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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Dogs are Getting Groomed - Not Cowboys - at Country Suds in Greenwood, BC

Lifestyle Change


What if the end is only the beginning?

People are often confronted with significant changes and choices in life. We've all been through it. The start of a new job, the loss of a friend, sickness. Moving away from home or moving in with someone you love. Buying a car or choosing a house. Starting of a new business. Some changes are forced upon us due to circumstances. Others, we do to ourselves. 

Whenever a significant change occurs, we are confronted with at least two perspectives. The one view is a feeling of loss, decline, powerlessness, and the lack of control. The other a sense of gain, re-birth, strength, and a new beginning. 

It doesn't matter how small or large the change is. The key to success in life is how well we deal with changes. How good are we at moving away from what we had, towards something new? 

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Nature is in a constant cycle of decline and renewal. It should be natural to us as humans too to easily let go of the old and to welcome the new. Why is it so hard then for people to embrace the same fluidity of life?

It is because we trap ourselves in temporal illusions. Our imagination creates time, circumstances and places in distorted realities. In our silliness, we fear losing things long gone, while holding on to things that may never be. Our perspectives define our reality. The hardest task then is to tie our reality down to the truth of where we are now and what we need to give up to move forward.

When we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that every change is a goodbye to get a hello, an end for a beginning, letting go for something new. Without this realization, we risk being trapped in an illusory twilight of despair. It will destroy our spirit if we cannot say goodbye. We won't have a future if we do not say hello.

Greenwood


Greenwood City in British Columbia has been saying goodbye since 1918 when the copper mine and smelter closed. It's been saying goodbye for such a very long time that it became trapped in a very real twilight of despair and decay. Old buildings crumbled, people moved away, and businesses left town despite the city seeing an average daily traffic pattern over 3,000 vehicles during the summer months (Traffic Patterns, 2011). It may well be on the road to oblivion like its predecessors Phoenix, Bridesville, Sidley, and others if it doesn't embrace a future.

Because of the city's rich history and its record resistance to change, Greenwood also attracted people fearful of letting go. You can see it in the junk of the yard collections. The failed upkeep of its small houses, and the prevailing rust of the old clunkers in the driveways.

We think that Greenwood and the area are poised for change and on the verge of a millennial renaissance. It is the right time now for the City to move towards its tomorrow as more and more people drop out of big-city life, avoid daily commuting, expensive mortgages, and having too much meaningless stuff.

Greenwood could and should say hello to young families, college graduates, entrepreneurs, crafters, makers, small houses, new buildings and people that embrace lifestyle, simplicity and old-school authentic values. The mine won't give it a future. Instead, it should court producers, makers, and telecommuters - the foundation of a new economy.

The last thing Greenwood needs is a Mickey D's on the corner, Starbucks or a Safeway parking lot. Instead, it requires a butcher, doctor, grocer, candymaker, woodworker, cabinet maker, knifemaker, weaver, and it needs more people that realize that it is an affordable place to work and live - really live. It has the required vehicle traffic. Greenwood just needs to give people more reasons to stop, and some will even choose to bring their dreams, hobbies, businesses and jobs to stay.

Observations


Tammy Bowering moved to Greenwood and established her Country Suds Dog Grooming in 2018. She just realized that Greenwood has dogs that need grooming. Her love for dogs compelled her to say hello to her future, and she started her small grooming business. It's been growing steadily, and we are proud to feature her as part of our portfolio of Boundary Country stories.

Tammy is so passionate about the future of the City that she is now heading the Greenwood Board of Trade. It is an organization that was incorporated in 1899, just two years after the city itself was incorporated. The chief goal of the Greenwood Board of Trade is to promote economic and community development, networks with local and regional businesses, and to provide small business support.

The Cowboys are glad that we can throw in our support too for the future prosperity of Greenwood. It gives another opportunity for people to find a better way to work and live in the Boundary Country of British Columbia. It is a chance for us to have our chosen lifestyle.

Hendrik
Boundary Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


City Hall

Powder Room

Grooming

Doggy Love!

Doggy Wash!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sitting Out the Alberta Winter with Fried Chicken and Spiked Frulattes at Marv's in Black Diamond, Alberta

Worth the Trip


The Cowboys have a few favourite ways to pass the time when it is cold outside. 

One way is to visit friends in Alberta to do some home-style cooking. Marv Garriott, the owner of Marv's Classic Soda Shop and Diner, invited us to Black Diamond for such a visit. He wanted to tell us more about his special fried chicken and unique peanut butter burgers. We had a little surprise installed for him too with a spiked Frulatte!

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Winter is a particular time in Canada. Canadians find all kinds of ways to make the most of the snowy, frosty season. Ice Hockey, Ice Fishing, Skiing and Sledding are a few of the activities that make winter exciting and bearable. You also have the festivities of Christmas Markets and the Holidays that precede the big freeze.

However, by late February and early March, the novelty of winter has worn off. Canadians become grumpy and start to look for something new to do. These are also the hardest months for some of Canada's tourism-related small business owners. People avoid travelling when it is cold. It means that business is slow during the mid-winter months.

If you are in locations outside the main centres, you are hit harder. As a business owner, you really have only two options during this time. Either, you shut your doors and sit it out, or you find ways to draw attention to your store with something new or unique.

A fifties diner is not new or unique. However, Marv managed to add his own personal style to this iconic attraction in small-town Black Diamond. During the Summer months, weekends are busy when people stop for a malt shake, ice cream and his unique hotdogs, sodas and burgers.

During winter things are really slow. It is then that Marv comes up with new recipes and twists on old favourites like his trusty crispy fried chicken. According to Marv, it takes a little longer to properly prepare his chicken. That is why it is not on the menu during the busier summer months. He reserves the chicken for the slower winter months instead. It is hearty and worth the trip to have produce that he sources locally, brine, bread and cooks personally, for his loyal customers.

Observations


We've often seen in Canada that small business close down during the winter months. They do it to preserve cash and to prepare for when the warmer season starts again. It has a knock-on effect for others in the community. When small businesses close their doors, even if it is temporary, then casual staff go without wages, local producers don't sell their produce, and destinations don't attract visitors.

Surely, this cannot be good for their communities. Kudos to Marv for staying open and supporting his local clientele. All we can ask is that you give him a hand by stopping by for some fried chicken or burger, and a milkshake. Who knows, you may also be able to have a yummy Frulatte to remind you of the approaching summer? In the mid of winter, we know, it is a welcome reminder.

Hendrik
Frulatte Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


Classic

Burger Filming

Burger Making

Frulatte, Eh!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Many New Beginnings and Constant Innovation at New Beginnings Toffees and Caramels in Pretoria

Balance


A small business owner lives in two worlds. The one forces him or her to standardize, systematize and consolidate for efficiency. The other calls on constant innovation and change to try and out-manoeuvre competitors and market demands. 

A small business owner is usually good at one of these. At New Beginnings Toffees, it is the latter that stands out. Jan Snyman is always busy with something new. His adventures have one thing in common, delicious toffees and unique chocolate caramels!

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


The challenge for a small business owner is to have the right balance in efficiency and innovation. Efficiency is not always tolerant of changes. By doing something in a standard way and scaling it, there are opportunities to increase profitability. Innovation presupposes change and is a very demanding partner that tends to destroy efficiency and gobble up capital. Sometimes, and more often than not, this means that profitability becomes a casualty.

The two are in a dance that is not always obvious to entrepreneurs. These are people that favours the latter, else they would not have bothered to start the business in the first instance. It is a 'chicken and egg' situation. Innovation drives growth, but efficiency drives the bottom line. Being profitable allows further innovation.

The key to the right priority is to know where in the business cycle you find your business. If it is a new business, and the industry allows it, and you have the capital and resources, then innovation should get priority. If it is an established business in a mature industry, it is usually better to consolidate and standardize to achieve efficiency and improved profitability.

The trouble with an entrepreneur is that they usually favour one. Either efficiency or innovation drives them. That is why it is essential as a business owner to recognize your strengths and realize that it has a place in the cycle of the success of your business. It can also quickly become the downfall if you do not temper or supplement your focus to establish important priority on either efficiency or innovation at the right time.

Observations


New Beginnings Toffees is a remarkable business that grew mainly from a necessity for Jan to have a second career. It provided an innovative confection play-pen to him and his partner, Joelean. The result is a substantial array of unique and traditional toffee-chocolate-caramel flavours, creative packaging, promotional positioning and marketing strategies. It is indeed something we have not yet encountered on our travels across the world. It is unique!

The business manufactures and distributes exclusive hand-made confectionary for select retailers, corporate gifting, hospitality industry, wedding favours and markets.

Jan cannot help himself but to continually explore the next possibility within his product development. He certainly landed a few of our favourites like the Turkish Delight Caramel and Treacle Toffee. It is encouraging to see his enthusiasm for creating the next "big" thing.

Unfortunately, South Africa has seen a series of casualties in strong confectionary brands. The toffees that did survive are no longer of the quality they used to be. We can only hope that Jan finds the magic recipe for successfully distributing his delicious products to step into the shoes of those that have gone before him.

Here is to wishing him and Joelean all the success they can handle. May we one day taste a new beginning for toffee-chocolate-caramels all over the world thanks to the work and dedication of New Beginnings Toffees in far-off South Africa.

We hope to have a maple syrup version we can take to Canada, the next time we see him ;-)

Hendrik
Sweet Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos

Toffee TV

Hand-Made

Guilty Pleasures

Many, Many Flavours

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Coffee Drinking Chicken and Breakfast Blueberry Gin at the Magoebaskloof Farmstall and Cafe, South Africa

Coffee Pit Stop

Life happens while you are making other plans!

While trying to escape the humid Lowveld summer heat of South Africa's Limpopo Province, we were in dire need of a good coffee. It's been several days since we've seen an espresso as we were heading up Magoebaskloof. Halfway up the pass, we passed a cafe sign and immediately decided to turn off the main road to inspect further. 

What we found proved to us, as we've discovered many, many times before, that when you travel, you should turn off the main road and prepare for the truly extraordinary discoveries. This time, we found great coffee, learned about a brewery, fed a pet goat, made cheese, and had blueberry gin for breakfast.

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Harry and Agie are the owners of the new Magoebaskloof Farmstall and Cafe. You cannot miss the venue on the side of the picturesque Magoebaskloof pass, between Polokwane and Tzaneen. It is a farm stall stocked with local produce and a whole lot of heart and passion. You will find wine, gin, vegetables, plants, oils, soaps, pies and a little of everything the people of Magoebaskloof is proudly producing.

Yes, you are reading it right. You can buy alcohol-to-go on the side of the road in South Africa. Not only can you buy local wine, beer and gin, but Harry will also mix you a cocktail or spike your favourite latte for you, any time of the day. We were spoiled when we checked in. The Flatwhite was done correctly, and the locally baked pies were divine. However, it was the blueberry gin we had for breakfast that made our visit most memorable.

I think Harry played with Dolphins for a living and Angie, who is Canadian, were catching elephants in the Lowveld when they met. One thing led to another, and now a little Harry is running around the farmstall playing with a pet billy goat, and a big Harry is pulling espresso shots while entertaining tourists and regulars with his stories.

As they say, life happens while you were making other plans. We are glad to see the amount of passion Harry and Angie brought to their fledgeling business, and we wish them all the success they can handle. 

Observations


Turning off for a coffee at a farm stall is usually a reasonably trivial affair. We've stopped many times all over the world for coffee. It is often only about coffee. However, that morning in Magoebaskloof, something as simple as turning off the main road, a handshake, a blueberry gin and a pie later, put us on a completely different path, and a much more exciting journey.

We could have taken the safe, more comfortable option and simply continued towards the next town for a coffee at a familiar stop (which we did do several days later, only to have a disappointing coffee). Instead, our visit that morning with Harry lead us to a brewery, we discovered a fantastic camping spot by a river, we attended a local food festival, made cheese at an organic farm, ate a divine lamb pie, discovered cream cheese samoosas, and had a goat curry with mielie pap.

What it taught us again, even as seasoned travellers, is that you have to turn off the main road for your coffee. You have to say 'yes' to what is new and unfamiliar, and be prepared to experience and discover. If you do, life will gloriously happen. It will unfold around you with experiences you could never have imagined, even if you were trying to plan it.

Here is our Two Cowboys top tip about our visit to Magoebaskloof Farmstall and Cafe; "Go! Travel! Turn off the main road. Have a coffee. Introduce yourself. Say 'yes' to what happens next and enjoy the journey because life happens even if you make other plans. All you have to do is be ready to discover."

Buckle up and get ready for the ride.

Hendrik
Travelling Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Photos


Cappuchicken!

Breakfast

On the Road

Harry!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Eating Mopane Worms, Biltong, Pang and Pap at ATKV - Klein Kariba in Bela-Bela, South Africa

Coming Home


While Canada is in the middle of winter’s icy grip, we decided to head south towards the sun and to explore and rediscover our homeland of South Africa. After eighteen years away, not much has changed, yet everything is different. 

It is the start of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019! 


Biltong Potjie at ATKV - Klein Kariba.

Township Tour - Bela Bela

Wildlife Safari

Pang!

Toeka se Dae


More to come...

DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Coming to South Africa is coming full circle for the Cowboys. This is where it all started. We were born South African and grew up during some of the more turbulent times in the country's recent history. In 2001 we set out to see the world and broaden our horizons. We are still on that journey, and it is ironic to come home eighteen years later to find it a place very much the same as the one we've left behind, yet very different - good different - in many respects.

The international perspective of South African travel is mainly negative due to news coverage about safety, corruption, and ongoing conflict. It is an out-of-the-way destination with concerns for the traveller. It is why the destination is unfortunately frequently moved to the bottom of the travellers' priority bucket-list.

Mexico is similar in that it offers phenomenal vacations and experiences to travellers and at the same time it is also marred by adverse news reporting related to safety and corruption. The difference is that Mexico succeeded in positioning its travel and tourism products by addressing these concerns. They've done it through all-inclusive packaging, offered to the travel trade, and marketed accordingly. Travellers' concerns are addressed through "white-glove" handling in a controlled manner, from the moment they step off the aeroplane until they are safely back at the airport's departure hall.

South Africa offers as much, if not more, at an equally competitive rate. Wildlife, culture, cuisine, natural beauty, history, human capital and yet, it hasn't even started to fire up its tourism machinery. It lacks packaged products that overcome travellers' concerns and that are competitively positioned and highly rated. If you compare its positioning and messaging to other similarly developing world destinations, it definitely has the opportunity. It is now merely a matter of South Africans grasping it.

The Two Cowboys hope that we can play a small role in promoting this unique destination, its businesses and its people. We will be sharing content about our experiences. With our travel partners, we will be bringing you along for an incredible journey.

This is how our tour of South Africa started at one of the happy places we enjoyed as children, ATKV's - Klein Kariba Resort in Bela-Bela.

ATKV - Klein Kariba


Klein Kariba has a lot to offer as a typical South African family resort. It is a beautiful setting close to the main cities of Gauteng, with great weather, wildlife, beautiful camping, chalets, glamping tents, and hot and cold swimming pools. It has been a must-do family vacation spot for as long as we can remember. The resort continues to be a local favourite. Weekends and holidays are packed with visitors. Some have been patrons for generations.

I know the place well. After frequent trips tenting there during the early 1990s, I eventually wooed and married my wife at Klein Kariba, 26 years ago.

Our favourite spot at the resort, then and it still is now, must be the restaurant, Koswerf. “Koswerf” is the Afrikaans term for an outdoor kitchen or cooking area. This one is unfortunately mainly indoors. However, with the beautiful weather of the Waterberg Region, there is ample opportunity, all over the resort, to partake in cooking outdoors. Wherever you turn, the iconic cultural pastime called "braai" (cooking over an open fire outdoors) happens spontaneously, every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We were fortunate to be hosted by Riaan Maritz and his team. They reluctantly handed us the keys to the pantry, and we kicked off our week cooking up a storm in the Koswerf’s kitchen. On our menu was a Cuban-style Arepa with a South African Peri-Peri Chicken Livers and Mango-Salsa twist. To round it off, we were introduced to the local tropical passionfruit samba sensation of Pang!! (more about this later).

In turn, they reciprocated with a Biltong Potjie (a risotto-like stew made with a lot of cream and cheese, and cooked over an open fire). We lubricated festivities with Caipirinhas as it was our turn to quench the thirsts.

When you visit ATKV - Klein Kariba, the resort has a lot to offer at its facilities. However, it is easy to miss some of the many attractions and other rich offerings of the Bela-Bela area. Klein Kariba sees its responsibility not only to be a destination of choice but to also encourage visitation around the area. That is why Riaan introduced us to M Court Township Tours. They afforded us an eye-opening opportunity to experience some of the curiosities that make up everyday life in a typical township in South Africa. We even tasted the local beer they brew (no license or permit required) and ate mopane worms and pap!

We visited one of the more popular "Padstalle" (roadside shops) called "Toeka se Dae". Here we were treated to freshly baked bread, home-made ginger beer, biltong, and enormous cold and crispy koeksisters.

Do you remember Pang?

What if we told you that we discovered absolute passionfruit gold just outside the gates of ATKV Klein Kariba? Chances are that if you ate anything real passionfruit-related in South Africa or Europe, then Stilhoek Boerdery had something to do with it. They are one of the largest passionfruit producers in South Africa. Nine months in the year they are shipping their products all over the country and some export markets.

It doesn’t stop there, they also bottle the passionfruit pulp with a swig of vodka and call it Pang! The range expanded from there with Mango, Strawberry and even a spicy JalapeƱo, as its popularity grew in the local cocktail consuming market. Klein Kariba is fortunate to offer this locally produced godly elixir at the resort, where it is popular with their younger patrons during the summer holidays ( (legal drinking age, of course!).

Observations


After eighteen years away not much has changed, yet everything is different. Klein Kariba still feels like home to us. However, it is apparent that it evolved in that it reached out to play an increasingly important and more inclusive role in the more diverse local communities of Bela-Bela.

After decades, during which people in a changing South Africa treated each other with animosity and suspicion, it is evident that those that are reaching out to each other, are the ones making a positive difference in their community. Klein Kariba is the main attraction, yet it collaborates with local entrepreneurs and businesses across the spectrum to lend a hand and facilitate success for others too. Business is always more natural when people work together. Those that discover it early continues to prosper.

We are enthused to see that our home language - Afrikaans - is treasured by everyone, even more than we remembered. Yet, everyone is welcome if you speak English, Zulu, German, Cantonese or another language. The South African culture of food, friendliness and hospitality is found around every corner, and the beautiful wildlife setting of the resort’s facilities remains absolute and intoxicating.

Klein Kariba is for everyone. We cannot highlight this single feature enough. Yes, the people of South Africa knows it well and loves it. It is such a gem that they will be forgiven to try and keep it to themselves. However, we hope we can entice the world to come and see it too. We are so proud to be home and proud of what we see and experience, that we want to share it with the world.

Enjoy our programming and see what makes this such a great place to visit. Then, book your ticket and see for yourself. Come for the food, the wildlife, the weather. Above all,  meet the great people of Klein Kariba and Bela-Bela. You may just find us here as well.

We are glad to be home, again!

Hendrik
Wandering Cowboy!

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Photos

All Over the World - of South Africa!

Boere Cuban Arepa

Koeksister!

Uber Africa!

Bushlab

New Friends

Fans of the Cowboys!


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Vanlife Africa - The Two Cowboys Puts Touring in a Can to the Test in Pretoria, South Africa

Get Your Gear


How do you tour South Africa on a budget? 

Get a van and hit the road! That's what we did. We discovered that Vanlife is not yet a "thing" in Africa. We learned a few lessons along the way, and have some advice for people considering to give it a shot. It is a great way to explore this unique country and learn about its people! 

South Africans tour and camp a little differently. We think they are missing out on the flexibility of our preferred mode of travel. We set out to explore why it hasn't caught on yet, and how best it can be done on the fly in Africa. Maybe we can introduce them to it?

We started our journey by getting the necessary gear. It put us on the road for our first episode of our TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019!



DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


If you are an international tourist used to RVing, then you will be glad to know that you can rent a more common motorhome or an adventurous offroad 4X4 bakkie (mini-truck/ute with a roof tent). A more affordable option is to rent a vehicle and a little mini "offroad" tent trailer. The trailer comes equipped with a roof tent, shade tent, shower tent, sleep tent, another tent, more tents, power options, water tanks, and a little pullout kitchen (We are not a fan - too many tents. More about that later). All these options are familiar, well equipped, but quite expensive, clumsy, and a risky way for the uninitiated to undertake a journey in Southern Africa.

Like other destinations, there are also risks in Africa. People don't usually appreciate what African risk means when they land from another country. The roads are a concern with potholes (very deep potholes), stray animals, and a general lack of maintenance. The 4X4 option may give you a (false) sense that you can venture into the wild. In Africa, even something as simple as a tree thorn can puncture a tyre, and a pothole can separate your wheel from its axel. There are also wild animals, dangerous insects and snakes that are always looking for a meal, entertainment, or a new home.

Then there is the driving. Italy cannot compare to South African impatience, breakneck speeds, and general disregard for courtesy, and constant violation of the road rules. Mexico is chaotic but courteous. Driving in Africa is merely nasty. A typical Class-C motorhome is clumsy to operate and difficult to park in most South African towns and cities. Class-A's don't even exist here. The pothole-strewn roads are not kind to these types of vehicles, and you cannot fit them into the available camping spots, anyway.

Security is an omnipresent affair everywhere in Africa. Camping or overnight options are limited to secure campgrounds (caravan parks) and National/Provincial Nature Parks and Reserves. That is why the preferred way to tour and camp in South Africa is with a "caravan" (travel trailer) and lots of tents attached to the outside. People head to "resorts" over weekends and holidays, spend half a day setting up, two or more nights enjoying the facilities, and another full day breaking camp, cleaning, packing away and heading home.

Most touring and camping trips are extended stays at well equipped, safe (however, not always that affordable) resorts.

Observations About Vanlife in Africa


If you talk about a van in Southern Africa, people associate it with the notorious minibus taxis. The little Toyota HiAce van transports Africa! It is the African version of highly efficient and affordable public transport. Larger versions like Sprinter, Iveco and Ford Transits are used for the same purpose on longer journeys.

You can use your overseas license to rent and drive the smaller cargo vans. We rented a Nissan from Thrifty Car Hire for our first leg of our journey. The larger vans require a special "heavy-vehicle" license that is different from the standard motor vehicle license issued overseas and therefore put these vehicles out of reach of tourist.

Some folks already realized the potential of the omnipresent minibusses to be converted into living accommodations and camping solutions. However, you are unlikely to encounter any on the road. It is too foreign to the South African wat of touring and camping. It is a pity because Africa has the ideal weather for it. Weather insulation is the single most significant and most costly challenge (next to power) in North America. In Southern Africa, like Australia, Mexico and New Zealand, it is the least of your concerns because almost every day is a perfect weather day.

For the budget conscious there are well-stocked camping stores like Camp and Climb and Outdoor Warehouse that carry all the usual supplies. Here you can find your sleeping bag, tables and chairs, mattresses, cooling boxes, portable fridges, cooking utensils and water tanks. There are also several local and European-sourced fit-outs available for a more luxurious build of a van with a bed, water, storage, shade and power options. There are more elaborate fit-out operations that will help you make the conversion a bit more permanent and the stay more comfortable if you have your own vehicle. We will be exploring some of these options in subsequent episodes.

The main challenges for Vanlife in Africa are ventilation, insect control (mosquitoes!!) and where to park. We have solutions for these, we think. Stay tuned for advice and more about the lessons we've learned.

There are lots of opportunity for Vanlife in Africa. Vanlife is not yet a thing in South Africa. It is virgin-territory, and for us, it has been an excellent adventure. It is also an economical way to travel and see a fantastic country. You can easily equip yourself inexpensively with the required necessities before hitting the road.

Add it to your bucket list. It is something you have to try at least once. 

Hendrik
Cowboy in Africa!

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


Photos


On Location - #blybetrokke

First Night

Camp

Not #Vanlife

Mobile Studio

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Six Surefire Ways to Fail in Business, Guaranteed!

Being Afraid, Very Afraid


We broke a record. The Two Cowboys published more than 400 video features of small businesses and communities since our inception in January 2016. Our non-branded content alone included a further 437 productions we did for our partners and for various Business Excellence Awards.

For a total of around 837 productions, we've met, interviewed and filmed more than 3,000 people in three years! We did it in Canada, USA, Mexico, New Zealand and in South Africa. We also added France and Italy to our travels in 2018. How's that for being busy?

In three short years, we've seen and heard more about businesses than most people do in a lifetime. We thought we knew a lot after University, 25 years of management consulting and years in television production. Instead, we learned a lot more from these business owners in a very short time that we ever imagined. We now also know a lot more about them.

Some of the businesses we met were, and still are, wildly successful. Unfortunately, the majority were not, and probably never will be. We came to the realization, when we looked through the lenses of our cameras (cameras rarely lie) and listened to the conversations we recorded, that the majority of those that are not successful face a single, but a major stumbling block. It doesn't matter where the business is. They all have one infliction.

They have a confidence problem! Because they lack confidence, they fear and some even avoid being successful. Entrepreneurs and business owners lack confidence because they have no idea what is supposed to make them succeed in the first place.

To illustrate the point. Here is a statement from one ignorant, cocky, small, hot sauce business owner, somewhere in the woods of Vancouver Island. "We'll contact you if we ever consider paying for publicity!" Our reply, "Please don't. We'd rather be contacted by someone that understands that publicity is what makes businesses and brands, even commodity hot sauce brands like yours, succeed. It makes businesses go national and global. Heaven forbid that someone actually finds out about your sauce. You may just be forced to deal with success!"

The point is that even if you don't have an interest in the Two Cowboys telling your story, a business owner should grab every opportunity possible to promote and get positive publicity for their product and brand. There are many things you can do to grow your enterprise. The most simple is to simply get out of the way of your success.

Simple Business 101


There are countless sources of entrepreneurial advice available in books and online. You don't have to do an MBA. It is all available by tapping a screen and clicking a button. Every second "consultant" and "authoritative" online page carries the keys to the castle. They can give you the 8 steps to entrepreneurial success, 5 ways to make a million, 7 keys to marketing success, or 10 ways to a six-figure income with your laptop on the beach. Don't forget email marketing and there is an app for that! I don't have to point out that most of this advice come from snake oil salesmen, nobodies and wannabes.

Instead of listing another 5, 8 or even a 100 ways to make it in business, I thought of highlighting the five surefire ways we've gleaned through our observation and experience of how to assure failure. Avoid these mistakes and you are likely to stumble upon the right things to do, by accident. Business is not supposed to be hard. It is not something you have to go and do under duress.

What you do in your business should be natural and align with who you are. If it fits, it is bound to have spontaneous progression and evolution.

Before we court disaster, here is a simple formula we've distilled for a successful maker business:

  • Make something of value for yourself. (Product Development, R&D, Tooling, Materials, Prototyping, Testing, Validation, Manufacturing) 
  • Find people that value it too. Share it with them. (Positioning, Promotion, Market Validation)
  • Make more, and share it more often and with more people. They become your loyal customers. (Logistics, Supply Chain, Distribution, Labour, Packaging, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Support, Marketing, Promotion, Publicity, Selling, Fulfillment, After Sale Support, Quality Control, Billing)
  • Exchange it for the amount of value it adds to your customers' lives. (Pricing)
  • If your customers value what you make more than it cost you to make it, then you have a business. (Profit)
  • Have fun and learn how to get better at it every day! (Evolve and Expand)
  • If it doesn't work, make something else.

The same applies to a service business. It is even simpler.

  • Do something you value for yourself. (Tools, Expertise, Skill, Knowledge, Effort, Time)
  • Find people that value what you do. Do it for them too. (Positioning, Promotion, Validation) 
  • Do it often and find more people to do it for. They become your loyal customers. (Customer Relationship Management, Publicity, Marketing, Sales, Service, Billing, Delivery) 
  • Exchange it for the amount of value it adds to your customers' lives. (Pricing) 
  • If your customers value what you do more than it cost you to do it, then you have a business. (Profit)
  • Have fun and learn how to get better at what you do. Do it every day! (Evolve and Grow)
  • If it doesn't work, do something else.

Let us Fail


Here are some surefire ways to fail in business.

  • WASTE TIME: Procrastinate. Try to please others with a product or service you don't care for and that you don't really value. Do meaningless work that keeps you busy and pays the bills. The outcome will at best be mediocre and you are likely to hate every minute you are involved with it. Waste as much time as possible by delaying decisions. Go to the toilet often. Check your social media. Have meetings after meeting with your team. Collect your salary. Go on vacation. Have a hobby. The more you waste time, the less you will have to actually do.
  • SHUN CONTACT: Heaven forbid that people should actually make contact with you about your product or service. Avoid customer contact at all cost. Don't answer your phone. Don't return messages or that email. Don't listen to people. Don't appear on your shop floor and don't interact with your staff. Please don't answer questions or entertain proposals. Make sure your website doesn't have an address, phone number or email address. If you are really serious about shunning contact then get yourself a receptionist, a call centre in India, a personal assistant, PR Firm, appoint a marketing person, and get a social media handler. They will make sure no one can get hold of you. Be very important. Have many titles. Customers won't buy from you and suppliers won't be able to offer you any help. If you cannot be reached, then people won't want something from you.
  • AVOID EXPOSURE: Keep yourself a mystery. Hide! Avoid publicity. Don't have a proper website, or don't have one at all. Tell as little as possible about your product or service. Consider social media evil. Don't go near it. Never have a page on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Don't do any marketing or promotions. Avoid all forms of advertising. Remove your business listing from Google and maps. Take your shop's sign down. Don't put your business name on your vehicle. Throw away your business cards. Avoid telling your customers how to use your products and the benefits of your service. Remember, the less exposure you have the more likely no one will bother you.
  • SKIRT FEEDBACK: Customer reviews are evil. Don't encourage reviews. Take down your Google reviews and disable your Facebook feedback button. Don't ask customers what you can do to make their product or experience better. If they do offer feedback deride them. Make them feel insignificant. Be a victim. Don't respond. You won't have to learn and adjust your product or service and won't meet your customers' expectations. If you skirt feedback then the truth won't hurt you. 
  • AVOID SUCCESS: If you are unsuccessful you will have plenty to complain about. You won't make a difference in people's lives. If you avoid success, people won't care. If you are successful more people will want something from you and bother you often. With success, you may turn a profit and will have to pay more taxes and employ more people. By avoiding success you can have your predictable life. You won't be faced with challenges. You can blame your circumstances and your failure on someone and something else. 

The Two Cowboys


Our business is a simple business. 

We love researching, investigating, learning, meeting interesting people, filming and telling stories about the things and places that interest us. The things we value is good food, inspiring people, innovative products and businesses, great beer, and the freedom to travel and work all over the world. We tell these stories in the best way we can through video, photography and writing in our Blog. We feel the world needs more fun and inspiration. We hope to give that to our audience.

Our audience enjoys watching our programming and armchair travelling with us. Our programming is insightful, informative and entertaining. The people, businesses and places we feature garner publicity through our content. They win over new customers. More people learn about them and is likely to deal or visit them. It becomes a channel with much-needed positive exposure for their brands.

We are constantly looking for new stories and bigger partners to feature. We produce as much content as we can and feature as many people, businesses and places as is willing to engage us. We package our content around topics and themes. One theme we love to exploit is a maker theme where we feature people that create and make products. We have several food and cooking themes. We have a travel and camping theme. Overall, the Two Cowboys is an entertaining lifestyle content brand that we live every day and where we invite others to join us on our journey.

Our pricing models make it possible for the smallest business to afford to be featured by the Cowboys and for some of the largest partners to have constant access to fresh and informative highly professionally produced promotional content. At the same time, our audience can access our materials online for free so that we can reach the broadest audience possible.

Our business and our brand keeps growing even in the most difficult economic times in Canada's recent memory. Where businesses realize the power of our promotional capabilities they engage us often and with great success. We love what we do and don't want to do anything else.

Thank you for helping us succeed in our endeavour to show the world that it is a better place.

Hendrik van Wyk
Business Cowboy

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Not One More Lousy Coffee, Please!

The End


When is a customer justified in refusing to pay for lousy coffee? It depends on how you define "bad" coffee, doesn't it? It also depends if you accept and drink it. 

We agree that the bill for a consumed coffee must be settled. However, we are firm in our opinion that a lousy coffee can, and should be sent back until it is right. Accepting a lousy coffee hurts an industry.

See more Two Cowboys Coffee Content: Here.

DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS OR COMMUNITY FEATURED?


Coffee shops charge you before they serve you. Herein lies your opportunity. It gives you the chance to demand an acceptable beverage, or you get your money back. A shot of espresso can set you back as little as $1.50 and as much as $4.50. The same goes for a milk espresso drink like a cappuccino, flat-white, macchiato or latte. It too can come in as high as $3.50, and up to $6.50 at some "distinguished" establishments. If you bend over for a Starbucks, prepare to hurt even more.


We once showed a coffee shop owner that we've spent upwards of $780/month with him and that it didn't even include the beans for the coffee we make at home. The Cowboys spend more on coffee in a month than we spend on beer. That is very concerning (and a topic for another time)!

The point is that drinking coffee is expensive. Why then do we tolerate it when we are served an inferior beverage? We won't accept half a sandwich, a stale doughnut, or being served an overly salty muffin. We won't go back to a restaurant for a rubbery overdone steak and cold fries. Yet, establishments serve inferior espresso-based coffee drinks as a central feature or sideshow, and they get away with it. Even worse, some are offended when you call them out on it. 

People somehow accept the role of the espresso dice and console themselves with their fate when they are handed dark muck in a cup. "Maybe the Barista is having a bad day. Tomorrow it may be better. We'll try again later. It is the best you can get around here..." 

No more!

A (Dis)Service


It is time to call it, and we intend to do just that.

Yes, we know that we are at risk of becoming very unpopular with some of the business owners on our travels. However, as we've mentioned before, we pay for our coffee. If we are paying for it, like every other customer, we have the right to have an opinion. Even more so, because of what we do as the Two Cowboys, we have the intention to share our view with anyone that cares to read, watch and listen. 

This is a generous service to coffee lovers and the coffee serving establishment. We are gladly stepping up to provide transparency and clarity. As fellow baristas, prior coffee shop owners, dedicated coffee drinkers, and world-travellers, we intend to help coffee servers realize where they have room for improvement, and we hope to make the world a better place because of it.

This is part of the TWO COWBOYS' EPIC GLOBAL TRAVEL & CULINARY EXPERIENCE - 2019!

Good Coffee


The World Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) sets the standards for coffee. Standards can be great tools for the coffee industry as they are trusted reference instruments established by knowledgeable subject-matter experts. It is a quantifiable and qualifiable measure, based upon scientific testing, which set values and/or ranges of values for coffee.

The standards are the foundation of what is used in international barista competitions hosted by World Coffee Events at their very popular World Barista Championships. These competitions focus on promoting excellence in coffee, advancing the barista profession, and engaging worldwide audiences with a love for better coffee. Judges from around the world evaluate each performance on the taste of beverages served, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill, and overall presentation.

Now, let's be realistic. Buying a beverage at your local coffee shop should not be a world championship judging event! That is why we've lowered our standards to support our love of specialty coffees and helping fellow entrepreneurs that bravely venture to serve it to loyal patrons every day.

As far as we are concerned, there are mainly three important criteria that should be met for a Two Cowboys coffee to be an acceptable coffee (and not to be handed back for a redo). It should be well prepared, taste good, and be served in a customer friendly manner.

  1. Well Prepared: There is a whole raft of technical aspects that guide a well-prepared beverage. Bean quality and freshness, grinder setting, tamping, flushing, dosing, extraction time, and other elements all work together to produce a good coffee. Chief in these for us is the cleanliness of the preparation. Secondly, is the consistency of the beverages that are turned out. Can we trust not to get sick from a septic steam wand and expect the same consistently good coffee no matter who the barista is on any given day?
  2. Taste Good: First of all, the coffee should be made correctly. The barista should know the difference between a simple cappuccino, a flat-white, latte and a macchiato. If they are cross-eyed when we use words such as espresso, doppio or ristretto then they should not be on the machine. The coffee shot should have a nice dark rich crema and be well balanced between sweet, acidic and bitter. The milk should be rich and silky and the volume appropriately adjusted for the type of drink. Both should come together in balance and harmony. For heaven's sake, it should be served at the right temperature!
  3. Customer Service: Here is where many coffee serving establishments go to die. The barista's treatment of his or her patrons is as integral to the specialty coffee experience as is the beverage. If every establishment makes a reasonably good coffee, then the barista's energy and positivity differentiate mediocrity from excellence. Baristas, like barmen and barbers, have a very personal job. We've walked away from good coffee in the past because of a jackass barista, and we took our $780/month with us.
We give all three of the above criteria an equal weighting. Call it the Two Cowboys - Three Stars Coffee Rating. Unfortunately, one miss can sink a coffee ship.

Observations


We realize that the specialty coffee business is a hard endeavour.

From an outsider's perspective, the margins may look promising. However, with roughly $1 of profit in a cup of coffee a shop needs to push out at least 15 an hour just to cover minimum wage in most western countries. Coffee is expensive and a good espresso machine, more so.  Baristas don't earn much either. Even if they make a good coffee, most baristas earn minimum wage, or slightly more.

Our goal is not to give these businesses and dedicated folks a hard time. Instead, by shining a light on them, we hope to celebrate their successes and drive more patrons their way. We've already lost our butchers, bakers, dairies and our fresh produce grocers from our small towns. They've been replaced by large grocery chains. Our coffee is fast going the same route with a Starbucks and a Tim Hortons opening on every available downtown corner. Every second establishment now purports to be serving specialty coffee. Most of them serve lousy coffee. That is why it is even more critical to outdo the coffee making robots.

Let's not be distracted by accepting lousy coffee. It hurts the few remaining dedicated espresso hole-in-the-walls that are doing a decent job. Support those instead, like we do!

Hendrik
Coffee Cowboy!

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.


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