Our Woman of Impact feature presents women who are breaking barriers in their careers, businesses and lives. These women are inspiring us to do our best work and live our best lives.
Our Woman of Impact is Dorcia Carrillo. She’s an attorney and entrepreneur who manages a business and corporate law firm, the Law Office of Dorcia Carrillo PLLC, where she guides clients from entrepreneurs to executives through the intersection between business deals and legal documentation. Dorcia likes helping growing businesses with practical legal advice and workable solutions. She is a New York Giants fan and ardent supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Dorcia and I virtually met through Twitter, as she kindly offered to contribute with her legal and business expertise to TCS.
Hi Dorcia! Can you tell us a bit about you and what you do?
I’m a lawyer and have been on my own, in my own practice, for just over a year. The one thing I’ve learnt is that you can never start your marketing or self- promotion too early. I was in a company previously, and in the legal field there are conflicts of interest, but still if I had just started really tapping into my network, that would have provided a better foundation for when I started on my own. That’s the one thing I let everyone know, if they’re looking to go on their own, or start their own business, it’s never too early to start marketing yourself and tapping into your network.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t have a normal day because I have such flexibility now, but I do try to maintain some sort of schedule. When I first started, not having any commitments and not having a client base yet, I found myself staying up all night and not being as productive as I wanted to be. Now I don’t have a strict schedule but I do make sure I put something on my calendar, have some kind of networking event or event that forces me to get out of the house. Last night, I was at a business planning and succession meeting at the local library, so I try to have something like that once a week. I do have a bedtime now. Although I feel like I’m most productive at night, and a lot of people feel that way, it’s important to keep a schedule and get a good night’s sleep.
When I decided to leave my job, I decided to get a part-time job in retail, which I had never worked in retail prior to this. I thought I could maintain my wardrobe while at the same time giving me some structure. I know I’m busy for two days, so I have to focus more on the remaining 5 days. It’s actually something I really like, as I style people naturally. Even as my business grows, it gives me time to relax, especially since being a lawyer can be very stressful.
What made you decide to start your own business and get out of corporate?
It was a number of factors. Mainly, I wanted more edification. I worked in Compliance, and everything was about what you can or cannot do. I wanted more creativity in my work. In other legal areas, there is more creativity, but not so much in Compliance. I was getting disheartened with it. I was also in the Defense sector, which didn’t align with my values, and which I didn’t have much interest in. That was coupled with a desire to have more fulfillment, being proud of what I did and who I was working with. Looking for opportunities and not finding them, I decided then I could create it myself.
What’s the best part about what you do?
The best part is when I connect with a client, learning their business about what they do. Instead of working with the same internal customers who do the same thing for the same people all the time, I get to learn a variety of businesses, see how people across a variety of sectors operate and bring my skills and knowledge to help them. I’ve been working with an environmental company recently, and since I’m good with understanding how processes work, I’ve been able to help them and they were really happy about it. That really makes my day.
How do you face the uncertainty of being an entrepreneur?
The uncertainty in my mind is linked to financial security. Am I going to make enough money? In my experience on this Earth, I’ve had more, I’ve had less, and I’m still here. It’s not that big a deal. The second piece of advice is you can never have enough money. You can never save enough. They tell you to save six to 12 months of living expenses. You can plan as much as possible, but for me, I saved six months of expenses. I ended up having steady business for the past 4 months, and I was living as I did before, and then business slowed down. I had to find other ways to save on expenses and generate more income.
There’s also uncertainty in corporations. I was in a company previously, and survived 4 rounds of personnel reduction. So there’s not much of a difference, because you can have a job and get downsized or laid off. You can have your own business, and in that case, even have more control, because you can identify more ways to increase your revenue, expand your product base, expand into new markets. That’s how I deal with the uncertainty by not framing it that way. And also realizing that with a job, there’s uncertainty as well.
What resources do you use in your business and daily life to be as efficient and productive as possible?
That’s’ a great question. One of the reasons why I started this was to create more opportunities for people who look like me. Right now, I’m a one-woman shop. It’s great because there are so many applications, right from my phone, that I use to manage my time-keeping, billing and invoicing. I use the Microsoft Suite for Outlook and anything administrative. There are so many tools that are free or relatively low-cost. I recommend Tiny Invoice, that’s what I use for my billing and I love it.
Other resources that I tap into is the Ellevate Network, that I use for education, listening to some of the webinars, for networking opportunities. I’ve also had that platform for some of my articles, as well as your blog which has also been a platform for my publishing.
What are the main challenges you face on a daily basis?
The main challenges are articulating how I can help people. Lawyers are a dime a dozen, and I’m always refining my elevator speech. I’m more of an introvert, although my mom wouldn’t agree. I’m not an in-your-face kind of person, I’m more into listening and figuring out what your issues are. The challenge is being able to respond efficiently, and letting you know: “Yes I can help you with that!”
There are other things, because I’m on the younger side and I’m a Black woman. Many times, I am the youngest and only woman of color in the room. I don’t’ see those things as challenges any more, as I do want to serve a community that reflects me, and I’m happy when I have a client who might feel uncomfortable with a traditional law firm and I can provide the same or a better service because I know where they come from.
As a Black woman blazing a trail in your business and industry, what can you tell other Black women about taking a leap of faith and follow up on that dream to create something new?
Tap into your network. We have networks, whether it’s Ellevate, or part of a Greek association or even our churches. There may be resistance at first, but that’s ok. They talk about the old boys club, but we can also have the young girls’ network, or any other type of network. We just have to find ways to tap into them early and often. When I started out, the pastor in my church gave a shout out in my church. People have contacted me because of that. Even if I haven’t worked with them, I was able to give them a reference and plant a seed there.
Shameless self-promotion, we really have to get better at that. We can start doing it organically by tapping into the groups we’re already a part of.
What are you reading or what have you read lately?
I was actually trying to get a book club started aimed at books by Black women. I was reading Luvvie Ajayi’s “I’m Judging You”. I also just finished Gabourey Sidibe’s autobiography, “It’s Just my Face”. I also read a book on micro-resolutions, the title escapes me, but it was about making micro-resolutions, which helped me with productivity. After reading the book, I came up with the small tweak that I don’t get on my phone for social media until noon, and not after midnight.
What music are you listening to?
I do love music, and do listen to Hot 97 which is a NY city, mostly because the conversation is interesting but still light-hearted. Or the top 40 of R&B, or Hip-Hop. In general, whatever’s on the radio and is upbeat.
Where can we find you?
You can contact me online at http://www.dorciacarrillo.com. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also live in the Norwalk, CT area, so if you’re in the area, I’d be happy to take someone out for a cup of tea to discuss anything legally-related.
I also specialize in handling business transactions for startup operations, especially as related to the acquisition and selling of additional business. Anything related to contracts, distribution agreements, etc. I’m also happy to look at anything related to your business and if it’s something I don’t handle, I’m happy to refer you.
Thanks so much, Dorcia for an amazing interview!
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sis.
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.