We talked to Geert Plovie about how IC solutions specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, social media SEO, and online marketing, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Geert Plovie: We are lucky that the health of my family and me is still going well. When you see the images on TV of some problems that families experience, you realize once again how grateful you can be for your health and that of your family. Covid-19 doesn’t do much good, but it does put our day-to-day rat race into perspective.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded IC solutions?
Geert Plovie: It’s a long story, but I’m going to try and sketch it. After high school, I went to college to study Applied Computer Science. The specific programming went too fast for me, I was insufficiently prepared for this field of study, and after the first year, I stopped. But the bug for websites and the internet caught my eye, and I started a specialization year in web development. It was only one year, but it was very educational, even if it was just the basics. I was 20 years old at the time, and I knew I would start my own company one way or another.
Since I did not have the right training to start as a web developer at a company, I started my work career selling as a wholesaler of IT components. At the same time, I continued to do my weekend job despite already working full time. I didn’t have a family, so I still had plenty of time to develop my passion, web development, and the internet. This combination of both jobs allowed me to save well. After a few years and several acquisitions of the company I worked for, so much had changed that it was time for me to do what I loved to do, web development. Because I had some savings, I took the plunge to start independently in web development combined with the weekend work that I continued to do. I have also had setbacks, made wrong decisions, and had many opportunities that I took. I kept going because I believed in what I was doing and because it is my passion. After a few years, I decided to go for growth within my company. I had no experience whatsoever about growing a company, running a business, but on the one hand, I tried to read and listen a lot about it, and on the other hand, I followed my gut feeling. Today we work, including me, with four people, and we think we can continue to grow.
How does IC Solutions innovate?
Geert Plovie: That is a difficult question. In our web development sector, everything changes so quickly that it’s challenging to lead the way and innovate. What I do believe in making a difference compared to similar companies is our way of working. We don’t have a top-down hierarchy. We are a team. We all have our expertise, and everyone is responsible for their expertise. Everyone also gets the freedom they need and can handle. I also aim for the most excellent possible transparency about income, expenditure, work we do, and why we do it. What we also try to be innovative in improving the open-source systems we use. We improve these to our needs and those of our customers. What we continuously think about is how the right visitors get to the website that we make. We take that angle with us from the start of a process.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Geert Plovie: We have projects that have been postponed. We have customers who have gone bankrupt. Receiving payments of invoices took much longer, and we had to put in a lot more effort, but on the other hand, we just got more work, more projects. We do expect that Covid-19 will slow down our growth somewhat in the long term. There will come a time when the government support for companies will disappear, and we have to wait and see what will happen. But when I look at some other sectors, we are fortunate.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Geert Plovie: No, not really. As mentioned before, not much has changed for us. Although I often have to make difficult choices that impact other people, other companies, and day-to-day operations. Whatever sector you are in, people are always the most crucial part of a company. You have to make decisions that impact people.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and IC Solutions in the future?
Geert Ploviee: That is a good and important question. I think that stress and anxiety might be part of the business. If you cannot deal with that, it is better not to start your own company. I was once advised by a client who has been an entrepreneur for over 30 years, ‘fear is a bad counselor.’ And I take that advice into my company. Furthermore, I also feel that when the pressure increases with me, I automatically anticipate and make confident decisions that are necessary. Without that pressure, I probably wouldn’t make those decisions.
Looking forward, I consciously choose to take calculated risks. We don’t jump any further than we can. That makes the company’s development slower than you would like, but on the other hand, you may be sleeping a little better. What I also always do is look at things from their perspective. Looking at the situation from a distance and thus assessing all problems correctly.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Geert Plovie: Who are our competitors, or who do we want our competitors to be? This has to do with where we are now and where we want to go. We are well aware of our strengths, our weaknesses, and those of our competitors. Our vision is apparent. The customer comes first. We supply a product (e.g., a website) but, above all, a solution (e.g., a tool to gather new leads). We always go for quality, even if this is at the expense of our margin. Of course, as a company that wants to grow, we also have to make a profit, so we develop methods and systems that speed up and improve our work without compromising quality. In this way, we can create a creative solution for our customers in a relatively short period. I also speak the language of the customer. I try to explain everything in plain language. I firmly believe that you should continuously learn, dare to question yourself and your company, and innovate where necessary. I also learned that you could achieve a lot with hard work.
Your final thoughts?
Geert Plovie: I realize that I am in a situation where this Covid-19 pandemic has not, to date, caused us any real problems, and so my story is a lot easier than many others. But I do believe that you should try to get something positive out of every situation. Ultimately it is not about how much money you earn, how many people you manage; that is ultimately all secondary. What is essential in life is your health, your family, and your friends.
If you are faced with a setback today by the Covid-19, you may also get the chance to learn or discover new things simultaneously. Maybe you will meet new people. In difficult times, try to think beyond today or tomorrow. If you looked back at this period in 5 years to come, wouldn’t you be satisfied? Set a goal and work towards it. However, it will be with hard work.