Updated: Aug 4, 2020
By Paula Anderson
Becoming an entrepreneur takes more than passion and determination, it requires an understanding that your path may not always be a smooth process. Attorney Corbin I. Carpenter, owner and managing member of the Carpenter Law, PLLC shares some of his experiences in a candid conversation about his law school experience, entrepreneurship, and issues on injustice and inequality in a written dialogue.
Attorney Carpenter had a foundation for entrepreneurship established early in his life. His parents, Charles Edward Carpenter, Sr. founded the law firm in 1978 and his mother, Mary Alice Bobo-Carpenter, psychotherapist, founded Healthy Connections Consulting in 1993 according to Carpenter.
“I was taught early in life that entrepreneurship is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle that requires an assortment of qualities such as vision, grit, humility, discipline, service, benevolence, resilience, perseverance and resourcefulness,” said Attorney Carpenter.
This foundation has developed and prepared him to be an emerging entrepreneur. As owner and managing member, the practice focus areas are corporate, transactional and municipal finance law.
In addition to practicing law, he served as a former board chairman for the STS Enterprise Corporation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose mission is “empowering youth and college students to “Make Excellence the Norm” through authentic leadership development programs,” according to the website.
Carpenter is a 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a 2016 graduate from University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law where he earned a juris doctorate (JD) degree. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and the District of Columbia.
Listening to Attorney Carpenter share his thoughts in a written dialogue provides hope and encouragement to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Each day, a Question & Answer will post about our conversation to learn more about his background, philosophy and entrepreneurial passions.
Q: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
"Many life experiences and perpetuating my family’s legacy of making your own way—having the innate and unyielding desire to acquire ownership, accumulate generational wealth, and ultimately control my own destiny is what inspired me to pursue entrepreneurship. Due to the innumerable systemic barriers in place for Black and other minority citizens with access to meaningful career avenues, various challenges in obtaining permanent and equitable employment are ubiquitous and pervasive in our country for people who look like me. In 2019, Forbes reported that 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and since 2005, 94% of jobs created are contract or temp-agency jobs, which usually are less protected, pay less and don’t offer much, if any, job-related training or employee benefits. Considering entrepreneurship was critical to me because the current economic infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating, and is detrimentally affecting all areas of life, creating new issues and intensifying the current ones we already face.
In the coming years, a substantial number of America’s working-class jobs will be supplanted with automation and other avenues of technology. Society is transitioning away from the traditional “industrial brick-and-mortar” business model to the “virtual/digital” business model, which subsequently will likely cause companies to downsize in operations through decreasing their number of employees and transitioning away from manual labor. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has greatly accelerated the time of this transition. Currently, COVID-19 has proximately caused over 32 million people to file for unemployment assistance. COVID-19 has altered and is continuing to alter the behavior of businesses, government, schools, and people in a manner that is having detrimental and irreparable effects on global and local economies. Daily living expenses are steadily increasing while employment salaries are not. The area median income in Memphis and Shelby County are right at $46,620 and $49,465, respectively, while for the U.S. it is $54,501. Thus, to survive in today’s society, generating multiple streams of income is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. With the economic wealth gap consistently widening it is vital that you educate yourself to the highest possible degree on the complexities with investing, credit, debt, home-ownership, real estate, insurance and estate planning. Living in this outlandish system but having the freedom and latitude to navigate through it, informed and at my own free will, is what inspired me to become an entrepreneur. Doing so has indubitably been the best decision of my life! Just as Sean Carter said “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!"