From the Editor: Lessons from the 2024 Top Entrepreneurs class

The Jacksonville Daily Record presents its fifth annual Top Entrepreneurs edition.

Jacksonville Daily Record Editor Karen Brune Mathis.
Jacksonville Daily Record Editor Karen Brune Mathis.
  • News
  • Top Entrepreneurs
  • Share

Four years after the pandemic shut down much of the economy, businesses continue to develop new capacities to survive and thrive.

The pandemic jolted some industries into overdrive while jetting others to the curb.

Surviving businesses developed strategies – by design or by chance – to operate in an economy that in many cases might be stronger now than it was before March 2020.

Congratulations on that.

Today’s fifth annual edition of the Jacksonville Daily Record Top Entrepreneurs features nine finalists and one legend who operate in the post-pandemic world of business.

We received almost 80 nominations, a record, for the three categories of Northeast Florida entrepreneurs who post revenue of less than $2 million, from $2 million to $15 million and more than $15 million.

A diversity of choices made it challenging to narrow the field, and those who are not in the 2024 class are encouraged to nominate themselves in 2025.

Watch for nominations to open in January at

The nine finalists share many practices and traits, led by adaptability.

As you read about these nine finalists – and the legend – you will realize that their lessons are useful for all business owners as well as corporate executives, self-employed and remote workers, students, teachers and most anyone.

Those lessons include:

Focus. Find a niche, dispense with what doesn’t fit, don’t wander into areas that cost more than they are worth.

Divest. Similarly, if a line of business is losing money or is of value to a buyer, you may not need it anymore.

Vision. You can’t reach a goal if you can’t define it.

Grow sustainably. Choose how to manage growth – money and people – and beware of expanding too quickly or too timidly. Don’t overreach but don’t fail to reach.

Pivot. When an idea doesn’t work, don’t force it. Move on.

Plan the loss. Be ready to take one at the start, but only if your business plan is strong enough to make the turn.

Diversify. Don’t depend on one major revenue stream or one big customer because those can disappear. Remember March 2020.

Follow a passion. You need to like what you do so that you will do what it takes to be the best at it and to stay committed.

Sacrifice. You likely already know that feeling. As an entrepreneur, your time and money are stretched thin. If what you are doing is worth the sacrifice, it has a better chance of paying off.

Value your experience. Capitalize on your past career changes. Remember that brief job at a company that you don’t know why you joined? It taught you a skill or an idea that will come in handy when you don’t expect it.

Competition. So you were surprised that when your industry thrived in the pandemic that all of a sudden everyone else decided to join it? You were a veteran and sharpened your edge, and the others might already be gone. In fact, they may be willing to sell or merge.

Employees. They keep your business running. You don’t risk failing them, especially considering how challenging it is to find good team members.

Family. Remember who has your back and whose backs you have. Run their needs through every filter when you make a decision.

AI. Harness the power it will have - and already has - on your business.

For 2025

Next year, the Daily Record expects to further refine the nomination form. 

We will require that the entrepreneur make the nomination and provide the amounts of the past three years of revenue and the number of employees.

We had to bypass some strong candidates again this year because the person nominated wasn’t aware of it and did not wish to participate.

We will expand the form so that nominees have space to share more about themselves.

Another request: One nomination per entrepreneur. Multiple forms aren’t necessary.

Also, the entrepreneur must have been the CEO long enough to report three years of revenue. 

And if you already have been featured as a finalist the past five years, we applaud and thank you, but we want to give that opportunity to others.

We congratulate the 2024 finalists and hope you are as inspired by their stories as we are.

Go to the Top Entrepreneurs section, Click here



Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.