A True Lifestyle Business

Hi John here,

Alison & Derek Wedding Photography  (16 of 329)Today I talk to serial entrepreneur Derek Armson about a new lifestyle business he has added to his growing portfolio.

Working In The City

Just to give you a bit of background, Derek spent 25 years recruiting high level technicians for the Investment Banks in the City of London before deciding to change direction.

What happened I asked him?

“I just got fed up with the people in the City. They were far too full of themselves and I knew long before it happened something nasty was going to hit. I was sitting with a derivatives project manager who todl me his bank had made nearly £1 billion on derviatives in just one quarter. He told me if they had made that much that someone must have been holding the other very rotten end of the stick. It was a house of cards and simply had to fail. It was in that instant I decided to get out”.

That was brave wasn’t it?

Brave Or Stupid?

“Stupid more like”, he laughs at the memory. “I decided I wanted something where I stood or fell by my own efforts and decided on Digital Marketing. In all honesty I was hopeless at it!”

Tell me more I am intrigued.

“It was just so different to me. I was a salesman at heart and here I was trying to learn all sorts of weird and wonderful technical stuff trying to build a residual income online. It was quite stressful because I was failing and the money was running out”.

But you got there in the end.

“I did, but if you’d asked me when i satrted if I thought it would have taken as long would I have done it? the answer would probably have been a resounding “no”, but now I am here I have to say I do enjoy it”.

What amde you suceed in the end?

“Dogged determination and a seachange in my thought processes. I realised that online you are nothing without traffic, be that paid or organic traffic. So I decided free traffic was best, so i voraciously learned everything I could about SEO. I now have a rapidly growing search engine optimsation business which you can find at Authority Digital“.

But, we’re not here to talk about that are we?

“No, we’re not”, he smiles.

Lifestyle Sunshine Apartment Rentals

Tell me about your lifestyle business.

“Well, Alison and I love our time in the sun and we found a little place on the Costa Del Sol called Nerja. It’s absolutely beautiful. It does have some toruism in the main summer months, but it is predominantly Spanish tourism and it retains a unique Spanish feel. We found we kept going back, so we decided to look for a place there”.

When was that?

“We started going about 6 years ago and started to look for a property seriously in September 2014. We finally settled on an apartment in the Las Palmeras development and at the end of March 2015 we travelled to Nerja to take possession of our apartment. It was one we’d viewed back in the previous September. We knew it was run a tad run down, but when we saw it empty, we realsied the size of the task in front of us. There was no way we could get any of our investment back by renting out because it was too old and shabby”.

So, what did you do?

Luxury Refurbishment

“Oh dear, we spent a shed load of money doing it up to luxury standards. However, the winner was that by doing that we increased the aparment for rent in Nerja weekly rate from about E500/week to over E800/week. Obviously we wanted to use the apartment ourselves and we have made a significant investment in it, but…the figures worked out like this. Our rental agents reckoned we could get 46 weeks per annum rented out, which really surprised us. They went on to say that would net us E20,000 each year. So, we decided that if we rented for half the year that could pay for us to stay the other half pretty much”.

So, it’s not really a business then~?

“I guess not as such. But it’s leveraging your money isn’t it”?

Yes, I suppose it is.

“Think about it. We had the money available and we knew we wanted to spend more time in Nerja and the surrounding area. To spend six months down there would cost us a fortune in rental or hotel bills. So, if we tioe up some of our capital we can use that to leverage the funds we need to stay there whenever we want. Plus Spain is very much on the up as Greece and other areas of Europe start to fail. They are expecting 10 million extra holidaymakers in 2015 alone. Consequntly, we bought at exactly the right time.”

“Our agent valued the place for us last week. Our amazing apartments in nerja is now worth more than the combined price we paid for it AND the refurbishment costs – which were not inconsequential”

Happy days then?

“Happy days indeed, it truly is a lifestyle business because it pays for the lifestyle I want”!

Now that you cannot argue with!

Here’s a video giving you a guided tour of the apartment with Derek on the other side of the camera!


Hassle Free Boiler Service

Hassle Free VanAs the weather starts to warm and the many layers that have kept us cosy in previous months come off, many householders may consider their quest for more energy efficient heating over for another year. However, Gloucestershire-based Hassle Free Boilers delivers an all year round service so that customers across the UK can harness savings, whatever the season. So, I thought I’d have a more gerenarl look at the service these Guys provide.

The fight to get our gas bills down to a manageable level after all seems like a never ending battle, but the specialists at Hassle Free Boilers provide a service that could see you triumph over the Big Six and the smaller providers in between…

Affordable Boiler Finance Solutions

The cost of a new boiler is something that the average family home simply can’t afford but with Hassle Free Boilers’ finance options every customer can enjoy a warm home without breaking the bank.
With a range of options available for those looking for a cost effective solution to home heating, their all-inclusive package provides ultimate peace of mind. From just £36.99 per month and with no upfront payments, their boiler service plan provides a new ‘A’ rated eco friendly Vaillant boiler, all parts, labour, annual services, magnetic filters, full system flush, same day emergency cover and unlimited call out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All boilers in the all-inclusive service plan are also covered by a 12 year warranty. That’s something you will not find anywhere else.

Experience At Its Core

In addition to providing affordable solutions to the masses, Hassle Free Boilers prides themselves on being a market leading and WHICH? certified trusted trader. Their status as a government endorsed TRUSTMARK standards trader and member of the award-winning Ecovision Group, means their engineers have installed over 7,000 systems in the past decade.

And, what’s more HFB have now started to offer special boiler deals for Landlords across the U.K. Having been a landlord in the past, I know it can be a thankless task. You hear about people building property empires, but when you have 7 or 8 properties and things go wrong all at once, it;s extremely hard work. But, if you have a new Ecotec Vaillant boiler installed on Hassle Free’s landlord terms, it really does take the hassle out of any heating problems. It truly is peace of mind for you as a landlord – knowing the heating service and breakdown is fully covered.

Vaillant-824-Pro-24kw2The Best Staff And Equipment

Consisting of a team of qualified and experienced surveyors and gas engineers, Hassle Free Boilers delivers a valuable service to homeowners and landlords throughout the country. Their Gas Safe registered engineers use local knowledge and industry experience to provide an unbeatable service every time. Hassle Free Boilers only fits the best ‘A’ rated kit, with the Vaillant ecoTEC boilers playing a starring role in their all-encompassing, reliable and reputable service. And, you have the right to choose between combi boilers, heat only or system boilers, whichever suits your needs the best.

Whether you choose to pay for a boiler outright or access energy efficiency via Hassle Free Boilers’ finance offers, you could save up to 50% on your gas bill each and every month. There is no other service like this for home and landlord central heating here in the U.K as we move into 2015 and beyond. It really is an innovative service and you really have to applaud what these Guys are doing to revolutionise the U.K home heating and energy supply market. And, what’s even more important is they are doing it in a very enviromentally friendly way.

They also proivde a great series of public service videos about your heating systems, here’s an example.

And, finally

Professional Wedding Planning

wedding_plannerProfessional Wedding Planners

What Can I Expect from a Professional Wedding Planning Service? Good question isn’t it? And, if I’m honest, one I hadn’t really thought about. back in the day (when I was young), this servcie didn’t really exist, well not unless you were super rich. Nowadays it’s something that is within most people’s grasp. That has to be good in my opinion.

Hiring a wedding planner is on the majority of couples’ wish lists, however, unbeknown to many, a professional wedding planning service could be easier to enlist than you think. Wedding planners work with couples with varying budgets to turn their vision into a reality. But what can you expect from a professional wedding planning service?

As a leading wedding planner, designer, co-ordinator, organiser and event manager operating throughout Hertfordshire and London, Orange Blossom and owner Tania Noursiah have helped couples create truly treasured memories with our level of care, attention to detail and pure passion.

How does it all begin?

Here’s what Tania has to say!

Whether you are looking to host a lavish ceremony or an intimate gathering amongst your nearest and dearest, our professional planning service starts with an initial consultation. We work with you one-on-one to get to know you as a couple as well as your wedding wants and needs.

This personal approach combined with our experience and knowledge of the industry means that your big day is as unique as you and your relationship are. Our initial consultations are free of charge and are carried out without obligation either in person or over the phone.

What happens next?

After establishing your vision, from which we prepare a detailed quote, we provide you with the opportunity to ask as many questions as you’d like about our service and what we can do for you. We understand that choosing the right wedding planner could make the difference between having the big day that you want and one that you didn’t. Our planners are open, honest and creative, and talk transparently about the service whilst sharing ideas that complement yours.

Our pricing for planning

We understand just how important sticking to a budget is, that’s why we don’t use the same pricing structure as other planners. Instead of taking a percentage of your overall budget, which means when your budget runs over so does the planning fee, we agree a fixed rate price to offer the certainty every couple needs when making the important financial decisions about their special day.

With you from day one

We work with you from day one until after your wedding day to ensure you receive a service that you are happy with. Whether you opt for a full planning service, partial planning or wedding day co-ordination, you can rest assured that we will be there to make your wedding day everything you hoped for and more.

So, if you’re looking for a wedding planner in Herts or maybe wedding planning in London, give Tania a call. She’s a superb organiser and is really approachable, and…what’s more important she will deliver the wedding of your dreams Ladies :)

Problems Make A Good Business

Yes, this is very much a business website. It’s very much about building businesses and looking at case studies. But, it’s also important to understand the background of what motivates entrepreneurs, what causes them to take that step into the unknown.

Hi, John here, and today I have something really “left field”, here’s the background.

Premature Baby Clothes – The Lack Of!

preemie_clothesFor parents of premature babies, one of the last things you would think of is where are you going to get clothes to fit your tiny new arrival. Looking for very small baby clothing in local shops is a trial at best as waste of time at worst. Online is a little better these days.

On the whole suppliers rarely stock these products. When you do actually find premature baby clothes, these are generally lacking in quality and you’ll find access panel or flaps (which can be needed for allowing access of regular IVs and PICC wires) totallymissing or cumbersome to use. With such a poor and substandard range to choose from, it is just one more hassle you simply do not need as a parent in this stressful situation.

Keeping Prem Babies Comfortable

One of the primary considerations for the parents of premature babies is making sure their babe is comfortable and warm. Preemies often have extremely sensitive skin. Consequently they can be sensitive or even allergic to colourings and chemicals used in traditional baby outfits.

Also, many clothes sold as “for premature babies” are simply smaller sized variants of common baby clothing. Most designers and manufacturers do not take into account the different needs of an early baby. This means poorlydesigned clothes can have collars that are cumbersome and uncomfortable as well as various zips and closures that may get in the way of vital tubing, tape and other necessary medical apparatus.

I have even heard of some parents actually trying to amend the full sized baby clothes they had already bought becuase they can’t find a decent supplier of quality prem baby clothes. Again a number of issues arise such as comfort, access for PICC and IV lines and poor fitting.

Unwanted Problems

These are all problems you just do not need. You really want everything else to be as easy as possible when dealing with a premature birth.

clarke and meAnd, it was problems like this that inspired Ngaire Cockerill two years ago. Happily pregnant with her first child everything was going along well. Planning was at an advanced stage and all was well.

Then one night, she awoke in serious pain. Rushed to the hospital Clarke arrived 10 weeks early. After the initial shock, she and her husband had to start taking effective action. They had to plan work schedules (they’re both in front line public service), arrnage family visits and just organise everything that comes with such an event.

When Ngaire said to her husband “can you go and get me the baby clothes”, he duly obliged. When he returned, of course the additional problems outlined above became apparent. The clothes were for a 7lb baby, Clarke was just over 3lb.


Clothing Clarke turned out to be a trial way beyond anything Ngaire has ever conceived. She wanted quality clothing, made from soft cotton that would be soft and comfortable for baby. She wanted easy access for PICC and IV lines whilst still allowing her and family those all important cuddles. This was especially so in her case as she wanted to bond as much as possible given the constraints.

However, despite great support form the nurses at the SBU, she found the task extremely difficult and ended up buying items from many different sources to get the full range she needed.

I’m Going To Change This!

Sitting by Clarke’s side, late one night she vowed to take at least this problem away from all parents of premature babies.

When she got home it was going to be a number of weeks before she could even consider going back to work, so she got her father onside. He is an experienced buisness man having spent many years owning a large printing company. She told him her ideas and plans were formulated.

The vision was an online store where quality, specifically made premature baby clothes would be available in a range of sizes, styles and colours. The range would be extremely functional, tailored specifically for premature baby needs and be of high quality and super comfortable.

The planning took just four weeks. Ngaire was determined to make it happen. Failure just can’t live with this sort of determination.

A brand was conceived (Dinki Dreams at the Premature Baby Boutique). A French designer was hired and given an extensive brief and a tight timeline. In the meantime a British manufacturer was found and shown the initial drafts of the range. Manfuacture was priced up and an eCommerce website shell was built.

A Business In Four Months

Just four months after inception the first samples were delivered! Quite remarkable really.

Two weeks later everything was signed off and production began. It really is quite amazing what can be achieved with such focus, determination and a will to do it.

Now…just six months later a premature baby clothing one stop shop is open online. No longer do stressed parents have to search hundreds of stores and online shops to find sub-standard clothes. They can visit Dinki Dreams and get babygros, vests, capes, blankets, in fact, everything you could possibly need if you are suddenly the parent of a premature baby.

It’s a wonderful success story and one I am proud to have as my first case study on my new site.

You can find Dinki Dreams at the following website:- http://prematurebabyboutique.co.uk

Here’s the Dinki Dreams Promo Video -enjoy.