It can be challenging to run a business, but the hardest part often comes before you even get started. The big challenge for most who dream of business ownership involves coming up with a distinctive idea for their business. What is your business idea? Who are your potential customers? How much of the work will you do? Who is going to pay you for your new product or service? Will you be using e-commerce? These are critical questions that must be asked before you take the leap toward entrepreneurship. The checklists (see a few options in back) could be one place to start. But if you’re like most people, you probably need a few more details.

While you are still developing your business idea, three tried and true options make sense:
• Attend a workshop or training class.
• Explore the Internet for on-line advice, ideas, and training options.
Network with other new and aspiring business owners.

Many aspiring business owners do all of these during the idea stage.

If you’re looking for a workshop or training class on how to start a successful business, you may enjoy a wide range of options. Spoon River College offers classes and workshops for entrepreneurs through the Community Outreach Department. Recently Spoon River College introduced a three-credit-hour course, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, that is offered through the Small Business Management department. Check out, or contact Velvet Powell, Community Outreach at (309)833-6033 to learn more.

Western Illinois University’s Small Business Development Center also offers a “Starting Your Business in Illinois” workshop which focuses on thinking through your business idea. Visit the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) ( to learn more.

Looking for a live person to answer your business questions?
The WIU Small Business Development Center (SBDC) schedules appointments by request in Rushville.  SBDCs are a good first stop in your explorations. Call (309)836-2640. (

As regular web browsers know, not everything on the Internet is current or correct for Illinois. Please use the links in this web site to browse particular websites for Illinois organizations. Also be sure to check out the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website,, one of the most comprehensive and current, which includes a resource guide for Illinois, startup kits and information about financing.


Illinois Small Business
Development Center at WIU

Dan Voorhis

What are some of Schuyler County’s specialized nonprofit resource for potential and existing business owners?

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Western Illinois University: 
The center serves as the primary contact for all inquiries from the business and industrial community.

The Rushville Public Library:
The library has a variety of business related books and reference services useful in developing a business plan.
Two Rivers Resource Conservation and Development:
Two Rivers RCD provides assistance for economic and community development, land conservation, water management, and environmental concerns.

Women’s Opportunity Network:
The Women's Opportunity Network (WON) is a networking association for women in the West Central Illinois Region.
Business.Gov provides business with one-stop access to federal government information, services, and transactions with the goal of making the relationship between business and government more productive.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity:
The department gives information on business development, business incentives, loans, etc. that pertain to commerce in the State of Illinois.

Spoon River College:
The college can provide information and assistance with workforce and new employee training.

Workshops and classes are one way to evaluate your idea before you start your business. But you can also learn from other business owners or from others thinking about starting a new business. Illinois is full of groups that network new business owners so they can learn from and do business with one another. Most people are familiar with their local Chamber of Commerce, but that is not the only place where business folks get together. Informal and formal business networks are springing up across the state. These groups generally meet on a regular basis and usually provide training, mentoring, and coaching for new business owners. They can be an enjoyable way for someone still exploring to test the waters of business startup.