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Information and Assistance for Small Business Owners

From time to time we receive information from various government agencies or non-profit groups that might be of use to Small Business Owners.
They will be posted here and updated periodically.

Please scroll down to see all the articles.
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From SBA

5 Questions to ask Yourself if you Plan to Start a Business

Starting a business takes planning, making important financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. There are plenty of things that every business needs to do to get off the ground. Here are five key questions to ask yourself as you plan to start a business.

Learn more
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From BACP

Entrepreneurs To Get A Break On Their First License

The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Commissioner Rosa Escareno announced new support for an estimated 2,000 entrepreneurs who are trying to launch or grow a business. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s small business reforms support small businesses by cutting red tape, improving transparency and encouraging innovation in every part of the city.

The new Limited Business License fee reduces the cost of a start-up license fee by half, from $250 to $125. The reduction applies to:
New Limited Business License applicants
Existing Limited Business licensees who are expanding by adding a new business location
Existing Limited Business licensees who are moving to a new location
Renewals do not qualify for fee reduction

You may apply for a license in person at the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) office in City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street, Room #800 or online at www.cityofchicago.org/sbc. For in person consultations, an appointment is recommended and can be made by calling (312) 74-GOBIZ / (312) 744-6249. For more information go to First License.
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From Farr & Farr

ICE Increases Employer Audits by Over 100%

On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the results of a two-phase nationwide operation in which I-9 audit notices, or Notices of Inspection, were served to more than 5,200 businesses around the country since January. This operation indicates a renewed focus on immigration status, as audits have increased by over 100%. Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals they hire within three (3) days of hire, and to document that information using the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.

Fines for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers start at $559 per employee and can be as high as $22,363 for repeated offenses. Paperwork violations range from $224 to $2,236. Companies may also face additional fines, penalties and forfeitures, and government contractors may face debarment from federal contracts.

After receiving a Notice of Inspection ("NOI"), employers are required to produce their company's I-9s within three (3) business days, after which ICE will conduct a compliance inspection. If employers are not in compliance with the law, an I-9 inspection of their business will likely result in civil fines and, per ICE, "could lay the groundwork for criminal prosecution if they are knowingly violating the law." Additionally, "all workers encountered during these investigations who are unauthorized to remain in the United States are subject to administrative arrest and removal from the country."

KEY TAKEAWAYS: Ensure each and every employee has completed the I-9 process. Follow the "Rule of 3": Verify employees within 3 days of hire, and remember that you have 3 days to respond should you be audited. You should never waive this window
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From the SBA

How to Choose the Right Business Structure

Choosing which business structure is right for you is a crucial step when starting a business. The entity you select has legal, financial and operational implications. Here are three factors to consider when choosing a business structure.

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From the SBA

8 Business Plan Myths That Can Hurt Your Business

The need for good business planning is as strong as ever, and the potential benefits are as important as ever. Every business owner ought to have a business plan but the best strategies for business planning are different than they used to be.

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From the SBC

New Incentive for Businesses that Complete Start-Up Certificate Program

The City of Chicago's Small Business Center (SBC) has partnered with The CIBC Bank to make entrepreneurs who complete the city's Business Start-Up Certificate Program eligible to apply for low-interest and no-fee loans through the bank's Entrepreneurial Loan Program. Program participants who complete the curriculum will now qualify to apply for The CIBC Bank Entrepreneurial Loan. This low-interest, no-fee loan can range from $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000 for new businesses and $25,000 for businesses with one-year of filed tax returns. All financing decisions are made by the bank.
For more information email bacpiutreach@cityofchicago.org or call 312-744-2086.
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From SBA

10 Steps to Starting a Business

Starting a new business in 2018? SBA has programs and services to help you succeed. Kick off the year right by taking these 10 steps.

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From the SBA

7 Types of Advertising That Don't Cost an Arm and a Leg

Advertising can be a powerful way to deal with marketing challenges such as low brand awareness, a declining customer base or heavy competition. Or perhaps you simply have a desire to drive more foot traffic to your business and think advertising can help.

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From the Chicago Commission on Human Relations

Avoiding Workplace Harassment

With all of the recent headlines about high-profile cases of harassment, business owners of all sizes should be particularly mindful of their obligations provide a workplace free of sexual harassment. Not only should business owners and managers be on the lookout for overt instances of harassment, but they also should be mindful of phrases containing sexist or racist epithets that are commonly used but nevertheless inappropriate in the work environment. Comments or behavior that offends another person, even if unintentional, may constitute workplace harassment.

For more information, visit the Chicago Commission on Human Relations website.
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From the SBA

10 Tips for Cybersecurity

If you choose to take your business to the digital world, as most businesses these days do, you don't want to miss these critical ways to protect what you have. Check out 10 cybersecurity tips for small businesses to safeguard your business in the digital age.

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From the SBA

These tips can help your home-based business take off

Did you know more than 52% of all small businesses in the U.S. are home based? If you are considering or are in the process of starting a business from home, it's an exciting and important undertaking. And as with any venture, it's crucial to take the right steps to set yourself up for success. Check out these five key financial tips to follow when starting a business from home.

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