Teresa Jacobsson: Alaskan Woman Helping ANCs and Tribal Entities Succeed!
An Alaskan woman herself, Teresa Jacobsson shares her story in building her own firm and what drives her to help other Alaskan-Native Corporations (ANCs) and tribal entities succeed!
Teresa Jacobsson held different positions for several ANCs and tribal entities for over 15 years before founding JW Industries Group, an 8a, Alaskan-Native, and woman-owned management consulting firm.
Through this company, she provides professional and industrial services including contract management, SBA 8a application and development, and construction management among others.
She also served as a director of The Eva Foundation and volunteered to mentor women in business and those recovering from trauma.
In 2017, Jacobsson was recognized as the Women Entrepreneurs of Alaska Mentor of the Year.
JW INDUSTRIES GROUP
Even before building her own company, Jacobsson is already fascinated with the structure of businesses.
“I love the structure of business. I love to see the growth. I like when people can share a product or a service and it’s needed and it’s well received. I think that that in itself is an art form.”
Then, instead of renewing her contract with an ANC, she built JW Industries Group in 2011, and then approached the 8a program in their second year.
Her business continued to grow and they were able to help more ANCs and tribal entities.
Still, even with this success, Jacobsson wants to further improve their capabilities. In fact, she’s looking for a mentor who will help them achieve this.
“I told one of my employees the other day, I said, ‘You know, we have got to constantly be evolving and growing and needing demands.’ And especially right now, all the things that are going on, how do we make, remain a viable company? You know, how do we have to adapt? What new technologies do we have to, you know, embrace?”
ALASKA TRIBAL ADMINISTRATORS ASSOCIATION
Jacobsson built this organization to help over 200 tribal administrators in Alaska with their roles as the head of their tribes.
This is because, in most cases, they are tasked to be the first responders on matters including federal funding sources, reporting, public safety, and others.
“My belief is if we have a supported tribal, we have a healthy and supportive tribe, which means we have a healthy and supported community, which means we have a healthy and supported Alaska.”
ALASKA WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP FORUM
During any event and conferences that Jacobsson went, there’s always a group of women who would get together and start a little impromptu sessions during breaks.
Realizing the reason behind it, she decided to do it for women in Alaska in order for them to have a group of people who can help them with their journey.
“This isn’t a nonprofit for women leaders, it’s a nonprofit for all women because all women lead, whether you’re going to school, whether you’re running a home, whether you’re a federal contractor, while women lead and women should be supported that way.”
ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
1. It’s about relationship-building.
Looking for opportunities is sometimes daunting but when you have a good relationship with other business owners, they will be happy to ask you to work with them.
“You know what I tell my folks who are clients, who are here, who are new to it, is, you know, it really is about relationships. It’s about who you can work with, that joint venture partnership where you can build that experience and put it on your own list of past performance.”
2. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Over the course of years, Jacobson did everything to gain success. She reached out to others, sent her capability statements, and built relationships.
Although most of the time, she didn’t hear anything from these people, she didn’t give up. She just continued doing it until the right people came in.
“Don’t give up. Keep, you know, keep your eyes on the prize. Where (do) you want to be? Visualize that. If you can hold it in your head, you can hold it in your— If you can see it in your head, you can hold it in your hand.”
3. Be a good steward of your time.
Don’t let everything be only about your business, you also need to keep account of your time on other matters, especially your family and your health.
In order to do this, take note of your schedule and inform your employees and your clients regarding it.
“I’m a really good steward of my own time. And I make sure that I set those boundaries with clients right off the bat, because when I first started my company, I’d be getting texts at 11 o’clock at night, ‘Hey, the board meeting is still going. You need to call in,’ and things like that. And I learned, you know, I learned that it’s better for us and it’s better for the client that we respect one another’s boundaries.”
4. Hire slowly, fire quickly.
When you bring people on board, you need to assess if they really believe in your mission because if they do, you have a community and a family helping you achieve your goals.
“Just because they look good on paper, doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily a good fit and believe in what you’re doing.”
5. Do your homework in looking for a mentor.
You need to do your own research in order to ensure that your mentor wasn’t previously disbarred or is a problematic one.
Also, they should be responsive and will provide you a mentor-mentee relationship, not just to win contracts.
“You’re worth it. You’re worth having a good mentor. You’re worth being a good mentor. And you know, especially for the, you know, the individuals who own an 8a company like I do. You know, we have to have that mindset. We’re worthy of good mentorship.:
6. Appreciate the small things.
Sometimes, you need to appreciate the little things like getting a gift card and buying a butter dish, instead of just getting into the ebb and flow of things.
“You know, all that hard work really, what’s it about? It really is about moments like this, you know, where you appreciate small things.”
7. Remember why you formed your company.
When you have those days where you don’t like getting up, remember why you started your company. Your work may be so difficult, but how do you make it joyous?
If you have to put your mission and your vision statement somewhere on your wall, then do it. Just make sure that in everything you do, you remember the excitement that you felt when you first created your business.
“I had to remind myself, ‘Remember, girl, you formed this company. Not anybody else start your own company.’ They said, it’d be fun, they said. You started this and you started it because you felt that there was a need out there. I want you to remember that and remove that energy of franticness and, ‘Oh my God, I need a contract.’ And, you know, there has to be joy in what you’re doing. Always remember why you formed it.”
If you want to learn more on how Teresa Jacobsson built her own firm and what drives her to help other ANCs and tribal entities succeed, then be sure to click the resources below. You can also visit the GovCon Giant website or the new GovCon Edu where you learn everything about government contracting!
073: Teresa Jacobsson – Alaskan Women driven with a purpose to help Alaska Native Corporations and Tribes succeed
Alaskan Women driven with a purpose to help Alaska Native Corporations and Tribes succeed