313508_233587303367030_1478794070_nIn the pizza business for two and half years, Charlie Jia, aka CJ, could tell you a thing or two about resilience and patience. ​
CJ’s Island Pizza (CJs) is located on North Stradbroke Island which has a local population of approximately 3,000 residents.  Access to the island is by vehicle barges or passenger ferries.  The island is a tourist destination boasting some of the best beaches in Queensland, great surf, excellent fishing, extensive camping and holiday accommodation and a rich history of European settlement and a continuous Aboriginal culture​.  Although the focus of CJ’s business plan is the local population, tourism or visitation is an important component of its ongoing viability.  Poor weather, natural disasters, like the severe bush fire right in the middle of the high season, and rising costs to access the island present a number of obstacles for business.
With these impacts to visitation looming, the CJ’s team had to stay focused and come up with new solutions. Some of these solutions included:
  • Working with accommodation operators to ensure CJ’s was included in their service information
  • Negotiating partnerships to have a number of operators include a CJ’s deal in their holiday packages
  • The creation of a loyalty program for local customer
  • Adding a catering was an additional service that was promoted during the bush fires on the Island with CJ’s catering for the SES and Fire Fighters

All of these strategies, have help to raise the profile of CJ’s both as a local business, as well as an essential stop for visitors to Stradbroke Island. Charlie’s experience at working on his consultancy business Karma Lifestyles for a decade before heading to the island, and his understanding and familiarity with working with partners and knowing the importance of networking, have all assisted CJ’s to grow through the tough times. Charlie’s decades of experience are reflected in the advice he gives to other people thinking about starting out in business. He offers this,

If you have got a great idea, certainly do your research, test your product or service if you can, make sure a lot of “somebodies” will want to buy your product or service, get yourself a business mentor, join a local business network, plan ahead and stay focussed on that plan, work hard and have some fun.  Make sure your business becomes part of your life and not something you do separately.

Charlie, the founding President of the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, a position he held for six years, also believes in the importance of business groups. He says he has found that Chambers of Commerce, like the SEQICC,

offer a platform to meet like minded business owners, sharing stories, sharing the ups and downs of business and creating possible potential opportunities

Creating and maintaining a locally driving business raises many challenges. Like cooking a great pizza, Charlie and the whole CJ’s team have spent time working on their recipe and building a great base. We look forward to seeing the next stage of the pizza delivery business journey.

Leesa Watego

Image credit: Supplied by CJ’s Island Pizza. 

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