Best Small Business Resources in the Chicago Area

Small map with pin depicting Chicago, IL

Starting a business is a life-changing experience. Illinois has dozens of great resources to help entrepreneurs get started. Our team researched and vetted organizations in the Chicago area and compiled our list of recommended resources in this article.

You can also read our guide to starting a business in Illinois.

Resources Available in your Area

Duman Entrepreneurship Center

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Fundraising

Description

Duman Entrepreneurship Center offers one-on-one business advice on a variety of topics. They offer workshops, peer-based entrepreneurial training, and mentorship. Their six-week startup accelerator program enables budding entrepreneurs to form a complete business plan and establish a concept feasibility. Funding is also available to teams that can present a business plan and a 12-month cash flow projection.

Restrictions

There is a nominal fee for attending workshops or subsequent advising.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

216 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60606
855-463-6587
duman@jvschicago.org


1871

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Coworking

Description

1871 is a co-working space. It offers all a slew of amenities along with exceptional networking. Events are public but may have a small cost to attend.


Chicago Inventors Organization

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Networking

Accepts Walks In

Description

Chicago Inventors Organization is a nonprofit center that focuses on helping independent inventors commercialize a product (physical or virtual). CIO encourages members to obtain a patent, copyright, and trademark to protect their inventions, while also helping members develop business plans. This organization also helps inventors find funding and is the only organization of its kind for entrepreneurs in the Chicago area. There are monthly meetings headed by experts in various fields, from marketing to 3D printing, that are free to members and open to the public for a small fee. Membership in the organization provides one-on-one consulting opportunities.

Restrictions

This organization is focused exclusively on independent inventors.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

2150 South Canalport Ave, #2A-9
Chicago, IL 60608
312-850-4710


Chicago SBDC

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Financial

Offers Free Service

Description

The greatest strength of the SBDC is their free, confidential, 1-on-1 business mentoring for anyone who seeks it. Sometimes in order to be considered for mentoring from one of their professional business advisors, you may have to attend a class/workshop or at least present your business plan. SBDC's are located all throughout the state and you should use the SBDC closest to your location if possible, but you can often transfer to a different location if they do not fit your needs.


Chicago SCORE

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Networking

Offers Free Service

Description

SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) is a leading, nation-wide organization that has assisted millions of entrepreneurs over its 50+ years of operation. SCORE is a resource partner of the SBA that offers access to a network of experienced business leaders who donate time to mentor entrepreneurs and small business owners. They also host free or inexpensive workshops online and at 300 local chapters around the United States. Mentoring can be conducted either in person or remotely and is always free and confidential, no matter how often you take advantage of this service.


Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Research
  • Networking

Description

The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce works to support Illinois-based businesses, and particularly, Hispanic-owned and operated businesses. IHCC offers a wide range of services to help brand-new entrepreneurs and experienced business owners alike. IHCC offers 8 separate programs, including a representative from the Small Business Development Center on site for one-on-one consulting.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1212, C/O 1871
Chicago, IL 60654
312-425-9500


MATTER

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Coworking
  • Networking

Description

Matter is a non-profit organization that specializes in helping entrepreneurs and innovators in the healthcare industry. Matter provides workshops, mentorship, connections with investors, and more. The goal of Matter is to help nurture entrepreneurs' healthcare business ideas, turning them into industry-changing solutions.

Restrictions

Focused on the healthcare industry.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1230
Chicago, IL 60654
312-374-8243
info@matter.health


Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Fundraising
  • Coworking
  • Networking

Description

This center is primarily a coworking space, offering many supportive services to members that can foster business development. Membership is free for University of Chicago faculty, staff, and student to join the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Local entrepreneurs with no affiliation to the university may join and participate for a low fee. Polsky offers entrepreneur courses for beginners and those who are advanced. Members will have access to a curated list of mentors from a variety of industries and access to a large network including funding.

Restrictions

Low quarterly fee for non-students.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

5454 S. Shore Dr., 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60615
773-702-1692
polsky@uchicago.edu


Small Business Advocacy Council

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Coworking
  • Networking

Description

The Small Business Advocacy Council focuses on using political advocacy to create a level playing field for small businesses. This organization engages with political groups on the local, state, and federal level to ensure Chicago small businesses are equally represented. SBAC also hosts quarterly pitch competitions for any entrepreneur looking to start a company. The competition is a great networking event for local entrepreneurs and awards a prize package to the winning venture.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

120 W Madison St., Suite 520
Chicago, IL 60602
312-548-8608


Womens Business Development Center WBDC Chicago

Here are the Principle Service Areas:

  • Mentoring
  • Business Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Networking

Description

Women's Business Centers are nationwide programs established by the SBA to assist women in starting small businesses. Some of these centers are combined with other local organizations and use that relationship to offer even more services. Each Women's Business Center has counselors who can provide mentorship and assistance with business planning. Women’s Business Centers also provide a network of other businesses, and some have loan programs available

Restrictions

The Women's Business Centers are, as the name implies, meant for women primarily.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

8 S. Michigan Avenue., 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60603
312-853-3477
wbdc@wbdc.org