If you had to describe a successful small business owner, what characteristics would you use? Hard-working, hustler, extrovert, innovative are just a few words that likely come to mind. If you’re evaluating your own probability to succeed as a small business owner, there’s no shortage of content to get started. You could dig into Stephen Covey’s New York Times best selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or this Forbes article about successful small business owners that offers a couple of words you might not have considered - sacrificial and positive about the future - or you could give Billie Jean Strahan a call.
Better known as “BJ” or “Mimi” by close friends and family, BJ has lived a lifetime of owning and supporting successful businesses. Though the businesses were usually her father’s or her husband’s, no surprise given that more than 70% of small businesses are owned by men, BJ has a positive, “whatever-it-takes” attitude that undoubtedly was the engine powering their growth. Now, as the matriarch of the Strahan family, she’s managing SnapIt Boards, a business that truly marries her three biggest passions: photography, placement and people.
BJ enjoys taking pictures, but she doesn’t consider herself a great photographer. Her earliest memory about photos was when she was four years old, watching her father, who was in the oil business, taking lots of pictures at rig sites. She’s always amazed at the quality of photos our phones can produce and how quickly we can get them printed. Back then, it was quite a production to have a photo developed and BJ absorbed every detail of those photos. She learned positioning, lighting, angles and loved the way photos have the power to take you back in time.
“I was exposed to a lot of my memories through the photos my family took when I was a kid. It allowed me to learn so much about my childhood that I otherwise wouldn’t have known.”
Today, she hasn’t even scratched the surface of what her cameras and phone can do to produce stunning images, but she loves the ability to instantly review what the camera saw and continue to reposition items, change backgrounds and refine and redo the photo until it comes out just right. “The people I talk to during my service calls really are very fortunate to have the equipment we have available today. I see so many beautiful, crisp images with stunning detail.”
As a child, BJ wasn’t like other children who preferred to color or play with toys. She enjoyed analyzing the way things looked and especially enjoyed exploring the grandeur of her Great Aunt’s home in Houston - from the magnificent steps leading up to her front door to the beauty inside, her home was impressive. BJ studied, in great detail, the art and pictures on the walls, the collection of worldly antiques and absorbed many of her aunt’s tales of philanthropic events, dinners with the Queen of England and travels around the world. BJ says, “My aunt was grand. Her home was grand. Her life was grand. I loved visiting her home any chance I could to explore and hear her stories. I really believe her home sparked my love of great design.”
BJ’s mother wasn’t sure of what to make of her daughter’s design interests. While she appreciated that BJ was great at keeping her room clean, she could have done without the spunky attitude that came with it - “I can clean my room better than you can, mom.” When BJ and her husband Bruce were first married money was tight, but it didn’t dampen BJ’s desire to decorate their home, and whether he liked it or not, Bruce’s office. Bruce’s mother used to say BJ could do more with nothing than anyone she knew. Bruce’s office received visitors at times who spent more time appreciating how well his office was designed than actually conducting business. Though she could have easily launched her own interior design business by helping Bruce’s business associates’ wives with their own homes, BJ just appreciated the opportunity and new environments to hone her skills. She never charged for her work and just enjoyed developing new relationships through helping others.
Customers who have had the pleasure of connecting with BJ Strahan on the phone get a first-hand look into her passions and not in the way you might expect. BJ is highly relational - she can make a stranger feel like her best friend in a fifteen minute conversation. Her biggest passion throughout her life has been people. She keeps a notebook of her customer service conversations and though she has yet to meet any of her customers face-to-face, their stories stay with her. It’s not abnormal for BJ to reach back out to a customer just to check on unresolved issues, as a customer or as her new best friend. If you haven’t chatted with BJ yet and would like a window into the soul of SnapIt Boards, call the business customer service line. We guarantee you’ll see SnapIt Boards a little differently.