Publications & Business Guides

​Below is a collection of helpful guides that offer information on starting and managing a business. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these guides. You may also receive a free copy of some of the guides by calling the Business Information Center at 1-800-252-2923 or Submit a Question.

Starting Your Business in Illinois

The Plan: A Step-By-Step Business Plan Workbook

Financial Guidance

  • A Simple Guide to Your Company’s Financial Statements (PDF English / Spanish)
  • The Small Business Owner’s Guide To Financial Control (PDF English / Spanish)
  • Understanding Commercial Lending: The Question and Answer Guide (PDF English / Spanish)

Grant Proposal Writing

This guide offers step-by-step instruction on how to create a winning grant proposal. 

  • Proposal Writing - The Basic Steps in Planning and Writing (PDF English)


  • A Simple Guide To Your Small Business Marketing Plan (PDF English / Spanish)

Assessing Your Business

  • The Small Business Report Card: Is Your Business Making The Grade? (PDF English / Spanish)

Buying & Selling

Child Care Startup

If you’re thinking about starting a childcare center in your community, here are some useful guides that will help walk you through the process. You’ll learning how to obtain proper licensing, develop a business plan and lots more!

  • Child Care Startup Profile (PDF English / Spanish)
  • Starting a Center-based Child Care Program Introduction (PDF English)
  • Starting a Center-based Child Care Program Information (PDF English)

For communities that lack ample or quality childcare, we've created this guide to help parents or parenting groups build a childcare system in their community. Download the guide to learn about building teams, exploring tax-exempt status and other important issues.

  • Starting a Community Child Care Program Information (PDF English)

If you're thinking about becoming a family home childcare provider, this guide can help you plan a successful home childcare business with useful resources on acquiring licensing, creating budgets, preparing meal programs and more.

  • Starting a Family Home Child Care Program Information (PDF English)

Employer Options for Child Care Programs

This publication outlines available options for assisting employees with child care and provides agency and organizational contacts who can provide technical assistance to employers throughout this process.

  • Employer Options for Child Care Programs Information (PDF English)


These three guides offered by the Illinois Attorney General's Franchise Bureau are designed to assist franchisors in selling franchises in Illinois and as well as to help prospective franchisees buy a franchise.

  • Illinois Franchise Act and Rules (PDF English
  • Franchisor Registration Tips (PDF English
  • Before You Buy a Franchise - Understand Your Risks (PDF English)

Retail and E-Commerce

The e-Commerce business profile shows you how to effectively use the Internet to expand your business.

  • E-Commerce Business Profile (PDF English)

This guide offers tips on how to break into the retail market.

This free guide offers future grocery/convenience store entrepreneurs resources to assist in the start-up process as well as lending support to existing store owners.

  • Grocery/Convenience Store Start-up Profile (PDF English)

The  Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) Rural Grocery Store Start-Up and Operations Guide is a resource for Illinois entrepreneurs and community leaders interested in starting up, expanding, or transitioning a grocery store in their rural community.

  • Rural Grocery Store Startup Guide (PDF English)

This free guide provides budding restaurateurs with resources to assist in the start-up process and  support to existing restaurant owners.

Winery Startup

As the wine industry in Illinois continues to grow each year, the First Stop Business Information Center is making it easier for new and existing wineries to flourish. Included in this comprehensive guide are up-to-date industry facts, market and sales data as well as a business plan workbook created specifically for wineries. Cheers!

  • Winery Startup Profile (PDF English)