10+ Best Small Business Ideas to Start in Illinois [2023])

Explore top small business ideas for Illinois in 2023! Uncover profitable opportunities tailored for the Prairie State's unique market.

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 07, 2024

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This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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Hey there, fellow entrepreneur! Are you ready to take the leap and start your own business? Or maybe you're just curious about what opportunities lie in the Land of Lincoln? Either way, you're in the right place!

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the 10+ Best Small Business Ideas to Start in Illinois [2023]. We're about to embark on an exciting journey, exploring a variety of unique, profitable, and exciting business opportunities that are ripe for the picking in Illinois.

Whether you're an Illinois native, or considering a move to this diverse and dynamic state, we're here to fuel your entrepreneurial spirit and help you find the perfect business idea that matches your passion and skills.

So, buckle up, grab a cup of coffee (or tea), and let's dive into the world of small business opportunities in Illinois. Ready to turn your business dreams into reality? Let's get started!

Catering Services

Catering services are a crucial part of any event planning process. They provide food and beverage services at a variety of events such as weddings, corporate meetings, birthday parties, and more. These services are not just about the food, but also about making sure the guests are well taken care of, and the event runs smoothly. Here are a few reasons why hiring a catering service is a good idea:

  • Professional service: Caterers are experienced in serving large groups of people efficiently and effectively. They have the necessary skills and expertise to handle any unforeseen issues that may arise during the event.
  • Time-saving: Planning and preparing food for a large group can be time-consuming. Catering services take care of everything from planning the menu to serving the food, allowing you to focus on other aspects of the event.
  • Variety of food options: Caterers offer a wide range of menu options and can cater to different dietary needs and preferences. This ensures that all your guests are satisfied with the food.
  • Stress-free: Organizing an event can be stressful. By hiring a catering service, you can rest assured that the food and beverage aspect of the event is taken care of, reducing your stress levels.
image of a Catering Services

Graphic Design Firm

Illinois, especially the city of Chicago, is a bustling hub for businesses of all types. Establishing a graphic design firm in this area can be a great idea for several reasons:

  • Illinois is home to many large corporations and small businesses alike, all of whom need graphic design services for branding, marketing, and advertising.
  • Chicago's vibrant arts scene and numerous design schools provide a large pool of talented artists and designers to recruit from.
  • Being located in a central U.S. location allows for easy communication with clients in various time zones.
  • Illinois offers various grants and incentives for businesses, especially those in the creative industry, which can help in establishing and growing the firm.
  • The diverse culture and population of Illinois can provide a rich source of inspiration for creative designs.
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Examples of successful businesses:

Illinois has been a hub for small businesses, with a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that has fostered the success of various ventures. From innovative tech startups to unique retail concepts, the state has seen numerous small business ideas flourish. Here are some notable examples of small businesses that have found success in Illinois:

  • Groupon: Founded in Chicago in 2008, Groupon revolutionized the daily deals industry by offering discounted vouchers for local businesses. It quickly became a global sensation, reaching millions of users and expanding its services beyond deals.
  • Grubhub: Launched in 2004 in Chicago, Grubhub is an online food delivery platform that connects hungry customers with local restaurants. It has grown into one of the largest food delivery services in the United States, serving millions of customers across numerous cities.
  • Field Notes: A stationery company founded in Chicago in 2007, Field Notes specializes in producing high-quality notebooks, journals, and writing tools. With a focus on design and craftsmanship, it has gained a dedicated following and expanded its product line over the years.
  • Basecamp: Originally known as 37signals, Basecamp is a project management software company founded in Chicago in 1999. It offers a suite of tools to help teams collaborate and manage projects effectively. Basecamp has become a widely recognized name in the tech industry.
  • Threadless: Started in Chicago in 2000, Threadless is an online community-driven apparel company. It allows artists to submit their designs, which are then voted on by the community. The winning designs are printed on various products and sold worldwide.
  • PowerReviews: Founded in Chicago in 2005, PowerReviews provides customer review and ratings software for e-commerce businesses. It helps companies collect and display authentic customer feedback, enhancing trust and boosting sales.

Personal Fitness Training

Personal fitness training in Illinois is a great idea for a multitude of reasons. Not only does it provide a personalized approach to health and fitness, but it also offers a variety of benefits that can greatly enhance your overall well-being.

  • Customized Workout Plans: Personal fitness trainers create a workout plan just for you based on what you want to achieve. This personalized plan gives you better results than a general workout plan.
  • Professional Guidance: They teach the correct way to perform each exercise movement in your routine. They will also guide you on how to do exercises properly and prevent injury.
  • Motivation: Regular sessions with a personal trainer enhance your motivation to continue with a workout regimen. Moreover, you receive the encouragement, energy, and motivation to jumpstart your routine.
  • Accountability: Personal fitness training is a great way to keep yourself accountable. Trainers keep you on track and help you to maintain a consistent workout schedule.
  • Variety and Creativity: Trainers also bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to challenge your body and mind with a variety of exercise routines.

More resources:

Mobile Pet Grooming Service

Mobile pet grooming services in Illinois offer a multitude of benefits to both pets and their owners. With a mobile service, your pet can enjoy a stress-free grooming experience right in the comfort of their own home. This is particularly beneficial for pets who may feel anxious or stressed in unfamiliar environments.

  • Convenience: Mobile pet grooming services come directly to your home, saving you the time and hassle of driving to and from a grooming salon. This is especially beneficial for busy pet owners who may struggle to find time in their schedules for pet grooming appointments.
  • Less stress for your pet: Many pets, particularly cats and older dogs, can become anxious or stressed when taken to a grooming salon. With a mobile grooming service, your pet can be groomed in a familiar environment, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Personalized attention: Mobile pet groomers typically work with one pet at a time, ensuring that your pet receives their undivided attention. This can result in a higher quality grooming service and a more enjoyable experience for your pet.
  • Flexible scheduling: Mobile pet grooming services often offer more flexible scheduling options than traditional grooming salons, making it easier to find a time that works for you.
  • No exposure to other animals: With a mobile pet grooming service, your pet is not exposed to other animals that may be sick or aggressive. This can be particularly beneficial for pets with health issues or those who do not interact well with other animals.

Home-based Bakery

Operating a home-based bakery in Illinois presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs with a passion for baking. Illinois, particularly the city of Chicago, is known for its vibrant food scene and residents who appreciate high-quality, homemade baked goods. This, combined with the convenience of operating from home, makes it a potentially lucrative business venture.

  • Illinois has a large population with a diverse palate, providing a wide customer base for a variety of baked goods.
  • Home-based bakeries have lower overhead costs as there is no need to lease or purchase a separate commercial space.
  • Illinois has favorable cottage food laws, allowing entrepreneurs to legally operate a bakery from their home kitchen.
  • Operating from home allows for a flexible work schedule, making it an ideal venture for those seeking a work-life balance.
  • The rise in demand for unique, artisanal, and customized baked goods provides a niche market for home-based bakeries.
  • With the growth of online platforms and delivery services, reaching customers has never been easier, even for home-based businesses.

Related business ideas:

Custom Clothing And Tailoring

Custom clothing and tailoring in Illinois is a great idea for a multitude of reasons. This service provides you with unique, personalized clothing that fits perfectly and reflects your individual style. Furthermore, it supports local businesses and ensures that you're receiving high-quality products.

  • Perfect Fit: Custom tailoring ensures that your clothes fit you perfectly, accentuating your best features and hiding your flaws. This is a major advantage over off-the-rack clothing, which is designed to fit a generic body shape and often requires adjustments.
  • Personal Style: With custom clothing, you can express your personal style. You can choose the fabric, color, pattern, and design details, creating a unique piece that reflects your personality and taste.
  • Quality Materials: Custom tailors typically use high-quality materials, ensuring that your clothing is durable and comfortable. You can feel the difference in the materials and see the difference in the craftsmanship.
  • Support Local Businesses: By choosing custom clothing and tailoring in Illinois, you're supporting local businesses and contributing to the local economy. You're also likely to receive more personalized service than you would at a large chain store.

Event Planning Service

Event planning services in Illinois are a great idea for several reasons. Illinois, being a diverse state with a rich cultural heritage and vibrant economy, hosts a multitude of events ranging from corporate gatherings, weddings, festivals, concerts, and more. These events require careful planning and execution, which is where an event planning service comes into play.

  • Expertise and Experience: Professional event planners have the necessary expertise and experience to handle all aspects of event planning, from venue selection, decoration, catering, to entertainment and more.
  • Time-saving: Organizing an event can be time-consuming. By hiring an event planning service, individuals and businesses can save valuable time and focus on other important tasks.
  • Cost-effective: Event planners have established relationships with vendors and can negotiate better deals, making the event more cost-effective.
  • Attention to Detail: Professional event planners pay meticulous attention to every detail, ensuring that nothing is overlooked and the event runs smoothly.
  • Stress-free: Planning an event can be stressful. An event planning service takes on this stress and ensures a seamless and successful event.

Home Cleaning Service

Home cleaning services in Illinois are a great idea for several reasons. They offer a convenient solution for busy homeowners who may not have the time or energy to keep their homes clean and tidy. They also provide professional-level cleaning that can help maintain the value and appearance of your home. Additionally, these services can be tailored to fit your specific needs and schedule, giving you more control over your home's cleanliness.

  • Convenience: A home cleaning service takes the burden of housekeeping off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on other important tasks or simply relax.
  • Professional Cleaning: Home cleaning services use professional-grade equipment and cleaning solutions that can provide a deeper clean than you might achieve on your own.
  • Customizable: Whether you need a one-time deep clean or regular maintenance, cleaning services can be tailored to fit your specific needs and schedule.
  • Healthier Living Environment: A clean home is a healthier home. Regular cleaning can reduce dust, allergens, and bacteria, improving the overall air quality in your home.
  • Time-saving: Instead of spending your weekends scrubbing floors and dusting furniture, you can use that time to do things you enjoy.

Social Media Consulting

Social media consulting is a crucial aspect of business strategy in the modern world. In Illinois, where a diverse range of businesses operate, this service is particularly beneficial. Here are some reasons why:

  • Increased brand awareness: Social media consultants can help businesses in Illinois to increase their brand visibility online. They can develop strategies that enhance brand recognition and reputation.
  • Targeted marketing: Through social media consulting, businesses can target their marketing efforts more effectively. Consultants understand how to reach specific demographics and tailor content to engage different audiences.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to traditional marketing methods, social media marketing is more cost-effective. A consultant can help businesses get the most out of their budget.
  • Competitive advantage: With a social media consultant, businesses in Illinois can gain a competitive edge. They can stay ahead of trends, use advanced tools and techniques, and stand out in the crowded digital space.
  • Customer engagement: Social media consultants know how to foster engagement and build relationships with customers. They can create strategies that encourage interaction, loyalty, and trust.

Local Tour Guide Service

Illinois, known for its rich history, diverse culture, and bustling cities, offers a plethora of attractions for tourists. A local tour guide service in Illinois can significantly enhance the experience of visitors by providing them with in-depth knowledge and insights about the local attractions. Here are some reasons why a local tour guide service in Illinois is a good idea:

  • Expert knowledge: Local tour guides possess expert knowledge about the history, culture, and significance of various attractions. They can provide tourists with interesting facts and stories that they may not find in guidebooks.
  • Personalized experience: Local tour guides can customize tours based on the interests and preferences of the tourists, ensuring a more personalized and enjoyable experience.
  • Time and cost-effective: With a local tour guide, tourists can avoid wasting time figuring out routes or transportation. The guides know the best times to visit certain attractions to avoid crowds, and can also suggest affordable local eateries and shops.
  • Overcoming language barriers: For international tourists, local tour guides can help overcome language barriers and facilitate better interaction with the locals.
  • Safety: Local tour guides are aware of the areas to avoid and can ensure the safety of tourists, especially in crowded or less tourist-friendly places.


Founder and CEO

I'm Nick, co-founder of newfoundr.com, dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs succeed. As a small business owner with over five years of experience, I have garnered valuable knowledge and insights across a diverse range of industries. My passion for entrepreneurship drives me to share my expertise with aspiring entrepreneurs, empowering them to turn their business dreams into reality.

Through meticulous research and firsthand experience, I uncover the essential steps, software, tools, and costs associated with launching and maintaining a successful business. By demystifying the complexities of entrepreneurship, I provide the guidance and support needed for others to embark on their journey with confidence.

From assessing market viability and formulating business plans to selecting the right technology and navigating the financial landscape, I am dedicated to helping fellow entrepreneurs overcome challenges and unlock their full potential. As a steadfast advocate for small business success, my mission is to pave the way for a new generation of innovative and driven entrepreneurs who are ready to make their mark on the world.