by Diane I. Daniels, For New Pittsburgh Courier
For more than a decade, Jason S. Jones has worked for businesses and organizations that have prepared him for entrepreneurship.
He has worked for financial institutions, business development organizations and nonprofit groups assisting individuals develop and prosper. He’s helped entrepreneurs to get on their feet. He describes his skills as all-encompassing—supervision, project management, administration, budgeting, business analysis, consulting and training.
So, with nearly two decades of professional knowledge and acumen, in September 2019 Jones decided to test the waters in entrepreneurship himself. And after securing a few consulting clients, in January 2020 JS Jones and Still Consulting officially became a reality.
His first secured contracts include The Forbes Funds, Venture for America and the Homewood Children’s Village.
Jones, 37, a Peabody High School graduate, classifies JS Jones and Still Consulting as an in-depth business development small boutique firm. One of its specialties is helping nonprofit organizations think more entrepreneurial. In today’s time, he says, companies need to be more self-reliant and not so dependent on funds from foundations.
“Nonprofit leadership has to know that foundational support is not going to be available forever and being prepared to be a sustaining organization is key,” Jones told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview. “The goal of this company is to help nonprofits and businesses of all sizes because they all need the same type of assistance—strategic planning, business development, customer relations, how to raise and generate capital, and building acquisition.”
Jones’ life and work experiences have directed his path. Reflecting on his younger years, he grew up in a single-parent household with a mother that often worked two jobs. His community environment often thrived from desperation where people did things out of necessity, not particularly what they wanted to do.
“I have lived in Highland Park, on Lemington Avenue and in Homewood,” Jones said. “Even though I had positive experiences at Peabody I was exposed to people that were accepted into Harvard and people who went to jail for life. Nor was I as prepared for college as others.”
Jones’ younger brother was killed at the age of 24. Their mother died 10 months later.
Jones attended the Penn State New Kensington and Behrend campuses along with the University of Pittsburgh before obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Master of Science degree in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University in Beckley, W.Va.
His career path has included working at Laurel Savings/First Commonwealth Bank and Fifth Third Bank. He also served as Business Education Director at Bridgeway Capital, Chief Loan Officer at Christian Evangelistic Economic Development, Community Development Divisional Manager/Vice President at Woodforest National Bank and Director of Entrepreneurship/Vice President at Idea Foundry. For four years he also owned and managed the Diva Den, a full-service beauty salon located in Garfield.
Very passionate about community and education, Jones strives to be a champion for “our people. I have a rich understanding of financial education, loans and literacy. People champion for everyone else and I am the person that champions for our communities, our people.”
As an entrepreneur, his goal is to help businesses strive and be successful. “Ultimately, I want to provide the same access to opportunity that White counterparts have to capital and technical assistance.”
Encouraging people to dream and realize that entrepreneurship is possible no matter the idea or industry, Jones’ advice is to research and educate yourself. “Never stop learning even if you are a startup or well-established. There are always new ways to do things or to leverage capital.”
He also suggests surrounding oneself with an advisory team or board—a good team that consists of a lawyer or business attorney, a banker, CPA and two mentors. Try having one person in the industry you’re in, and the other from the outside. Jones said that’s important because the person on the inside understands the business, and the person from the outside questions and challenges you to think out loud.
Throughout his life, he says, he has been fortunate to have good people and mentors guiding him throughout his career, such as his grade-school English teacher, Lauren Hefflin, Mikey Boyer for giving him his first banking position, and Jada Grandy-Mock who also provided guidance while he worked in banking. Other professional and business mentors he credits are Fred Brown, CEO of The Forbes Funds, Greg Spencer, CEO of Randall Industries and Dr. John Wallace, professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Homewood community leader.
Jones, the father of two daughters, one son and one child on the way, is striving to be the best he can be, he told the Courier. He is excited about the future of his business and looks forward to assisting in the development of nonprofits and entrepreneurs.
Jones currently serves on the Micro-loan Committee for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, and sits on the board for Homewood Children’s Village, Venture for America, and the Robert Morris College Economic Development department.
(ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: UNLEASING HIS ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT—Jason S. Jones, owner of the new JS Jones and Still Consulting, is prepared to utilize his wealth of knowledge to develop nonprofits and entrepreneurs in the Pittsburgh region.)