Resource Links

Business Plans

The Ultimate Guide to Business Plans - Comprehensive guide to writing a business plan for an e-commerce store.

Palo Alto Software has a very large number of sample business plans.

FormSwift - SWOT Analysis - An excellent tool for analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business, from the Start-up FormSwift.

Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Business - Not only a no-cost resource on how to write a business plan, but also information on many topics associated with starting a business.  The site is maintained by Workcomplab which has expertise on workers' compensation coverage.

Data Tools

U.S. Census Bureau website where you can search any zip code, city, county, metro area or state for demographic data. Very helpful in defining the size of your potential customer base.

The Small Business Development Centers National Information Clearinghouse has a huge amount of statistics for various industries, trends, and customer data.


eBusiness Resources - A link to our own resource page for eBusiness and online commerce.

Finance Resources / Getting Funding for Your Business

Best Business Credit Card Guide:
This directory has the most popular business credit cards today. The directory is updated on a weekly basis to reflect any new changes, to add new cards, and to remove expired cards. The business credit cards directory is a highlights the most important features for each card. The directory is maintained and updated consistently to make sure it’s always current.


WalletHub is the first-ever website to offer free credit scores and full credit reports that are updated on a daily basis. WalletHub performs three primary functions, providing: 1) Customized credit-improvement advice; 2) Personalized savings alerts, and 3) 24/7 wallet surveillance. Such features are supplemented by reviews of financial products, professionals and companies with a diverse community of subject matter experts.  They also offer a very user friendly directory to compare credit cards on the market, based on a number of factors including credit level, annual fees, rewards, etc.

Average Wages by Occupation in Illinois
To view occupational employment and wage estimates for the state of Illinois


A guide to successfully find and secure a small business loan

Startup Wisdom: 27 Strategies for Raising Business Capital, a free e-book discussing a variety of techniques to raising capital from loans and crowdfunding to more non-traditional methods such as factoring and vendor financing.  This is an easy to read book that explains all the ways a business can get funding to start or grow.

General Business Tools/Resources
The Internet's largest source of information for small business.

  • Starting a Business
  • Financial Management
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Personnel Management
  • Internet Business
  • General Management
  • International Business
  • Buying a Business
  • Business Plans
Many small business tools including:

  • how to start a business
  • writing a business plan
  • marketing
  • accounting, tax, and law
  • employee benefits
  • loan payment calculator

Business Owner's Toolkit has many sample forms and guides for almost any business topic. provides reviews of various business resources (web hosting, email marketing, how to start a blog, eCommerce platforms) written by actual users that have posted comments and reviews.

FitSmallBusiness has a large database of information taken from private and public sources to provide small business owners with the advice and guidance they need in all areas of the business.

Deluxe (as in the check company) has an easy to use site with interesting statistics about small businesses, as well as many other resources and tips for starting a business.

Hiring Considerations

Hiring for a job - This website provides some basic information on how to create a job posting, how to interview, and how to hire for the job. 

Legal and Liability (Insurance) Resources has plain English explanation of legal concepts for business owners.'s small business section has a plain English explanation of insurance for small businesses.

The Company Corporation does incorporation for you.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, where you can obtain information and guides on preparing patent applications and trademarks. You can also search for existing patents and download forms.

Illinois Secretary of State website where you can search for corporate name availability and access incorporation form

FormSwift - Incorporating - A guide on how to incorporate and the steps involved from the Start-up FormSwift

FormSwift - Independent Contractor - A guide on the use and determination of independent contractors from the Start-up FormSwift

Insureon Insurance Policy Types - This comprehensive list provides information on the most popular types of insurance policies small business owners should purchase, along with policies that many small business owners would not think to purchase but could be important to have.

Marketing Resources

Constant Contact helps small businesses, associations, and nonprofits connect with their customers, clients, and members. With its email marketing, online survey and event marketing tools—supported by its expert personal coaching and support—help all types of small businesses and organizations create professional-looking email newsletters and insightful online surveys and begin a dialogue with their customers.

Survey Monkey is a website for creating free surveys.

Word of Mouth Marketing Association, WOMMA, is where you will find the latest on marketing strategies.

Small Business Organizations and Resources

Small Business Administration website containing information on starting & financing a small business, SBA resources, and a classroom where you can learn how to prepare a business plan.

Women's Business Center directed at the special needs of women-owned businesses. Information available on a variety of topics including marketing, management, technology, and doing business with the government

Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, the state agency responsible for assisting small businesses. Contains information, guides, loan program information, and referrals to other resources.

Business Owners Idea Cafe website is operated by top entrepreneurs that include varieties of award-winning resources.

BizBuy Sell can show you more than 25,000 businesses that are currently for sale. lists numerous publications you can subscribe to for free.

Tax Resources

IRS website where you can download and print every tax form and publication or ask questions.

Illinois Department of Revenue site where you can obtain information and forms on sales tax, income tax and more.

Website Design and Hosting

Website Builders - This site will provide you a list of the top ten rated website builders.  These builders will allow for you to build your own website, saving money in the process.

The Ultimate guide to Website Builders - Has some similar sites to the above, but a more comprehensive listing.

Building your own website - This site details a variety of topics on how to build your own website.

How to Create a Website with Videos - Comprehensive guide to building a website hitting all the key issues including WordPress with links to videos.

Internet Statistics and Facts - Filled with a range of facts associated with the internet such as most popular content management system, and what is the most common domain name extension.

ECommerce Issues:

How to Start an Online Store with WordPress - Good step by step guide with some interesting eCommerce facts.

How to Build an Ecommerce Store with Shopify - Shopify has become a very popular eCommerce platforms. This article explains how to set up an account, add products, accept payments, handle taxes and shipping, and integrate with your domain name.

Hosting Issues:

What is Web Hosting? - This is a nice beginners guide to web-hosting, a critical decision all small businesses must make before their website goes public.

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