Creating a path to success

When I started a business in 1988,one of the first things I did was go see a lawyer. I showed up at the lawyer's office and realized I didn't have the slightest idea of what to ask or why I was there. I wasted $500. That pretty much sums up most of the experience. The business idea at the time was to create a toolkit for the telecom industry - but I shortly decided that I needed a toolkit to start and operate a business - on a very practical level.

So before the internet, I created a series of Business Start-Up Kits with all the government requirements simplified - who, what, where, when, why, how and how much.

The world has changed and information has exploded, so now we all have access to more information than we can imagine. But most of the really "helpful" stuff doesn't show up on the first few pages of Google. Those are all the ads and people who have devoted their lives to search engine optimization and trying to get your money.

I love when people have the tools they need to succeed - and I believe that every community, regardless of its size, should give their residents tools to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. When I find hidden "gems" with practical tools, I am delighted.

Whether you are in business, or starting a business, I hope you consider some of these resources "gems" as well. And if you can't find what you're looking for, either visit your local librarian or visit me on the online chat. I'm happy to help.


Carolyn Usinger is the creator of,, and She started her career creating Business Start-Up Kits for the California Chamber of Commerce and wrote the Guide to Hiring Independent Contractors, published by the California Chamber of Commerce in the early 1990s.

Ms. Usinger specializes in creating small business tools branded and customized for local chambers of commerce and communities. Tools for Business was initially developed for the California Local Economic Development (CALED) with a grant from Wells Fargo. It was subsequently launched nationwide with Kay Reynolds, an experienced economic development professional. Tools for Business can be provided independently to a community, or as part of an app, with added connection, resiliency, and support features.

Ms. Usinger holds an MBA from UC Berkeley. You can contact her at or 866.429.1527.