Quickfire with Chris Pont

Chair and Founder, IJYI

Chris is Co-Founder and CEO at IJYI, an Ipswich-based software delivery and data consultancy company serving private and public sector clients.

Published in Suffolk Director magazine, Spring | Summer 2022

We spent five minutes with Chris and asked him some questions about running a business.

How do I engage and motivate employees and keep them?

Remote working has made it trickier, but we use OfficeVibe, which asks employees a few questions every week, helping us build a picture of how people are feeling and where we need to focus on alignment, relationships and recognition. Although this is useful, it’s no substitute for 1-to-1 or coffee catch-ups.

How do I maintain and enhance margins?

Measure as much as possible, bottom-up and top-down. Understand what affects your margins and what levers to pull to maintain or adjust them. Acknowledge why any supplier service is valuable or if you can afford to be without it.

How can I put my prices up and keep my customers?

Have an honest conversation as soon as possible. Let customers know that you may put your prices up so that it’s less of a blow when you do. Look at ways to reduce their costs, perhaps by using automation, cloud technology, or simply spreading payments.

I’ve got this great idea – what do I do with it?

My first advice is for the customer to understand the absolute minimum that they can launch something with and then test with real customers. So many ideas get over-engineered too early. You can always iterate and build on top of what you already have.

How do I protect my reputation and enhance it?

Know your values and stick to them. Make sure you associate yourself with people who share those values and call out behaviour that goes against them.

What can I do about competitors who have an unfair advantage?

Focusing on the competition can be counter-productive, almost obsessive. By all means, understand what they do better but don’t try to emulate them. Instead, focus on your business; success will follow.

How do I network to my advantage?

There are so many networking groups, weekly zoom sessions and meetups it can be hard to find the time. Seek people who match your business interests and see where they network. Remember that many networks are small, so always be professional and courteous.

How can I shut off from the business and manage the work/life balance more effectively?

This is something I’ve needed to work on recently. My best advice is to plan your life then arrange work around it. We all must work x hours on y days but trying to fit it around family and other life things will achieve better balance. Also, turn off phone notifications when you stop work.

How do I cut my overheads and outgoings without negatively impacting my business?

First, you need to measure overheads. Find out what you’re paying and how that compares to market rates. Then figure out how much value you get; if it’s of no value, cut it, or negotiate the cost.

How can I move my business to the next step, stop working in the business and free up more time to work on it?

This depends on what stage the business is at. An easy first step is delegating as much as you can. If something takes up a large part of your day, and your time would be better spent elsewhere, can you afford to hire? Would doing that allow you to scale-up faster?

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