CHICAGO, IL – Small businesses and freelancers are getting lots of attention in the media lately. From freelance concerns regarding benefits and payment protection to the rampant sprouting of business incubators and co-working spaces, starting a business is clearly no longer just a dream for a select few. More and more, Chicago has been lavishing small business enterprises with strategic partnerships, as well as providing local, technical and financial resources that ensure success.
Starting a small business has to start somewhere. Luckily, there’s the city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). The BACP ensures a fair and vibrant marketplace for both businesses and consumers. BACP licenses businesses and public vehicles, provides business education and access to resources, enforces the Municipal Code and protects consumers from fraud.
The BACP’s Small Business Center (SBC) is a one-stop entrepreneurial wonderland for anyone aspiring to start a business. Through the SBC, small business owners are armed with a battery of resources, no matter the stage of their businesses. From applications for every process (e.g., permits, loans, articles of incorporation); to on-site business counselors, the SBC has your entrepreneurial dreams covered.
Environment more small business-friendly
Not only are more local and financial resources available now more than ever, but there has been a considerable restructuring of state-wide bureaucracy that – once upon a time – all but excluded the small business person from having a seat at the table of commerce equality. Even big brands are taking notice, as they, too, have formed alliances of sorts with reputable, independent business vendors. Startups in Chicago have never received attention of this magnitude.
(City) Hall of entrepreneurial learning
BACP offers bi-weekly workshops on Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings. Workshops vary each month and are conducted by City Officials, business subject matter experts, as well as partner business organizations. The business workshops are always free and open to the public. Workshops are held at BACP‘s offices, in Room 805 at City Hall, located at 121 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60602. Entrepreneurs can add credibility to their business plans by earning a certificate of completion by the BACP. Many of the workshops are live-streamed, as well as recorded for on-demand viewing.
By taking nine mandatory small business workshops under various areas of concentration (e.g., marketing, permits, legal), entrepreneurs can leverage their own brand when seeking funds. Another incentive to participate in the certificate program is one winner is chosen every month for a drawing for a free one-year subscription to Intuit QuickBooks.
The following list is only a fraction of the relevant and content-rich entrepreneurial offerings offered through BACP small business workshops:
- How to Write a Business Plan
- Trademarks, Patents, Trade Secrets and Copyrights
- Turning Online Ads into Profit
- Social Media and Human Resources
- Finance and Credit: How to Succeed and Grow
- Obtain Shared Kitchen Operator and User License
- Blogging to Build Your Business
- Identifying, Capitalizing and Protecting Intellectual Property
Launch from a neighborhood near you
As an extension of BACP’s outreach, the SBC takes its resources on tour throughout Chicago via On the Road Small Business Expos, held five times a year. Through the expos, Chicagoans have increased access to the Small Business Center’s resources, as the workshops, information resources, counselors, subject matter experts and special guest speakers visit various communities.
The next Small Business Expo will be held on Saturday, November 14 at Wilbur Wright College, located at 4300 North Narragansett Avenue, Chicago, IL 60634; Telephone: 773-777-7900.
To register for upcoming small business workshops through the city of Chicago’s Small Business Center, visit www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bacp/sbc/business_educationworkshopcalendar.html .