[quote]Network with others everywhere you go. There is always an opportunity to talk about what you do.[/quote]
Christina Bouza is Co-founder and Director of Content for CJ Creative Solutions, a content marketing company based out of Sugar Grove, IL, that specializes in written content for digital marketing channels. She has been passionate about writing all of her life. Her 20+ years of professional work experience includes a broad scope of creative landscapes fostered in a marketing role, with her specialty being that of content production. She is enthusiastic about all writing assignments and has often volunteered her time and talents to produce community newsletters, business letters, ad copy, web copy, and more. She was formerly part of a writing group that met weekly and thoroughly enjoys creating, sharing and learning from others.
Her unique formulation of written copy combines an empathetic understanding of a brand and its target audience, a resourceful attitude when it comes to competition and a rigorous editing style that delivers accuracy, tight language and adherence to AP Stylebook, when necessary. Her experience supports an array of industries, to include federal government, education, wholesaler, services and retail, as her strong work ethic and passion for creative autonomy guided her in the direction of entrepreneurship. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Science in Marketing Management degrees from the University of Maryland.
She enjoys writing fiction and poetry, practicing yoga and hanging out with her teenage kids.
Where did the idea for CJ Creative Solutions come from?
The idea came from my longing for creative autonomy and my burning desire to have my own business doing what I love. The company name is indicative of the two minds that brought the idea to fruition. The “C” represents my first name and the J, that of my business and life partner. The combination of the two letters “CJ” also represents creative juices, part of our tagline. (Where Creative Juices Are Content).
What does your typical day look like?
Honestly, we operate out of our home office right now, so I work in my PJ’s sometimes. I begin each day by reading for an hour. After I have flipped through my favorite publications and blogs via Flipboard, I check email and begin working on my To Do list prepared the day before. Typically, my day includes writing content for our company website or that of a client. We do offer services outside the realm of written content, so I am often involved in learning more about a new Word Press plug-in, implementing code for website enhancements, exploring host providers and toying around with new social media features. Let’s not forget the required housekeeping (not actually cleaning our house), but the billing, account reconciliation, client profile building, projections, new business development, and so on.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I work through an idea in my head first. Once I have convinced myself of its value to me and others, I write it down. At that time, or a few days later, I pencil down the steps necessary to execute and what my expectations are. If I feel the same way about the idea as I did when it first came to me, at this point, I go for it. Sometimes, I just go for it.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
It’s exciting for me to see the number of publishing platforms online that are open to everyone. Since I love to write, this is a dream.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Not sure if this would be considered a habit over a character trait, but I believe in taking chances. I remind myself routinely to let go of the fear of failure. “I would rather have tried and failed, then to have never tried at all.”
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
That’s a tough question, as I have always been able to find joy in every job through the people I’ve worked with and a positive attitude. I guess the worst job I ever had was an inside sales position. The company culture was one of all work and no play, and the role was scripted. I learned that I am not built for this type of work because I need some level of creative autonomy to thrive and be successful. That was the one and only inside sales job I took.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I could start my professional career again, I would have completed my formal education right after high school, rather than in my late twenties and early thirties. I would have read more in my teens and early twenties and concluded earlier in my life what Stephen King believed, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Network with others everywhere you go. There is always an opportunity to talk about what you do.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that has helped us grow our business is reaching out to our personal and professional network in a formal, yet personal manner. When we were ready to officially launch our business in January of this year, we drafted an insightful letter, personalized it with an individual email rather than a generic blast, and asked our friends and colleagues to pass it on and keep us in mind for any upcoming content needs.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It’s still too early to answer this one. There isn’t anything I see as a failure at this time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Become a social media expert and offer social media management as your niche. There is so much out there and so many new features and platforms that it is a sure win. With the exception of the millennial generation (Gen-Y), so many people over the age of, say 30, as well as many small and mid-sized businesses, know very little about all that is available in the world of social media and how the plethora of platforms actually work when utilized at their full potential. Offer social media private lessons.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Very few people know that I was an aspiring gymnast when I was younger. I took classes at Bela Karolyi’s gym in Houston, TX in the early 80’s and took a picture with Mary Lou Retton next to her new red corvette shortly after she won five medals, including a gold, at the 84’ summer Olympics.
What software and web services do you use?
I use iPage for my web hosting and WordPress for site development. I use all Microsoft Office and many Adobe software applications. We also use Intuit’s Quickbooks for our bookkeeping and client/vendor management.
What do you love about them?
I love that they have all been easy to use and navigate, but mostly that new features, templates and themes are added regularly, and this excites me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend reading The Focused Business by Dave Crenshaw. A book I recently finished that provided lots of insight (and worksheets) into running a successful business. Simple strategies to build a focused business by reducing chaos, such as knowing the types of employees that can make your life difficult and how to handle them. It leaves you feeling empowered as a small business owner. A refreshing, light-hearted and honest voice that leaves you as though you just finished a conversation with the nicest man next door.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
There are so many people in my life, or that have touched my life through shared words and experiences, to pinpoint a couple. A few that stand out are my father, Norman Vincent Peale, Harold Norris (a dear friend), my mother, my children (Lexie and Joey), my sister, and my absolutely wonderful business and life partner.
Christina’s Email: [email protected]
CJ Creative Solutions on Twitter: @cjcreative35
CJ Creative Solutions on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CJ-Creative-Solutions/1420812334807440
Christina Bouza on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=11483299