development Center that can provide assistance, ideally early in the planning process.
The Illinois Small Business Development Center (IL SBDC) provides confidential one-on-one, no-cost business counseling to help prospective and established business owners make sound decisions about the feasibility of starting a business and the successful operation of operating a small business.
The IL SBDC offers low-cost training, including the Small Business Certificate Program and Accounting Made Easy Using QuickBooks.