IL Business Facts
Illinois is nicknamed the Land of Lincoln, after Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. It is also known as The Prairie State, owed to its vast tracts of farmland.
Chicago is the largest city in Illinois, with a population of 8.865 million as of 2020. It is the third most-populous city in the United States, and the surrounding Chicago Metropolitan area has nearly 10 million people. The city has been called a global architectural capital, and is considered one of the most important business centers in the world. It was the site of the world’s first skyscraper, built in 1885.
The Illinois College of Business is nationally recognized as one of the country’s leading business schools.
Aside from the service industry, which contributes the largest dollar amount to the state’s economy, manufacturing and mining are the two top industries in Illinois. It has the 4th largest manufacturing industry in the country, and has exported more than 8 billion tons of coal and 4 billion barrels of petroleum.
Nearly 80% of the land in Illinois is farmland. It is a leading farm income state, and corn is its most important crop, followed closely by Soybeans, hay, wheat, rye, oats, and grain.
Major Companies In Illinois
Walgreen Co. tops the list of Illinois’ largest companies, employing more workers than any other business in the state. They are followed by McDonald’s, Boeing, Caterpillar and a handful of holdings companies, like United Continental, Sears and Mondelez International.
The Chicago startup scene has struggled somewhat in recent years, with entrepreneurs saying there isn’t enough money and Midwest investors claiming there aren’t enough proven entrepreneurs or good ideas. The upside is that there is a lot of wealth and a lot of worth in the city – and a lot of big money for the right startup. Chicago has in fact proven its worth as a solid home for entrepreneurs, especially female founders.
There are 3 basic options: a DBA, a Corporation or an LLC. Click here to learn more about business entities.
Picking a business name is easier said than done – many legal and business problems can arise from picking the wrong name (you can always change it later but the less times you have to do that, the better). In Step 3 we’ll show you how to search for the name in Illinois, but we highly recommend you do the following before searching Illinois state databases:
Ready to start a business in Illinois?
Our Illinois filing services will help you get started as quickly as possible.
Now that you’ve picked your business name, you’re ready to search the name on Illinois databases and register with the appropriate government office.
NOTE: All businesses in Illinois are required to register alternative trade names by filing for a DBA if the business seeks to operate under a different name than what it used when it was formed.
NOTE: We can prepare and file your DBA in any county in Illinois
NOTE: Our LLC formation package includes not only filing the Articles of Organization (we’ll prepare and submit them to the state) but all the necessary post-formation documents completed and personalized to you “ready for signature” as well as our exclusive Startup Wizard which guides you through the complete startup process from formation to bank accounts, logos and more.
NOTE: Our Corporation formation package includes not only filing the Articles of Organization (we’ll prepare and submit them to the state) but all the necessary post-formation documents completed and personalized to you “ready for signature” as well as our exclusive Startup Wizard which guides you through the complete startup process from formation to bank accounts, logos and more.
Your EIN is like your Social Security Number for your company. It’s required for Corporations and LLC’s and optional for DBA’s (if you don’t have any employees, then it’s required). However, if you are a DBA and don’t obtain an EIN you will be forced to use your Social Security Number on many documents so it’s typically recommended you obtain the EIN to prevent identity theft.
TIP: We will obtain your EIN for you if you we form your company.
To keep business and personal expenses separate, you should open a separate account for your business. In addition, getting business credit cards is how you begin to build a company credit profile (corporation or LLC required) and can later qualify for larger loans and lines of credit. To open the account simply call your chosen bank and inquire on the steps to open a business bank account. Typically you’ll need a) your filed paperwork b) your EIN c) a company resolution authorizing your company to open the account (signed by the owners, members, officers or directors, etc.).
TIP: Our business formation service includes a free banking resolution for your use.
Setup your Accounting and Record-keeping system and learn about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying.
Company documents generally are required to be kept for 3 years, including: a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be kept for at least 3 years. View our “Accounting & Financial Management” section for help with setting up an accounting system and purchasing accounting software.
Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).
TIP: We work with a company that can obtain and prepare business licenses and permits for you. Click here to learn more.
If you intend to hire yourself or others as a full or part-time employee of your company, then you may have to register with the appropriate State Agencies or obtain Workers Compensation Insurance or Unemployment Insurance (or both). View our “Employees & Payroll” section for help with hiring employees and processing payroll.
There are many types of insurance for businesses but they are usually packaged as “General Business Insurance” or a “Business Owner’s Policy”. This can cover everything from product liability to company vehicles. A decent policy can run as little as $300/year and offers a great extra level of protection. Click here to view our preferred provider of business insurance online.
Prepare the business as if someone needed to take it over and run it for you. This means have a method to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain your permits, etc. Basically, try to make the operational aspect of the business as automated and efficient as possible so you can concentrate on growing your business. View our “Manage Your Company” section for help with systemizing and automating your business.
Now that you’ve set-up the company for success, you need to get the word out. Create a marketing plan for your products and services that targets your ideal customer. View our “Marketing & Sales” section for help for more information.
DBA: In Illinois, your Fictitious Business Name should be valid for 5 years (unless you change company name or other information listed on the FBN) at which point you’ll need to renew it with the county.
LLC: Illinois requires both annual reports and an annual franchise tax. These are due within a 60-day period immediately preceding the first day of the month of incorporation. The fee is $77.
Corporation: Your business must keep corporate records at its principal place of business. Every year, an officer of your corporation must file an annual report due before the first day of the anniversary month of incorporation. Generally, this report can be filed electronically unless:
Franchise Taxes: Illinois businesses are required to file a $75 annual report with a $25 minimum franchise tax, based on your company’s paid-in capital. The franchise tax form in Illinois is widely decried as being one of the most complicated in the country – it’s therefore advisable to work through your corporate taxes with an accountant.
Our Illinois filing services will help you get started as quickly as possible.
Illinois Secretary of State
213 State Capitol
Springfield, IL 62756
217-785-3000 (outside Illinois)
800-252-8980 (toll free in Illinois)
Illinois State Taxation Departments
Illinois State Labor and Employment Departments
Illinois State Startup Resources
1. Small Business Administration (SBA) Illinois State District Offices
2. SCORE Volunteer Mentors
SCORE resources are very helpful for startups and available from a number of branches throughout Illinois. Connecting with a SCORE mentor can help you avoid common pitfalls as you start your business.
3. Illinois State Legal Statutes:
4. Illinois State Chambers of Commerce
5. Angel.co Illinois State Startups
6. Illinois State Business News
7. Illinois State Small Business Development Center
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Service and staff are really good, I need some documents on urgent basis and they help me a lot to get all the required documents on time. thanks to all team members
Excellent in all aspects. Perfect for new business owners with limited resources but wants to start it off right.
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