“I am officially my own person, it’s a little scary, you know,” Anne Jones divulged as she sat in her home office in Thomas. Since leaving the Tucker County Development Authority in early December, Jones is focusing her efforts on her two businesses, Piton Inc. and Piton Strategies.
Piton Inc. is a 501(c)(3) helping veterans change careers. The nonprofit focuses on education through webinars and classes. Jones is considering expanding Piton Inc. outside of exclusively working with veterans to work with a wider range of careers.
On the for profit side of her endeavors, Piton Strategies helps small business through transitions and periods of growth. “The ultimate goal is helping businesses and helping people experience change,” Jones said.
Through her pervious work experiences, career training, marketing, human resources, and career management are all part of Jones’ tool kit. “I think my time at Citigroup was hugely helpful, because Citigroup really does function as a lot of small businesses,” she said. Jones also cites her background in business management as useful in helping others build a framework for their own enterprise.
Piton Strategies is a small business itself, so for right now, Jones is putting to work the strategies that she teaches. “Right now, I’m doing all the things I have told other people to do. I’m excited to practice what I preach,” she said.
Jones wants to determine the business’ “critical mission.” She wants to find the balance between having too broad of a scope and a too narrow one. Trying to find the balance, by having “soft knees,” as she put it.
Tucker County is still in the scope of her mission, but Jones also works with clients throughout the states and abroad. The diverse clientele gives Jones a wide swath of resources to pull from, and thus offer to her clients.
“If you work in rural America, there are brilliant people who work hard, but what they don’t have is a lot of role models side by side to say ‘this is how this business did it, this is how that business did it,'” Jones said. As more competition arises in a market, competing businesses are more apt to reach higher in their overall business strategies.
Jones sees trust as an integral component to her work. “I can say ‘I have your business needs in mind, I have a lot of integrity,’ but it’s hard to convince somebody, ‘Trust me, I’m trustworthy,'” Jones said.
Piton Strategies is often hired by financial institutions to work with the businesses that receive loans. Banks and community development financial institutions hire Jones as someone with the time and ability to work with investees to coach, cheerlead, and advise them through transitions, so that the investees do not default on their loan.
As for the name, “Piton, it will not climb a mountain for you, but it will help you climb it more safely. I cannot make a business be more profitable.” And in the worse case scenario, that sometimes means helping an unprofitable business slow down or close in the least damaging manner.
For her own long-term plan, Jones would like to hire a small staff to help her pursue avenues that one person cannot do alone. “You’re doing all these things, but you don’t really know at this point, like a year from now, which thing will stick.”