Chicago is home to plenty of things: Da Bears, deep dish pizza, Millennium Park, tall skyscrapers, etc. If you’re looking to add your business to that list, there is plenty to know! Plenty of businesses, both big and small, call Chicago home. If you’re planning to do the same, this post will help guide you through some of the process.
The city’s official website provides prospective business owners in Chicago with a thorough guide to getting the process underway. The whole, helpful list can be found here, but we’ve placed some of the highlights below…
Before you establish a business, please consult with a Corporate/Business Law Attorney or Certified Public Accountant (CPA), who specializes in your industry, for advice about what type of business entity will meet your business needs and what your legal obligations will be. The type of business entity you choose will depend on three primary factors: liability, taxation and record-keeping. Additional information may also be obtained from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or SCORE Chicago.
Once you have consulted with a licensed business formation professional, and determined the most appropriate business entity for your needs, then you, or your licensed representative, must register your business entity with the proper government agency:
- Sole Proprietors and General Partnerships, operating under an assumed name, must register with the Cook County Clerk’s Office
- All other business entity types (i.e. Limited Partnership (LP), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), Corporation, or Not-for-Profit Corporation (NFP)) must register with the Illinois Secretary of State
- Accordingly, you, or your licensed representative, must also register for your business taxes with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR).
Business Education Workshops
BACP offers free Business Education WBusiness Education Workshops every Wednesday and Friday. The classes are open to the public and hosted at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., in Room 805 and 1103. Class topics focus on start-up operations, financing, marketing, social media and more. Classes are taught by industry professionals, not for profit agencies, and city employees.
The Business Start-up Certificate Program
The Business Start-Up Certificate Program is free to all and designed to expose the entrepreneur and veteran business owner to the essential elements of a successful business at any phase of their business idea. If you are thinking about starting a business, if you want to license your business, or if your focus is expanding your business; enroll in the Business Start-Up Certificate Program!
Every business license, location expansion and change of location application needs to be reviewed and approved by Zoning before a business license application can be processed.
The City of Chicago is divided into distinct zoning districts that reflect the diversity of business and neighborhood uses. Each zoning district has different regulations about the types of business activities that are permitted.
During a zoning review, we look at the following:
- Proper classification of business activity
- If the business activity(s) is allowed in a specific district
- Compliance with parking, landscape, and building requirements
- Verification of valid driveway permit
It is very important that you check the zoning requirements of your proposed business location carefully. It is critical that you
- DO NOT enter into any financial commitments (i.e. sign a lease) unless you are certain that you are in the proper zoning district that allows the proposed business activity
- DO NOT assume the previous owner’s zoning designation applies
Why is a building permit required?
A building permit is required for new building construction, renovations, the installation of heating and cooling systems, or any plumbing or electrical work. If construction is necessary, you need to apply for building permits through Department of Buildings. A building permit is needed to make sure that the project you are constructing meets the minimum criteria of the Chicago Building Code. The Chicago Building Code exists to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare.