Juli Clay and Anna Jacobs hug
Brenau University alumna and trustee Anna Jacobs, right, hugs Assistant Vice President for Executive Programs Juli Clay at the Entrepreneurs: Masters of Innovation awards program where Jacobs and her husband, Jay, were two of the honorees. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau trustee and six others recognized as Masters of Innovation

Nov. 13, 2019
Kathryne Davis
The honorees at the Entrepreneurs: Masters of Innovation awards program

The honorees at the Entrepreneurs: Masters of Innovation awards program (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

A Brenau University trustee and alumna and six other local business owners were honored during the annual Entrepreneurs – Masters of Innovation presented by the Featherbone Communiversity held Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Business Incubator at Brenau University.

Masters of Innovation is part of the Featherbone Communiversity’s Masters Series, which annually honors people working in various professions and industries in the community.

This year’s honorees included Jay Jacobs, owner and chairman of Jacobs Media Corporation and his wife, Anna, who serves on the board of Jacobs Media and is a Brenau trustee and Women’s College alumna; Elizabeth Thompson, founder of House Dressing Interior Design; Sheila Sanchez, State Farm agent; Teryl Worster, spa director and owner of The Spa on Green Street; Terry Richards, owner of Sherry’s Bait & Barbecue; and Tim Bunch, owner of Longstreet Cafe.

The business owners all spoke on a common theme: that over the years they had to adapt to changing times in order to stay in business and continue to grow.

“When you’re in business, I think the key for us is we create mission statements first,” Jay Jacobs said. “So we know where we’re going and what we want to accomplish.”

Jacobs Media began when Jay Jacobs’ father started an AM/FM radio station followed by a newspaper, cable station, more radio stations and finally a website, which became AccessWDUN. Anna Jacobs also created AccessWDUN+, which offers the services of logo and graphic design, video production, photography, social media and web designs to clients.

“I think another secret to success is being able to change,” Jay Jacobs said. “Our biggest change has been adapting to technology. Technology is what changes businesses all over.”

In a time where small news organizations are consolidating or being bought by bigger organizations, Jacobs Media has found ways to continue to be successful and remain independent.

“If you look around the state of Georgia, we are probably the only 24-hour staffed, full-time newsroom in radio,” Anna Jacobs said. “There are small radio stations that have gone away from news. We went way into news, and that has made our model very different for radio.”

Richards agreed with the Jacobses that businesses have to be able to change. He and his wife, Sherry, came up with a plan based on the needs of people on Lake Lanier. They decided on a place that sold live bait and barbecue. At first, they had take-out food, but customers wanted a place to sit down to eat, so they adapted.

“I encourage everybody who wants to run their own business to listen to the market and your customers and be willing to make changes,” Richards said.

Sanchez came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1997. She worked at State Farm in various states and opened her own office in Gainesville, Georgia in 2012. She commented on how all of the other panelists had a business plan before they became owners.

“You need to plan ahead,” Sanchez said. “What do you want in life? It doesn’t matter how many times you start something. You can start with one thing and end up with something else. It’s not always the first try that is going to give you success.”

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