You can do this with a business mentor

The first time I met Tracey Timpanaro was in 2011.

She was a freelance writer and editor with a successful career in corporate communications. I was a single mother with a tentative dream.

“You can do this,” she said with a smile. I must have looked skeptical because she said it again. “You can do this.”

She saw hope in me before I saw it myself. And she was the first person who told me I could do it. Everyone else I had spoken to said that starting a business on my own was entirely too risky.

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Photo by Kathleen McCall

Timpanaro offered an internship, and over the next year, she peppered me with assignments and feedback. Sometimes I nailed it; sometimes I got it wrong. She was always brutally honest.

I watched the easy way she interacted with clients and the meticulous way she tracked hours. I watched how she made possible what others said was impossible.

One year later, I established my own company. I had learned from her the grit and determination it would take to succeed, so I got to work.

Early mornings were spent at networking events. Late nights were spent creating my website. Weekends were spent at business courses. Every day was spent writing and editing.

Timpanaro was there for my first big break. An international pharmaceutical company wanted a database of formulas proofread by an aggressive deadline. She provided the names of freelancers so that I could cobble together a team.

“And remember,” she said, “you’re worth your rate. Don’t sell yourself short.”

Working around the clock for months, the project was a success. It gave me the confidence to keep going — to aim for bigger and better projects.

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Photo by Kathleen McCall

Throughout it all, Timpanaro has remained only an email away. I am thankful for the mentor who started it all.

Today, I speak to single parents who feel tentative about their futures. I see hope in them before they see it themselves.

I smile and say, “You can do this.”

*As published by Johnson Press of America, Volume 13, Issue 5, September 2019

EllaElla Ritchie is the founder of Stellar Communications Houston, a book publishing team that provides a peaceful process and pride in every product for nonfiction authors, business leaders, and government agencies. For more information, connect with her on LinkedIn or visit the website. She and her husband, Jason, help single parents find hope and healing through a ministry called DivorceCare.