Opening a business

Step 1: Business Planning

The most successful businesses and leaders have a clear plan in place – a “Business Plan” – that highlights your product, expertise, funding strategy, growth goals and everything else that will contribute to your business’s success. Nearly all lenders require this for business loans and it is a widely respected practice.

Thinking of opening your business in Lincoln Park? Download Doing Business in Lincoln Park for demographics, market analyses, and insider information about our neighborhood. Want an insider’s opinion on your business plan? We’re happy to meet with you.

The City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) is a “one-stop-shop” for businesses and provides business consultants to guide businesses through local government process. This office also provides resources on how to start your business and informative seminars on how to grow are offered by the City of Chicago.

Looking to start a restaurant? Check out the City of Chicago’s helpful Restaurant Start-up Guide.

Step 2: Determine Your Legal Entity

Whether you’re a sole proprietor, LLC, corporation, non-profit or other business model, you will need to identify as such with the State of Illinois.

Step 3: Register Your Business with the State

If you plan to do business in Illinois, regardless of if you’re based in Illinois, you’ll need to register as an employer with the State of Illinois.

Step 4: Check the Zoning and Find a Location

Are you looking for retail or office space in Lincoln Park? We can help! Call us to discuss your needs and we’ll find an available property in our neighborhood that works for your business.

Once you’ve narrowed down locations for your business. You need to check on the zoning. There are several different zoning classifications in the City of Chicago and checking the address for the building you hope to lease before you sign anything is critical to ensuring you can complete what you set out to do as a business professional. We highly recommend working with a local attorney if the business you that you are hoping to open requires any changes or special variance to the zoning.

Step 5: Licensing

The City’s Small Business Center issues business licenses and regulates the business activities of all industries in the City of Chicago. To apply for a business license you may apply online or meet in-person with one of the City’s business consultants. Understanding what can be done with each business license is critical to doing business legally in the City of Chicago.

Small Business Center
City Hall, Room 800
121 N. LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60602

Step 6: Permitting

Depending on the license type, an inspection by one or various City departments must be conducted prior to license issuance. Permits are also required for outdoor signage, awning, sidewalk cafes, and other decorative ornaments.

For helpful information about signage permits and neighborhood design guidelines, download our Lincoln Park Guide to Good Storefront Design brochure.

Step 7: Other Requirements

For some industries a background check or other requirements must be met before licenses and permits can be issued. Check the City of Chicago’s website for more information.

Step 8: Join the LPCC!

The LPCC is a helpful resource and can help spread the word about your opening, provide referrals for the services and customers your business needs to succeed! Join today.

Step 9: Open your doors!

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