The following resources are intended to assist new and existing local food entrepreneurs in the many aspects of starting and operating a business. Find information on rules and regulations, associations, marketing, education opportunities, financial planning, good manufacturing practices, food service licensing, insurance, taxes and more.
Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College
Free consulting services for prospective and current business owners.
• starting a new business
• writing a business plan
• creating financial projections
• improving your marketing
• increasing sales
• record-keeping and accounting
• personnel management
• sources of credit financing
• advertising and sales promotion
• selling to government
• international trade
• understanding financial statements
• industry research
• Library: Books on marketing, advertising, business law, business start-ups, acquiring financing, and more
• Entrepreneur magazine “How to Start…” binders: step-by-step instruction on how to start over 180 different businesses
• Videos: Training tools on a variety of business topics
• Computers with business and financial software: Develop your business plan, spreadsheets, etc., or preview software that you might use in your business
• Free Internet Access: Research the world-wide web to get the information you need to make your business successful
Value-Added Local Food Program
Credit courses blending local food issues, culinary preparations, and business skill development for aspiring entrepreneurs and food service professionals.
B. Creative – Julie Roland
Freelance graphic design professional experienced in local food business marketing.
Better Business Bureau of Central Illinois
BBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers – instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.
• BBB sets standards for ethical business behavior and monitors compliance. Almost 400,000 Accredited Businesses meet and commit to our high standards.
• BBB helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses, and those that aren’t, through more than 4 million BBB Business Reviews.
• BBB sets standards for and evaluates thousands of advertisements each year to ensure that people can trust what advertisers say.
• BBB sets standards for and evaluates the practices of thousands of charities so that donors know where their money is going.
• BBB coaches businesses on ethical behavior and how to build stronger, more trusting relationships with their customers.
Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois
Regional chapter of a national campaign to strengthen the local food movement, increasing consumer access to nutritious local food, and supporting local farmers with a commitment to raising products in a sustainable, environmentally, and morally conscientious manner. Publishes a consumer guide of local farms, restaurants, natural food grocery stores, and other businesses that support local food. Provides marketing support to farms and food businesses.
Easy to use design program. Create (nearly free) marketing graphics including logos, ads, flyers, labels, and more. Its user-friendly operations allow anyone to be their own graphic designer.
ChefTalk: Food & Equipment Reviews Forum
Crowdsourced reviews on everything from chef’s knives to range tops.
A non-profit organization committed to expanding the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities. Through extensive work on the subject, they developed a book on how to wholesale local food.
Illinois Department of Public Health
Regulatory and permitting agency oversees food safety and sanitation for the state. Recommend contact with IDPH during the early stages of business planning.
Requirements for the Farmers Market Food Product Sampling Handler Certificate.
Illinois Restaurant Association
Membership-based organization offering cost-savings on everyday expenses, networking and business building opportunities, and industry representation and advocacy.
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Statewide non-profit organization working on behalf of the Illinois local food system in the areas of policy advocacy, conservation education, and local food promotion. Examples of local food programs include the Old State Capitol Farmers Market, Local Flavors farm-to-table restaurant series, and Farmers Market Fresh Cooking Classes. Policy work includes the Illinois Cottage Food Law and the associated Cottage Food Operation Guide. Additional information about the Illinois Cottage Food Law from the University of Illinois Extension.
Innovate Springfield (iSpi)
Business incubator offering a variety of office spaces in historic downtown Springfield across from the Old State Capitol. iSPI has over 5,000 square feet of meeting space for events including conference rooms, classrooms, and work spaces.
Membership benefits include coffee, wifi, shared conference rooms, i-Spi programming, mail/copy/print services, and either open desk space, dedicated workstation, or private office.
IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
Resources for taxpayers who file Form 1040, Schedules C, E, F or Form 2106, as well as small businesses with assets under $10 million. Information on starting and operating a business, developing a business structure, preparing and filing taxes, and much more.
Local First Springfield
Membership organization dedicated to encouraging consumers and businesses to support local businesses, and supporting policies that support local businesses.
Sangamon County Department of Public Health
Food sanitation class details and permit information.
Use this online resource to develop customized FDA-compliant nutrition label facts, ingredient lists and recipe costing at an affordable price. They work with up and coming food businesses, established food businesses, commercial kitchens, food business consultants, co-packers, food trucks, store fronts, students, you name it.
Practical, proven insights and resources for independent restaurant owners.
US Small Business Administration
Programs and services to help you start, grow and succeed in business. Best used as supporting materials to working with an advisor through the Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College.