Voted best!

The readers of the magazine Interiors Monthly have voted for the 2010 Best Awards and to our big surprise:

Best Flooring Retailer ( 1 - 2 stores)


Just returned from our short break we received a very nice surprise in the mail: the above framed certificate of the readers choice in the category Best Flooring Retailer ( 1 - 2 stores).

All winners in all categories will be announced in next month's issue of Interiors Monthly.

Web Marketing with Ed Rivis - new seminar

Highly recommended (I've been to the first one):

From the desk of Ed Rivis:

After my last one day seminar in London on 15th April I’ve decided to run another two seminar days before my kids break for the summer holidays.

If you’d like to spend a day with me either near Leeds on 13th July, or near London on the 14th July then pre-register and get a chance to buy one of the first 50 tickets for the hugely discounted price of £97+vat (instead of £997+vat.).

Click here to register


When you go, say hi to Ed from me!

The beauty in/of disruption

The weather was glorious this weekend, sunny, warm, cloudless. The following pictures I just had to take - if only for posterity (will we ever see this again?)


Absolutely not a single condensation trail of airplanes, the beautiful result of disruption of air traffic caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland last week.

My thoughts are with all those caught up in the disruption, stranded at airports and trying to get home or to the place where you planned to go. On the other hand I cannot help but think how this lack of air travel over most part of Europe will affect the Global Warming reports.

And I cannot help but appreciate the absolute beauty of clear blue skies all day long without a single interruption of condensation trails. How long ago has it been we've been able to see this - let's call it - spectacle? And when will we ever see this again?

Have a reminder of how the sky will look when air flights take off again:


Which brings us to that old question again, two old questions really:

  1. Is all progress worth to pursue - for whatever reason
  2. Can we turn back time and reduce /reverse the negative affect some progress turns out to have?

Your thoughts?

Taxing thoughts

The next UK election was announced last week, as if nobody was expecting this! Even more News programs "dedicated" to the political parties, even more "insight" interviews - be at with the party leaders or political experts - and even more promises, promises and promises in manifestos.

Problem with Governments is - no matter which colour - they have this insatiable habit of taxing those they are supposed to govern. And at the moment all it feels like is that every party is trying to figure out whom to tax more will bring them the most voters.

I've made a small list of all the taxes brought upon us (personal and business tax) by governments past and present (has there ever been a time governments did not tax their people, is that their main purpose?):

  • Income tax - because you contribute to the economy by working (and spending your money)
  • National Insurance - because you contribute to the economy by working (and spending your money)
  • Council tax - because you live (work?) in the area the council governs and spend your money there
  • Road tax - to keep the infrastructure going to support the economy (pot-holes anyone?)
  • Business Rates - because your business is in the area the council governs and you contribute to the economy by employing locals and spend money there
  • Corporation tax - because you contribute to the economy successfully
  • VAT - because you contribute to the economy by spending your well-earned money and as business are appointed VAT collection office
  • Tax on savings - because you are prudent with your well-earned money to keep contributing to the economy
  • Excise tax on various items (on top of which VAT is added!)
  • Stamp Duty - because you are contributing to the economy successfully and have been prudent and wise to have saved (tax on that) enough to make a deposit on your own home (home-ownership encouraged by Governments)
  • Inheritance Tax - because all your well-earned money and possessions you gathered so prudently are somehow when the time comes not to be passed on to your partner/children without the Government taking (again) their part of your hard work
  • And I'm sure a left various taxes out
Makes you wonder. It seems no matter how much you contribute to the local/regional/national economy or how prudent you are during your whole life, the only persistent item is TAX. No doubt a fact known for ages.
The only influence we seem to have on which tax will be bestowed upon us next, is to vote for that party that'll suit our circumstances/interest best.
(One problem there though for me and my partner: we are allowed - more than allowed even, if we don't we'll be prosecuted - to pay all those taxes, but due to having the wrong passport we are not allowed to vote for the next UK Government that'll no doubt tax us even more. Just a little side-note for you, nothing you can do about this, I think.)

What makes me wonder most though is why? Why does it seem the main purpose of a Government is to tax us one way or the other (and often twice on the same matter).

Because, you will no doubt tell me, it pays for....... (fill in a multitude of reasons, from schools, hospitals to roads and this or that committee and lets not forget the benefits for others - those out of work or disabled so they cannot contribute to the economy as well as we can and do).

But is that truly so? Can't we just pay for all those items we need when we need them? But not everyone is so prudent to save for later or is able to work, I hear you say; "we have to be fair, we live in a democracy where we share" I know you are thinking.

Barter makes the world going round, the world going roundI know, too much water on the bridge already. Once a ruler/Government starts taxing its population there is no going back to the barter principle (pay as you go/need in which ever means available/acceptable by the other).

But is there? Too much water under the bridge, I mean. No period has seen so many advancements in technology, in medicine, in democracy than the last 15 - 25 years. Why haven't we been able to rule out taxes? Most things are getting smaller, cheaper, more readily available for all. Only tax is getting bigger and more expensive; the divide between poor and rich, between have's and have-not's is getting wider, not closer.

Perhaps I'm wondering about the wrong issue. Perhaps higher tax, more tax is the result of the same principle that allows this divide getting wider. Greed and habit - or should that be the habit of greed?

If we all stopped paying tax, would the world end? If we all started to barter, would the divide grow or would the greed stop?

Taxing thoughts this.

Survey results on "Has Ashford delivered the Boom?

Beginning March I asked the question "Has Ashford delivered the Boom?" here and on the LinkedIn Group East Kent Business Network.

In total (only) 7 businesses took part in the survey till now with the following result - all from East Kent Business Network members:


The results of question 3 bags a few new questions for me personally (running a business Supplying high value products to domestic clients in the Ashford borough):
Does the East Kent Business Network group mainly contain B2B businesses?
Or are B2C business owners not very prone to take part in a survey?
Is On-line marketing a category on its own? (Don't mean this cynical, and hope the person who wrote this doesn't feels hurt).


A significant majority says NO. (100% is very, very significant in my book.)


Plenty of work to do for Ashford's committee "Ashford Best Placed in Britain" it seems or the borough's Economic Development department for that matter.


Maidstone and Canterbury seem to be scoring highest in the perception to deliver more to/do more for businesses than Ashford does.
Hmm, moving?

Had really hoped the survey would have attracted some businesses in "the known" - estate agents come to mind. If there is an increase in commuters to London from other places moving to Ashford Borough now, they should be the first to know. Anyone?

Thanks to all who took part in this simple, short survey. Wonder if we should notify Ashford Borough Council of the results - or would they know already that according to most businesses they failed?

Access to the survey will be kept open till the end of this month - perhaps this Spring will bring more green shoots for Ashford? Feel free to enter you own thoughts - the survey can be found here.

Has Ashford delivered the “boom”? Or is it still to come? If so, when?

Your opinions, thoughts and experience are appreciated.

Ashfordboroughbadge 10 years ago (07.05.2000) we “landed” in Kent to live and work in the Ashford Borough. Main reason to settle in this area: the future was bright here according to Ashford Borough council:

  • Ashford had the International Station with the Euro-star providing fast connections to mainland Europe, which would attract more businesses and therefore more affluent people.
  • Ashford centre would be revamped to make it more attractive as “shopping centre”, again attracting more businesses and therefore more affluent people
  • The high-speed rail link to London – ETA 2007, officially launched end 2009 – would attract more affluent commuters from London.
  • All the above factors would contribute to Ashford Borough becoming THE place to be, the place to live and if so required to work – combining the “rural” feeling and community spirit with fast and convenient travel links to both the capital and mainland Europe.
Has this “boom” materialised? Have you, as colleague business owner, noticed the effect – if any - of this boom in your own business growth/results?

After 10 years we would like to hear your views/thoughts/opinions and experiences and kindly ask you to contribute to our research by taking part in the following short survey here.

(Even if your business is not located in the Ashford Borough your thoughts would be appreciated, especially from those in Kent/Sussex/Surrey.)

Many thanks in advance!


Please, for once, for a change....

Sunday mornings mean reading the Saturday Times at my leisure. And sometimes what I read turns into a blog post, and for a change it's a political post. 

Blair was the phoney. We will be straight with people | George Osborne - Times Online

Since the new year, we are the party that has been setting out the new policy ideas that will change Britain. Perhaps that has made it too easy for the Labour Party simply to attack us while escaping scrutiny itself. That will now change. We will continue to set out our own positive ideas, but we will also ask searching questions about Mr Brown’s record and whether he has anything new to offer. That is the spotlight Labour is desperate to avoid. It won’t be able to now.

That brings me to the second decision we have taken. Oppositions have two paths they can follow. They can either promise real change, or they can play it safe with phoney pledges. Tony Blair and new Labour did the latter in 1997. It took him to new highs in the polls, but led to new lows of public cynicism when the promised change never materialised. With the problems that the country now faces, a repeat of that experience would be a disaster for our democracy. The country yearns for change. When asked, more than 80 per cent of people believe Britain is heading in the wrong direction.

They know Mr Brown won’t change anything. What people want to be sure of is that the Conservatives really will offer Britain a new direction. That means more than promising change; it also means being straight with people about the choices needed to deliver it.

So yes, we will turn an economy built on debt into one that saves and invests. We will bring radical reform to our schools system, and do what no government has done before by overhauling a welfare system that has for generations trapped families in poverty. Our plans to take power away from central government and hand it to people mean a transformation in the way we are governed.

That then leads some to ask whether Conservatives can really deliver change. This goes to the heart of the issue that always faces the Conservative Party: do we represent change and reflect the modern world? We made our decision on that almost five years ago when our party members chose Mr Cameron to lead them.

Every time his leadership has been tested — whether in the days before the cancelled 2007 election, or in the heat of the expenses scandal, or when some did not want to increase our number of women and ethnic minority MPs — David has put his foot on the accelerator of change. He made us the party of the environment. We have shown how we will not balance the budget on the backs of the poorest.

So we have made our decisions. This election is a choice. At the end of it, you will either have Gordon Brown for another five years or a new lead from David Cameron. This election is about change. We Conservatives have changed our party and now we are ready to serve, ready to bring the real, lasting change that Britain needs.

George Osborne is the Shadow Chancellor

via (Colour highlights added by me)

What are you going the change, Mr Osborne, seeing you feel the need to mention that all-mighty word so often? Your socks? Your diet? Your hair-style? The colour of your front door? What????

Please, for once, for a change, could you and all the others change your tune and state facts instead of election campaign drizzle?

Pledges - where? Serve - whom? Shown - how? Deliver - what and when?

Fortunately also in The Saturday Times - ponderings about ethics and morality:

Why the Ancient Greeks were wrong about morality - Jonathan Sacks

"Consider what moves people today: the environment, hunger and disease in Third World countries, and the growing gap between rich and poor. These are noble causes: nothing should be allowed to detract from that. They speak to our altruism. They move us to make sacrifices for the sake of others. That is one of the distinguishing features of our age. Our moral horizons have widened. Our conscience has gone global. All this is worthy of admiration and respect.

But they have in common the fact that they are political. They are the kind of issues that can only ultimately be solved by governments and international agreements. They have little to do with the kind of behaviour that was once the primary concern of morality: the way we relate to others, how we form bonds of loyalty and love, how we consecrate marriage and the family, and how we fulfil our responsibilities as parents, employees, neighbours and citizens. Morality was about private life. It said that without personal virtue, we cannot create a society of grace."

Which makes - for a change - almost the prefect link to my ponderings of yesterday - what really drives us?

OK, rant and ponderings over (for now).

How did that happen?

20092010 And all of a sudden 2009 is gone, past, never to be returned to ever! 365 whole days just whooshed by it seems, where has a whole year gone?

Is it true that the older we get, the more quicker time seems to pass or is it true that "time flies when you're having fun?"


I'd planned to write my regular recap of the year last week, but boy, even the last days of December seem to sped by at wrap-drive. So, very shortly then:


  • we are not allowed to complain about the apparent worst recession year (hard to complain when your business manages to grow 12.6%)
  • we further fined-tuned our email marketing efforts (and were featured in Ed Rivis latest book: Email Marketing Dynamite)
  • we launched our "Comprehensive Installation Guide" which turned out to be a great success, so this year (2010) we will turn the E-guide into a paperback version
  • we enjoyed a long and lovely summer in our lovely village
  • ....

Isn't it funny that even when looking back at 365 whole days it is hard to recall any specific moments? We just seemed to carry on and on, doing what we love doing and realising step by step, day by day what we had planned (hoped more likely due to the negative and pessimistic media noises) to do.

Sincerely hope you had a good year too and are, like is, full of confidence the first year of a brand new decade will be more than all right.
(New decade: is it truly already 10 years ago we moved - emigrated -to Kent?)

And this year we will go beyond my beloved AWeber - more about this "venture" later (if, no, when I find time to tell you about the new software application we have started to use for our "pipeline marketing").

What are your plans for this year, any significant changes planned? Any worries, happy tidings?

Liz Strauss' The 25 Words of Social Media Wisdom Project

On the Successful & Outstanding Blog(gers) blog Liz has started a new 25 words writing project: share your thoughts and wisdom in 25 words with the world.

(follow the link to the invitation)

My contribution:

Questionmarkspeople Questionmarksfonts

In this brave new world
of follow and followers,

follow the question

and provide the needed answer

That truly puts the "Social" in the "Medium".


We're off Jazzing again.

Jazzweekend It's that time of the year again, our home town in The Netherlands is organising its annual Jazz Weekend this weekend. We've made it a habit of travelling down there for a few days as annual (according to some a "well-deserved") short break.

It's a time to meet up with friends we haven't seen for almost a year, to visit family we haven't seen for almost 6 months and of course to enjoy various styles of Jazz.

Eventually we always end up visiting one or two suppliers in our home town too - you can take the directors out of the business, but not the business out of the directors!

This year I promised myself and my partner I wouldn't touch any Internet related equipment, so no email, twitter, facebook, AWeber or any other browsing activity. Not even checking the three DIY-forums we regularly contribute to for problems we might be able to help out on.
I think I'll survive ;-)

One item I always take with me I definitely refuse to leave behind: a notebook and pen. You'll never known when inspiration for a new or better marketing or business-concept idea hits.

Wishing you all a very pleasant weekend and 'see' you Tuesday.