Have you decided it’s time to own your own business? Create your own schedule? Occupy your own storefront? While there’s no road map to creating the perfect business, there are plenty of resources available to get you off to the right start.

As retail real estate professionals, we interact with first time businesses often enough to have a good understanding of what works and where business owners fall short. These are the top 4 resources we recommend all small business owners check out.

Business Planning & Startup Assistance

One of the best things you can do for your business it to get your ideas on paper. You can do this by creating a simple business plan that details your goals, marketing strategy and initial costs among other things. SCORE offers free resources, connections to mentors, webinars and more. They also have many local offices in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana that you can visit directly for assistance.

Chances are that if you’ve got a question about running a small business, SCORE has the answer.

Small Business Loans

Oftentimes, owners underestimate those costs associated with starting a business. If you don’t have enough cash to execute your plan, you can look into various small business loans. This type of loan is designed to help first time and small business owners execute their dreams. We recommend checking out Regional Development Company. Not only do they offer financing opportunities, but they also provide a ton of free resources for those who need it.

Credit Repair

When a landlord or bank runs your credit report, it’s important to know what’s going to come up. A better credit score will help you prove to your landlord or lender that you’re credible. It can also save you money on interest or on a security deposit. Companies like CreditRepair.com and Credit Saint work to help you increase your credit score.

Local Funding & Grants

If you’re in Chicago and seeking additional funding, you’ll want to check out your local Neighborhood Opportunity Fund. This fund is made up of various grants designed to strengthen Chicago’s west, southwest and south retail corridors. The program encourages commercial and cultural investment in these communities and both property and business owners can apply.


When looking to start up your business, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a solid marketing plan in place. Even if you only plan to serve your customers through your storefront, you will still need to have some sort of digital presence. If you’re just getting started, check out our post on Top 10 Free Marketing Resources. If you’re a bit more digitally savvy and are ready to test your brand online, be sure to click through our post on Digital Marketing for Today’s Brick-and-Mortar Retailers. Both these articles and many more on our blog, are filled with tips and tools to help you get your brand seen.

We recognize that these tools aren’t all you’ll need to start your own business. Rather, we hope this list will supplement your current plan and vision so that you’ll be as successful as you can. One of the best things you can do to ensure success is to plan for it. By using these tools and resources you’ll be on track to own and operate a profitable business.

If you have questions about the process, or are ready to talk to one of our brokers about the perfect location, give us a call. Otherwise, page through our Real Estate 101 series or stay in touch by signing up for our email blasts.