Illinois – 50 States of Incorporation, Rebooted

We’re Midwest bound this week to visit Illinois, also nicknamed as “The Prairie State.” Illinois is home to the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) which is the largest tower in North America. Despite the state’s high taxes, their labor force is skilled and diverse with a vast metropolitan market that offers a home for every type of small business.

If you feel “The Land of Lincoln” calling your startup’s name, here’s what you need to know about incorporating in Illinois.

1. Pick your legal structure. The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity offers a step by step guide to getting your business started in the state. Before you decide on your legal structure, you may want to create a business plan and use their feasibility checklist to evaluate the success of your soon-to-be launched business. Then, you can decide on your entity and choose from sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), C corporations, and S corporations.

2. Now that you know the type of business you are starting up, make sure that you check the availability of your business name and register the name. If the name of the business differs from the owner’s legal name, you will need to find the appropriate county clerk to register the business name. This is referred to as the “Assumed Name Act” and is a requirement for sole proprietorships and general partnerships.

3. If you’re ready to file and register your trademark, visit the Illinois Secretary of State for extra assistance. They offer the ability to conduct trademark searches and more information about the publications, forms and fees required. A trademark application is currently $10 and renewal, assignment, and change of name or address applications are all priced at $5 each.

4. The Secretary of State also offers additional business services for entrepreneurs. These services are predominantly for LLCs, LPs, LLPs, LLLPs, and business/not for profit corporations. A section called “How Do I?” addresses how small businesses may obtain certificates of good standing, annual reports and articles of incorporation, reinstate a corporation, transact business in Illinois as either an LLC or corporation, and how to locate publications and forms for various entities.

5. Still need a little extra assistance? The Secretary of State also has a small business information center where staff are available to discuss funding options for small businesses, the processes required for a small firm securities offering, and to answer questions small business owners may have about the filing process.

Thinking about starting a small business in Illinois? Give us a call at 1(877) 692-6772 or visit us at if you have any questions about forming a business or the regulations required.

Welcome back to the 50 States of Incorporation, Rebooted where we share what it takes to start a business in each of the 50 states. Join us biweekly for advice on how to start an LLC or corporation across the United States.