The U.S. has always been regarded as the land of opportunity. Small businesses have been the backbone of the United States economy for over a hundred years. Most businesses that are started begin with someone’s ambition and passion, which then quickly turns into a fully-fledged small business.

Illinois is certainly no stranger to small businesses; in fact, Illinois has the 5th highest number of small businesses in the entire nation, and this has consistently been increasing each year.

The Prairie State is one of the largest contributors to the United States’ colossal economy. Over the last few years, Illinois’ support for small businesses has been evident in the state’s pro-business approach, which in return has aided and continues to support millions of businesses, giving them the opportunity to thrive and survive in today’s economy.

Number of Small Businesses in Illinois

So, how many small businesses are there in Illinois? There are 1,236,927 small businesses in Illinois, according to the latest figures (2020) from the SBA.

It is not just people living in the state that are starting small businesses in Illinois; the state is also attractive to foreigners investing and starting businesses. There were 137,907 immigrant entrepreneurs in Illinois in 2018 that accounted for 23% of all self-employed Illinois residents.

The following bar graph shows the number of small businesses in Illinois in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

How many small businesses in Illinois

Of the 1,236,927 small businesses in Illinois in 2020, there is a wide array of different enterprises from small, one-person sole proprietorships or LLCs to much larger businesses with a hundred or more employees. If you want to join the 1.2 million+ small businesses in Illinois, it is relatively easy to register a business in Illinois.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the number of small businesses in Illinois by looking at the top industries, business owners, employees, and more!

Small Businesses Statistics in Illinois for 2020

  • Small businesses equate to over 99.6% of all businesses in Illinois.
  • There are 2,476,958 small business employees in Illinois, which is 45.1% of the states’ employees.
  • In 2019, Small Businesses in Illinois added 20,410 new jobs.
  • Small businesses employing 20 to 99 employees created the most job gains.
  • There are 152,706 self-employed minorities in Illinois demonstrating the diverse nature of the state.
  • International trade is important for many businesses, and there are 21,160 small business exporters in Illinois.
  • There are more professional, scientific, and technical services small businesses in Illinois than any other type – 175,335.
  • Transportation and Warehousing firms make up the 2nd largest number of small businesses in Illinois – 146,779.

Top 5 small business industries in Illinois

How Many Small Businesses in Illinois?

Over 1.2 million+ is a huge number of small businesses to be registered in any one state! Compared to the rest of the U.S., the total number of small businesses in Illinois is 3.9% of all U.S. businesses. There are 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S.

The number of small businesses in Illinois has been growing over the past several years. In 2017 there were 1,204,658 small businesses, which increased to 1,219,654 in 2018, representing a 1.24% increase. In 2019 there were 1,233,572 small businesses in Illinois, 13,918 more than the state had in 2018, representing a 1.14% increase.

From 2019 to 2020, the number of Illinois small businesses rose again, to 1,236,927, which is evidence as to why Illinois’ economic strength has been building exponentially over the past several years.

Illinois has a lot to offer employers, employees, companies, and entrepreneurs, which is why so many continue to flock to the state due to its impeccable business environment and booming state economy, which in return has provided many opportunities for the small business owner.

With access to some of the largest consumer markets in the U.S., a “go local” approach to community-driven businesses outside the major cities like Chicago, a multitude of solid small business resources readily available for everybody, a strong labor market, awesome education system, and manageable taxes, it is no wonder why so many small business owners choose Illinois.

If you would like to download the full 2020 Small Business Profile report on Illinois from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, the Profile can be downloaded here.