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7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

Running a business is tough. Whether you're a brand-new startup or an operating company, it’s important make sure you've considered your own strengths, weaknesses, and reasons for wanting to be an entrepreneur.

In the NaperLaunch Academy, participants use an entrepreneur profile questionnaire to reflect on whether entrepreneurship is a good fit with their interests, skills, and life circumstances. For those who have already started a business, this profile can provide deeper insight into how they and their organization affect each other.

If you’re considering starting your own business, ask yourself these seven questions to assess whether you're ready to take the leap.

  1. Why do you want to start a business?

    What brought you to this point? Is your reason personal, opportunity based, or a mixture of both? For example, do you want more flexibility with your time and energy? Do you want to be your own boss?

  2. What do you know how to do?

    Do you have any specific skills or experience that can help you in this business? Are you a quick learner? Can you gain the skills you need in a timely manner? Do you have expertise in finance, operations, sales, or marketing? How well do you know the market you are entering? Do you know what it takes to make your product or service successful? Are you a good problem solver?

  3. What do you love to do?

    If you have free time, how do you spend it? Do your hobbies fall in line with the business you’re thinking of starting? Does your personality match up with the type of business you’re thinking of? Will you still like what you do when it becomes your source of income?

  4. What personal and professional relationships do you have that can support your business?

    Would you want to partner with someone who has similar or complementary skills? Do you know people with skills, tools, capital, property, or connections that could help you? If you seek help from someone you know, can you accurately gauge their skills or resources?

  5. What kind of support network can you rely upon?

    Building a business can be very stressful; on whom can you rely for emotional support? If your business doesn't take off financially right away, how can you make sure basic needs are met for yourself and your family?

  6. What are your resources?

    Do you have enough cash on hand to get started? Is there anything you can use as collateral if you need a loan? Do you have investors lined up to fund your business, or do you know any in case you need investment in the future?

  7. How do you handle setbacks?

    Do you set realistic expectations? How do you manage your blind spots? How have you learned from past mistakes? In what ways have you shown resilience when facing challenges?

If your answers support your desire to start a business, NaperLaunch can help! Register for an upcoming NaperLaunch Academy workshop or schedule a one-on-one mentoring session with a business librarians, NaperLaunch coach, or SCORE mentor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 3:45pm

Take Stock of Your Finances with These Useful Library Tools

Did you put some money in your 401k years ago but have no idea if it’s where you should be investing now?

Are you worried about having enough to retire or pay for college?

April is Financial Literacy Month, a great time to take stock of your financial future. The Naperville Public Library offers several different databases to get you started, all of which can be accessed from home with your NPL card.

Morningstar Investment Research Center includes reports and analysis on mutual funds, stock, and ETFs. Portfolio tools and calculators help you determine what your asset mix should be and how your investments are working together. Retirement Cost and College Savings calculators are also included.

The library also subscribes to an online version of ValueLine. Like the popular print resource, it includes ratings and reports for 3,500 stocks and 2,000 mutual funds, plus research on companies, industries, options, convertibles and ETFs.

Another great finance-related database is the Weiss Financial Ratings Series, which includes information and ratings for banks, credit unions, insurance companies, stocks, and mutual funds, as well as plus financial planning and investment tools. It also includes financial literacy publications such as Financial Literacy Basics, Financial Literacy: Planning for the Future, and Financial Literacy: How to Become an Investor. Free financial planning tools are also included.

For more information on any of these databases, or to set up a virtual one-on-one appointment for a demonstration, please contact a member of the Business Services Team.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 10:45am

Next NaperLaunch Academy Workshop Series Starts April 6

Whether you are thinking of starting a business or are already in business, the NaperLaunch Academy can help build your entrepreneurial skills.

The Academy offers a focused curriculum to help entrepreneurs develop fundamental business knowledge and learn the “lean startup process.” To meet the needs of busy entrepreneurs, the curriculum is presented in two formats: pre-recorded video courses (available on demand via our website) and live workshops.

The next series of six workshops and two roundtable discussions begins Tuesday, April 6. Each 2-hour virtual workshop covers a particular business startup skill, from business conceptualization to marketing and sales. Participants can register for the full series or choose the workshops that best fit their needs. The roundtable discussions, scheduled at the midpoint and conclusion of each workshop series, are Q&A sessions intended to assist participants in applying what is taught in the workshops.

Registration is now open. For more information, including schedules, registration links, and session descriptions, visit the NaperLaunch Academy webpage.

Monday, March 22, 2021 - 2:15pm

Take Full Advantage of LinkedIn During Your Job Search

It’s a new year and possibly the right time to find a new job. Countless resources are available to help you with everything from your resume to thank-you notes; LinkedIn is a great resource to use to your advantage. While LinkedIn is primarily known for business networking it also offers several tools that can help you in your job search.

  • Open to Work – When turned on in your profile, LinkedIn’s Open to Work feature lets recruiters know that you are open to being contacted for new opportunities. Learn more
  • Job Alerts - Creating Job Alerts on LinkedIn ensures that you are quickly notified of any job postings that match your preferences. Learn more
  • Interview Preparation – Be prepared for the all-important interview by watching videos and reaching out to your network for feedback. Learn more
  • Career Explorer – This interactive tool helps you to evaluate your interests and skills to see alternative jobs and potential job paths you could take to find your next opportunity. Access Career Explorer
  • Company Profiles – Search LinkedIn and review company profiles to discover new potential employers. Use it as an opportunity to see if anyone you know is a connection there.

Last but not least, use your LinkedIn network of connections to both discover opportunities and reach out to the people you know at companies where you want to work. Always make sure your profile is up to date. And now, go forth and find yourself something new!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - 9:30am

4 Steps to Starting a Business in Illinois

You have assessed the feasibility of your business idea and created a plan to get started. What comes next? How do you turn your idea into a legally recognized Illinois business? Here are the four things you should do first.

1. Choose an organization structure for your business.

There are several ways to organize businesses in Illinois, each with its own legal and tax implications. Your form of business determines which income tax return forms you must file. 

The most common forms of business are:

  1. Sole proprietor: A person who owns the business and is personally responsible for its debts.
  2. Partnership: An arrangement in which two or more individuals share the profits and liabilities of a business venture. Types of partnerships include general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, or limited liability companies.
  3. Corporation: A legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners. Corporations enjoy most of the rights and responsibilities that an individual possesses.

Before selecting a business type, you may want to consult an attorney or accountant for assistance in determining which one is best for your business. The library also has many excellent books covering the legal requirements on each of these formats; look for titles published by Nolo.

2. Decide on a business model or format.

Like your organization structure, your business format will have legal and tax implications depending on where you do business and what kind of product or service you are bringing to market. When choosing a business format, consider the following:

  • Will you be making a product or offering a service?
  • Will your customers find you online or at a brick-and-mortar store location?

Other options for budding startups might include creating a new product and selling it to another company or buying an established business that you might take over and operate or buy a franchise.

3. Register your business with the state of Illinois.

When the operating business name is different from the owner’s full legal name(s), the Illinois Assumed Name Act requires sole proprietorships and general partnerships to register the business name with the county clerk's office of the county where they reside.

In Illinois, many businesses are required to be registered and/or licensed by the Illinois Department of Revenue. If you plan to hire employees, buy or sell products wholesale or retail, or manufacture goods, you must register with the IDOR by applying for a tax account number on the MyTax Illinois website and submitting Form Reg-1: Illinois Business Registration Application, online or by mail. Registration should take 2-3 days and will cost approximately $150. You will receive a certificate of registration that must be displayed in your place of business. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) also will be assigned.

Depending on your business type, you may also need specialized registrations (e.g. a liquor license or a professional license). The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is the main licensing agency for the State of Illinois for most professions. Individuals must be licensed prior to conducting business as one of the professions listed on their website.

4. Obtain the necessary licenses and permits.

A business license from a city, village, or county may be required in certain circumstances. The license gives you the right to conduct business activities in that location. A license may not be necessary if customers do not visit your place of business. (For example, online-only companies probably will not need a local license.) The extent of the application process will depend on a business’ reach (local, state, national). Be sure to check with your locality, as heavy fines may be assessed if you do not obtain the required license.

Some municipalities and counties impose their own taxes in addition to the state and federal taxes that most businesses are responsible for. New businesses should contact their local revenue department to determine if additional taxes apply to their business activities. Many communities restrict advertising, regulate pricing, or require zoning permits. Contact your city or county clerk's office for information on local restrictions.

For more information on starting a business in Illinois, check out the NaperLaunch BizVids Startup in Illinois series or register for an upcoming NaperLaunch Academy workshop. You can also make a one-on-one appointment with a NaperLaunch business librarian.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 9:15am