18 Years In Business

Warning: this post is more of a recognition of the last 18 years than about anything useful going forward.

Back in the wild west days of the Internet – 1995 to be exact – Brett and I started playing around with developing web sites. After a while we created a few novelty sites that actually generated some attention – to the point of some radio interview coverage, some national magazine coverage, and we felt like we could build commercial sites. And so we began our business, but we kept our day jobs, and started very slowly marketing ourselves.

Word of mouth helped us attain a few clients, and the results garnered us some more, and by early 1996 I gave notice to my employer, and on July 1, 1996, I became a full-time employee of Kessler Freedman, Inc.

THAT is a long time ago, particularly in technology. Discmans were the ultimate in personal music listening. Computer monitors were big hulking tubes in cases. Amazon and Google and eBay were unknowns.  We worked on dialup! Microsoft still thought they could own the technology world. Okay, some things changed faster than others, but as you can see, that was a long time ago. We remember the bubble – very clearly. We’d get potential buyers calling us, offering paper – only paper – in their company in efforts to buy our company. We didn’t understand the bubble. We recognized there was value in the web industry – but it wasn’t unlimited value, and the bubble craze acted like it was. We chose a working business over a speculative business, and kept doing what we did.

We’ve seen LOTS of competitors come onto the market and eventually disappear, victims of their business practices or bored with their business models or in pursuit of greater opportunities. There aren’t many pre-2000 web development businesses out there any more, at least in their original name.  There have been two major economic downturns in that time which greatly impacted organizations’ IT and marketing budgets.  But we’ve been lucky – our business model has been relatively stable and yet flexible, and our interest in our clients and in the evolution of the web has remained strong and adaptable as well.

One of the interesting things about this business is that you learn about your clients’ businesses.  It’s an added bonus from the continuing education you get from changes in technology, usage, and the challenges of running a business.  Some of our clients are really interesting to watch, in terms of how they operate and the space and time they are in relative to their evolving business environment.

Tuesday, July 1st marks my 18th anniversary as a full-time employee of KFi. It’s the longest I’ve worked anywhere, and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, so I’m pretty sure that’s going to remain true for my lifetime.  Eighteen years have gone so fast, and it doesn’t feel like it’s been anywhere near that long.  I wouldn’t even have thought about this, except that LinkedIn reminds your contacts of such anniversaries and I’ve had a couple of comments from friends.  It lead to a bit of reflection, which lead to this post.   Back to more news-related items starting with the next post.  Wayne.