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How to Start a Business in Illinois With No Money

Starting a business in Illinois can be difficult, especially if you don’t have any money. However, there are still ways to get your business off the ground without spending a lot of cash. Here are some tips on how to start a business in Illinois with no money.

Choose a Business Idea

The first step to starting a business is to come up with a good business idea. If you’re not sure what kind of business you want to start, spend some time brainstorming or doing research on different types of businesses. Once you have a few ideas, sit down and think about which one would be the best fit for you and your goals.

Name Your Business

Once you have a business idea, you’ll need to choose a name for your company. This can be one of the most challenging parts of starting a business, but it’s important to choose a name that is catchy and easy to remember. Try to avoid using puns or inside jokes that only you and your friends will get – you want your name to be appealing to everyone.

making logo

Create a Business Plan

After you’ve chosen a name for your business, the next step is to create a business plan. This document will outline your business goals, strategies, and how you plan on making money. Creating a business plan can be time-consuming, but it’s an essential step in starting a successful business.

Suggested Reading: Hobbies You Can Turn Into a Money-Making Business 

Choose a Business Structure

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting a business is choosing the right business structure. There are several different options to choose from, so it’s important to do your research and select the one that makes the most sense for your company. The most common business structures include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.

Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need to obtain certain licenses and permits. Failure to obtain the proper licenses and permits can result in hefty fines, so it’s important to do your research and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork in order.

Certificate of Registration

Businesses in Illinois that are classified as retailers, resellers, or providers of goods or services to which sales tax is applied must register for a Certificate of Registration from the Illinois Department of Revenue. You can apply online or mail a Form REG-1 to the Illinois Department of Revenue. Once you have registered, you will be issued a Certificate of Registration and a Taxpayer ID Number, which you will need to file your sales tax return. 

You will also need to renew your registration every year. If you move your business to a new location, you will need to update your registration information. You can do this online or by mailing a Form REG-1 to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

See Also: When Do 1099s Need to be Issued?

Illinois Department of Revenue

Professional or Occupational License

Depending on the type of business you plan to operate, you may need to obtain a professional or occupational license from the state in which you will be doing business. For example, businesses that sell liquor, tobacco, or firearms are typically required to obtain licenses from state boards.

You can find more information about the specific license requirements for your business through the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. In general, the licensing process involves completing an application and paying a fee.

Local Licenses

In addition to state licenses, specific cities, counties, or towns may also require their own local licenses. For example, a business that sells food might need to obtain a license from the city’s health department. A business that sells alcohol might need to obtain a license from the county’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. To find out if any local licenses apply to your business, check out your county and town’s government websites. Once you have all the required licenses, you’ll be able to officially open your doors for business.

Examine Insurance Options in Illinois

As a business owner, you’ll need to make sure you’re properly insured. This will protect you and your business in the event of an accident or lawsuit. There are several different types of insurance available, so it’s important to speak with an insurance agent to determine which ones are right for you. Some common types of insurance for businesses include:

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance is a type of insurance that covers damages that occur as a result of your business activities. For example, if someone is injured at your workplace, your general liability insurance will cover the cost of their medical treatment. Similarly, if you damage someone’s property while conducting business, your general liability insurance will cover the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged property. 

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General liability insurance is an essential part of any business’s risk management strategy, as it can help to protect you from financial ruin in the event of an accident or injury. 

Product Liability Insurance

If you manufacture or sell products, it’s important to have product liability insurance. This type of insurance protects you from legal action if a product you sell causes injury or damage. Whether it’s a faulty toy or a defective appliance, if your product is responsible for harm, you could be sued. Product liability insurance can help cover the cost of a lawsuit, as well as any damages that may be awarded. 

It’s important to note that this type of insurance does not cover losses due to poor quality or workmanship. So if you’re selling products, make sure you’re protected against any potential liabilities.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, is a type of insurance that businesses can purchase to protect themselves from financial damages caused by errors or omissions in their professional services. This coverage can help to pay for legal expenses and settlement costs if the business is sued for negligence or malpractice. Many businesses are required to carry this type of insurance by their clients or by state law. 

Even if it is not legally required, professional liability insurance can be a wise investment for any business that provides services to clients, as it can help to protect the business from the potentially devastating financial consequences of a lawsuit.


Workers' Compensation Insurance

Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance that covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. In Illinois, this type of insurance is required if you have employees. Workers’ compensation insurance can help to protect your business from liable lawsuits, and it can also help to ensure that your employees have the financial support they need if they are injured on the job. 

There are a variety of workers’ compensation insurance plans available, so it is important to research different options in order to find the best coverage for your business. By law, all businesses in Illinois with employees must have workers’ compensation insurance, so make sure to purchase a policy before hiring any staff.

Become Creative When Sourcing Your Startup Fund

Many people think that you need a lot of money to start a business, but this isn’t always the case. There are several ways to get funding for your business without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas:

Personal Savings

This is often the easiest way to finance a new business. If you have money saved up, you can use it to start your company. This can be a good option if you don’t want to take on debt or give up equity in your business. However, it’s important to make sure that you have enough saved up to cover all of your start-up costs. Otherwise, you may find yourself in financial difficulties down the road. 

man working on his laptop

Small Business Loans

When it comes to small business loans, Illinois businesses have a few different options to choose from. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good place to start, as they offer a variety of loan programs that can be tailored to fit the needs of most businesses. However, many banks and credit unions also offer to finance small businesses, so it’s worth checking with local lenders as well. 

In general, the terms of small business loans will vary depending on the lender, so it’s important to compare rates and terms before deciding on a loan. 


Essentially, crowdfunding platforms allow people to solicit donations from a large group of people. This is usually done by setting up a campaign and providing information about the cause or project. Donors can then choose to contribute money to the campaign. One of the benefits of crowdfunding is that it allows people to tap into a large pool of potential donors. This is particularly helpful for causes that might not be able to secure funding through traditional channels. 

Another benefit is that it can be a quick and easy way to raise money. In some cases, campaigns can reach their funding goals within hours or days. Of course, not all crowdfunding campaigns are successful. But for those that are, crowdfunding can be an extremely effective way to raise money.

Friends and Family

Asking friends and family for money can be tricky, but if you have someone who’s willing to invest in your business, it can be a great way to get started. This can be a great way to get the funding you need without having to deal with the hassle of a bank loan. Of course, it’s important to approach this situation carefully. You don’t want to put your relationship at risk by asking for more money than you can realistically repay. 


Once you’ve figured out how much you need, sit down with your friend or family member and explain exactly what the loan will be used for. Then, draw up a contract that outlines the terms of the loan and have both parties sign it. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no hard feelings later on. 

Find the Right Location for Your Business

The location of your business is important for several reasons. First, you’ll want to make sure it’s in a place that’s convenient for your customers or clients. Second, you’ll need to make sure it’s zoned for the type of business you’re running. And finally, you’ll want to consider the cost of rent or mortgage payments. If you’re not sure where to start, the Illinois Small Business Development Center can help you find the perfect location for your business.

Market Your Business

Once you’ve got your business up and running, you’ll need to start marketing it to attract customers. There are many ways to market a business, and the best approach will depend on your budget and target audience. Some common marketing strategies include:

Social Media

Using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your business is a great way to reach a large audience with little to no cost. Just be sure to post interesting and engaging content that will appeal to your target market.

Content Marketing

Content marketing [1] is a strategic approach to marketing that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. When it comes to digital public relations and marketing, content is king. By creating high-quality, keyword-rich blog posts, you can attract new customers to your website and help your business rank higher in search engine results.

create a website

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool that can help businesses boost sales and keep customers engaged. By sending out monthly newsletters or special offers, businesses can stay top of mind and encourage customers to take action. Email marketing can also be used to segment customers and send highly targeted messages. By using email marketing effectively, businesses can drive more traffic to their website and increase sales.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can be an effective way to reach new customers and grow a business. By placing ads on platforms like Google and Facebook, businesses can target their ads to users who are likely to be interested in what they have to offer. Paid advertising can be a great way to quickly build awareness for a new business or product. And, because you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, it can be a cost-effective way to reach new customers. 


Does Illinois Require a Business License?

In Illinois, there is no need to obtain a statewide business license in order to operate your business. However, certain businesses will need to apply for and obtain a Certificate of Registration or License from the Illinois Department of Revenue. This is typically required for businesses that sell or lease taxable goods or services within the state. The process for obtaining a Certificate of Registration or License will vary depending on the type of business you are operating.

Does It Cost to Register a Business in Illinois?

Registering a business in Illinois is a straightforward process that can be completed online in a matter of minutes. However, there are some businesses that may be required to pay license fees. While there is no fee to register a business in Illinois, these other taxes and fees should be taken into account when starting a business in the state.


So these are the steps of starting a business without spending any money upfront. Keep in mind that these steps require hard work and dedication; but with the right attitude and support system, you can make your startup dreams come true.

Charles McMillan
Charles McMillan
Charles is a family man, an entrepreneur, and a writer. He is skilled in finding the balance between efficiency, affordability, and high-quality offerings when it comes to business services. He’s on a continuing mission to discover and rediscover the most popular LLC services, while sharing his most accurate assessment and review to help business owners like himself.