How to Become an Entrepreneur in Illinois

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What is Entrepreneurship?


Entrepreneurship is an expansive field and graduates can often pursue work opportunities available in almost every industry. For many, earning potentials can also be quite high. It’s important to note, however, that salaries vary depending on the type of business created. According to PayScale, hourly rates for self-employed professionals range from $11.40 to $81.74. The average pay for those who are self-employed is $21.65.

The outlook for entrepreneurs is generally promising, although overall success again depends on the specific industry entered. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the most prosperous sectors include healthcare and social assistance. Prospective entrepreneurs should be hesitant about opening construction businesses, on the other hand, as they have one of the lowest documented rates of survival.

Of course, starting a business is a complex process full of potential risks. As a result, it’s not uncommon for new companies to fail within only a few years. This is why this profession should never be taken on lightly. Those interested in becoming entrepreneurs should take great care assessing their abilities and the viability of their ideas.

An entrepreneur is a person who creates a new business. They can work in a variety of industries including retail, healthcare, real estate, auto repair, and home construction. Private businesses may be incorporated or unincorporated, depending on owner preference. Entrepreneurs can also choose to hire employees or operate their companies alone.

In some cases, entrepreneurs opt not to even maintain an active role in the businesses they create. Instead, they prefer to leave the majority of management tasks to others. Many entrepreneurs, however, enjoy and save money by taking on numerous roles. Responsibilities will vary depending on the industry, but most involved owners oversee operations, direct production, assist with personnel management, develop company-wide policies, and review financial activities.

While the work can often be stressful, there are many benefits associated with being an entrepreneur, including personal and professional independence and autonomy in creating a company. Professionals of this type get to choose the type of work they perform, who they provide products and/or services to, where their businesses are located, and even how much money they earn. Business owners also tend to enjoy more personal enrichment opportunities. Those who are self-employed often do a lot of independent and guided learning, which leads to them gaining knowledge in numerous areas.


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Entrepreneurship Education in Illinois


Are you considering enrolling in an entrepreneurship degree program in Illinois? This is a good option for individuals interested in starting their own businesses, although it can also be helpful to those entering other related professions. The most successful entrepreneurs have strong work ethics, tend to be highly creative, and enjoy learning new things.

Other important skills that often assist professionals in this field include:

  • Business Management
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Customer Service
  • Finance
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Problem-Solving

Professional and business services are the highest ranking industry in Illinois, accounting for $118.4 billion in revenue each year. However, all of the top ten industries in the state are easily accessible to entrepreneurs. Real estate, manufacturing, finance, wholesale, retail, transportation, and rental businesses are often privately owned and managed.

Degree options at every level are available to prospective business professionals in Illinois. While online learning makes it possible to take classes anywhere where internet access is available, local colleges and universities are often recommended for people who plan to establish their companies in state. These schools will know how to prepare graduates to meet the various credentialing and licensing requirements for starting businesses in Illinois. Additionally, they will be more familiar with industry norms in the area and often have established relationships with top employers.

Earning a degree in entrepreneurship can help you develop the skills needed to establish your own business Illinois. It can also prepare you for a variety of other jobs available in the state. While entrepreneurs in many industries do not require degrees per se, deciding to earn one is often optimal. This is because structured degree programs ensure those who are enrolled gain the knowledge and training necessary to be successful.

Entrepreneurship, however, is not always offered as a major. Depending on the college or university you select, you may have to major in business with a concentration in entrepreneurship. In cases like this, it’s common for the institution to focus entrepreneurial instruction on a single facet of the field, such as product feasibility, funding, or e-commerce.

Degree options in business and entrepreneurship range from associates to doctorates. Always keep your personal and professional goals in mind when considering programs available in Illinois.

Associate Degree in Entrepreneurship (AS)

Associate degrees in entrepreneurship are generally appropriate for those interested in gaining the minimum skills needed to open, manage, and advance a business. Graduates may also be qualified to work as retail managers, office managers, general sales managers, business analysts, and business consultants.

Most associate degree programs in entrepreneurship consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Many place a strong focus on math, English, and economics as these topics are likely to be useful when starting and running businesses. Common coursework often includes accounting, marketing, business law, and business ethics. Students are also likely to receive instruction in software programs that can assist in the creation of spreadsheets, presentations, and written documents.

In addition to opening a business or finding employment, graduates can choose to enroll in further education. Associate degrees help prepare students for additional learning. Additionally, it’s usually quite easy to transfer credits earned from accredited community colleges to four-year institutions later. In fact, this is often a much more economical means of acquiring bachelor’s degrees.

Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship (BS)

Bachelor’s degrees in entrepreneurship are ideal for those seeking to develop skills in leadership, organization, and problem-solving. Graduates often possess professional independence and a considerable work ethic, which are necessary when starting a business and highly valued in most workplaces.

Most bachelor’s degree programs consist of 120 credit hours of coursework, which generally takes full-time students four years to complete. Curriculums tend to focus on subjects relevant most to business such as low-risk startups, entrepreneurial finance, and consulting. Coursework often helps students develop the major skills necessary to lead a successful career in the field.

Those interested in earning advanced degrees will need to earn bachelor’s degrees first. All master’s programs require candidates to have a bachelor’s prior to enrolling. Graduates will also need a minimum grade point average, as well as GRE test scores.

Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship (MS or MC)

Master’s degrees in entrepreneurship are a good idea for anyone seeking to advance their businesses. Graduates learn how to manage their preexisting businesses better and they are also more likely to be considered for advanced jobs in the business field.

Most master’s degree programs in entrepreneurship consist of about 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Programs vary, but many focus instruction on skills that will help current entrepreneurs grow and develop their existing business ventures. Coursework is likely to include topics such as financial management and strategic marking management.

Alternatively, entrepreneurs can opt to earn Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees instead. Many MBA programs offer concentrations in startups and business development, which are ideal for individuals opening or expanding companies. MBAs are also ideal for people interested in various facets of business. In fact, graduates often gain access to a wide variety of employment opportunities in the field. They also stand out during interviews, make more money, and qualify for more senior-level and management positions.

Most MBA programs consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Instruction is typically designed to help students develop and hone skills in strategy, marketing, global business, and supply chain management. In addition to entrepreneurship, concentrations in data visualization, enterprise systems, security controls, and business analytics are often available.

PhD Degree in Entrepreneurship (PhD)

Earning a PhD or doctorate degree is rarely necessary for entrepreneurs, but these types of education can open many doors. While those interested in establishing their own businesses are unlikely to need this level of education, students interested in conducting research in the field and/or who want to become professors will need to. PhD and doctorate graduates may also choose to pursue positions as directors of operations and chief operating officers. They are often qualified to apply for some of the highest-level positions available in business research, management, and policy.

Doctorate and PhD programs generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students four to seven years to complete. Coursework generally focuses on research methods, economics, and multivariate analysis. Notably, students will need to complete and present a dissertation before graduating.

Become an Entrepreneurial Professional in Illinois


The first step in becoming an entrepreneur in Illinois is determining what your personal business goals are. Entrepreneurship is extremely broad, with opportunities in almost every field. As such, it’s important to identify an area that you are competent in and/or passionate about. Do you want to open a small business or a large corporation? Can you manage the company alone or will you need to hire employees? Identifying your preferences before enrolling in a program ensures that you gain the knowledge, skills, and training necessary to be successful. Your unique goals will dictate the type and level of education most warranted.

Once you have completed any applicable education requirements, you can choose to pursue a number of certifications to help establish and/or advance your company. Additional credentials can also enhance your professional qualifications if you plan to join the workforce. There are no specific credentials required to become an entrepreneur, but most will be industry-based. You will need to research which certifications are best suited for your career goals.

Some of the most prominent general business options include:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
  • Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)
  • Certified Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD)
  • Certified Professional Logistician (CPL)
  • Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)

If you plan to open your own business in Illinois, you will need to meet a variety of requirements such as providing a name for your company, developing a comprehensive business plan, and selecting an ownership structure. Structure options include sole proprietorship, limited partnership, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, “C” corporation, and “S” corporation. The state also requires that all business names are registered. Additionally, most businesses must be registered and/or licensed by the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR). Local tax registration regulations apply and owners are responsible for obtaining any other necessary licenses and permits through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Careers for Entrepreneurship Graduates


There are a wide variety of positions available to entrepreneurship graduates in Illinois. Whether you are interested in starting your own business or finding professional employment, there are numerous opportunities available.

Salaries and expectations will vary, but some of the most common career options include:

  • Business Owner:
    Small business owners establish, maintain, and grow their own businesses. These professionals may be actively involved in the process or may take a more observational role by delegating tasks to employees. They often perform a wide variety of tasks themselves such as overseeing company operations, directing production, supervising personnel management, developing policies, and directing financial activities. According to PayScale, database administrators make an average base salary of $73,350 per year.
  • Web Developer:
    Web developers build websites for their employers or for clients as consultants. They often write code to create web pages and access databases as directed. These professional may also create, modify, and debut software in order to enhance productivity, marketability, and/or efficiency. They also test new software for companies and organizations to ensure it is suitable for installation. According to PayScale, web developers make an average base salary of $60,100 per year.
  • Marketing Manager:
    Marketing managers assist with or supervise the creation of advertising campaigns for companies and organizations. Depending on the position, these professionals may oversee one or more products, product lines, brands, or entire companies. They also coordinate with product managers to help monitor program performance and assist in market research studies that may lead to new program implementation recommendations. According to PayScale, marketing managers make an average base salary of $66,300 per year.
  • Retail Manager:
    Retail managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a retail store. These professionals generally handle employee onboarding processes and store inventories. They may also address any customer service issues that arise. Retail managers also track various company goals established by corporate headquarters and assist in annual budget planning. According to PayScale, retail managers make an average base salary of $48,000 per year.
  • Office Manager:
    Office managers oversee the activities, projects, and employees they are assigned. These professionals use good communication, problem-solving, and managerial skills to ensure operations run smoothly and provide updates to high-level executives when necessary. Office managers are also responsible for implementing new policies and procedures when directed. According to PayScale, office managers make an average hourly rate of $18.28, which is an estimated base salary of $49,300 per year.
  • General Sales Manager:
    General sales managers oversee sales departments. These professionals may perform a wide variety of tasks including hiring and training employees, assisting sales teams, ensuring targets are met, compiling revenue data, and presenting relevant information to upper management. They are also frequently responsible for general marketing duties. According to PayScale, general sales managers make an average base salary of $65,700 per year.
  • Business Consultant:
    Business consultants help clients create profitable business models. These professionals are often hired by larger companies to improve customer outreach and/or identify product vendors. They generally do this by assessing current procedures and offering recommendations. Business consultants may also help identify and execute changes to company infrastructures. According to PayScale, business consultants make an average base salary of $75,100 per year.

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