Happy birthday Generation X Computers…

My web design and development company, Generation X has just celebrated its fifth birthday. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when it was born…the name Generation X Computers was first conceived back in the mid-90s, when I was selling computers and software for LSI Computers in Warrington. However it was only around 2003 that I began to write HTML and discovered a real passion for web design.

I registered the domain Generationxcomputers.com on the 9th October 2003, and registered Generation X Computers Ltd as a limited company the following week on the 14th October. For the purpose of an official birthday I’ve decided to go with the latter. It was actually a few months later on the 5th April 2004 that I took the plunge and officially became a full time web designer.

It would have been nice to have relaxed and celebrated, but this week has flown by in a blur of late nights and pressing deadlines. Even at 5, Generation X is still a demanding child. And rather like the soul-searching that comes when a child reaches school age, it is a good time to look back… and forward.

Established wisdom has it that UK start-ups have a failure rate of over 50% in their first two years. Depending on the statistics you read small business failure rates are anywhere between 30% and 90% within the first 3-5 years. More specifically, 2007 research by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young highlights annual failure rates of 8.9% for businesses in the Marketing Services Industry, and 6.3% for those in IT services…so Generation X must have been doing something right. However, I’m happy to admit that we also have a lot of lessons to learn and apply over the coming years.

The Times 100 website, for example, lists 10 common reasons for business failure:  poor marketing, cash flow problems, poor business planning, lack of finance, failure to embrace new technologies and developments, poor choice of location, poor management, poor human resource relations, lack of clear objectives and particularly in the case of .com start-ups the difficulties encountered in building a brand in competition with more established brand names. I think that we can improve in at least 7 of these areas in our next 5 years.

In particular, I feel that time is long overdue to look at the issues of business planning and marketing. In times of global crisis I count myself fortunate to have a full order book with enough work to see me into 2009. However, it also seems a portentous time to focus on the future. In particular I plan to develop the Generation X brand in Shropshire, Cheshire and the Midlands, expanding our focus into marketing and graphic design as well as web design and development. I also have the infrastructure in place to develop the web hosting and domain registration side of the business.

Anyway…Happy Birthday to me!

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