18 years old? Can I see some ID please?

Today is our birthday! NSDesign is now officially 18 years old. But why the 15th Feb 1999? How do you determine the birth date of a company?

Was it the day that NSDesign was conceived? In which case you could easily add on a few years (having recently revisited read some of my notebooks and draft logos created while dreaming in an exam hall!).

Was it the actual day of company incorporation? In which case you can take off a couple of years, because we didn’t actually become a Limited Company until 2 years years after we started (beginning as most small businesses do in “sole trader” status).

For us, our birthday is the date that we truly arrived. The date when we said to the world – “we’re here, ready to do business – come and talk to us”. The date we registered the NSDesign.co.uk domain name with Nominet, and made our website live!

Not only does the Nominet “whois” confirm our big date, I still have the invoice from the competing web company I used to register the domain! It’s the nearest thing I have to a birth certificate! The paper invoice still exists, but the company that sold me it doesn’t, having like so many in the last 18 years, come and gone.


18 years means we’re still a youngster – but in the digital industry, we’re one of the older ones! Lately I’ve been tempted to change the title on my business card to “Senior Consultant”, although I’m not quite sure I’m ready to admit that yet. But I am immensely proud to still be here, proud to still be doing what I do, and proud of what NSDesign has achieved over our 18 year childhood and adolescence .

While I’m no Alan Sugar, Richard Branson or Anita Roddick (although personally I’d urge you to look to the modern day successes of Martin Dickie and James Watt from Brewdog, Gareth Williams from Skyscanner, and Amber Atherton from MyFlashTrash if you want inspirational business figures), I’m always happy to give business advice to anyone who wants it, and so to keep with the 18 theme, here’s 18 business advice tips (in no particular order) from one business owner to another.

18 business tips for small business owners:

  1. Have fun in business
  2. Find a good accountant early
  3. Don’t focus on the competition
  4. Never stop learning (about anything and everything)
  5. Take advantage of free training, business support, expertise etc… but…
  6. Always trust your own gut instinct
  7. Understand the basics (Ltd company?, VAT registered? etc)
  8. You don’t need to be an arrogant ruthless bas***d
  9. Be nice to everyone (unless they are arrogant ruthless bas***ds)
  10. Data is your friend (use it)
  11. Look after your staff
  12. Aim for a good work/life balance (but understand you’ll probably never achieve it)
  13. Focus on customer service above everything else
  14. Change Often (not just when it’s already too late)
  15. Differentiate
  16. Never stop Marketing
  17. Try and change the world (in your own small way)
  18. Always tip your bartender


So now we’ve come of age – it’s time to grow up. To continue to evolve. To embrace change and never stand still as the pace of digital continues at a rate quicker than ever before. To do our bit by helping others, continuing to expand our training services to deliver the very best (and most up to date) advice and best practice through organisations such as Business Gateway and their Digital Boost initiative. And to encourage growing businesses to nurture new talent in the form of digital natives – a win-win for both sides.

Without doubt there are some exciting times ahead for NSDesign, the digital industry, and for all businesses – whether starting out, or evolving. “Alexa, what does the future look like”…. (here’s a hint – you’re talking to it).

But before all that – time for a celebratory drink down the pub – now that we’re old enough!
And yes – I do have ID thank you bartender.


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